If you truly believe in something, you should be willing to stand in the unemployment line for that belief. I call it ‘eating beans’ for what you believe in, since that is what sometimes people tend to eat a lot of when you have little to no money. Do you know what message you send Leadership when you stand up for something? You tell them that you mean it. You are telling them in louder cues than you could ever say by simply raising your voice. Not only are you telling them that it is a very important topic, but you are positioning yourself as a leader with integrity in that company. You are telling them where your character and your loyalties are. You’re watching out for the company. You want the company to make good decisions that will benefit both them and you. You look out for the company and raise issues if necessary. You want to make sure that the company is there in 2 years, 4 years, and even 10 years out. In order for that to happen, they must make good decisions, and you want to ensure that good decisions are happening.
You will run into leaders that surround themselves with ‘Yes’ people and DO NOT want to hear bad news or disagreements from you. I have found, over time, that even these leaders will respect your opinions if you do the following:
- Don’t be a chicken little. Do not alarm someone in Leadership UNLESS absolutely necessary. If you believe that the company will figure the problem out and solve it, and that the worse that could happen is a slight delay in the timeline, then don’t go out of your way to alarm exec leadership over it. Choose your battles.
- Minimize the number of times you escalate ANYTHING. They shouldn’t hear from you more than twice a year. Use your ‘escalations’ wisely. They burn political capital.
- Spread the love. All visits to leadership cannot be speckled with bad news and escalations. If you want to be heard, you must spend time stopping in or visiting leadership when you have NOTHING NEGATIVE to report on. Congratulate them on recent successes and any recent positive event that has happened at the company. Ask them about their family. Say nothing negative.
- Be consistent. If you took a stance a year ago against something, don’t change your opinion from year to year. Work is a bit like politics. Pick your platform and stick to it.
When leadership makes a decision you disagree with, if you are in leadership, you are required to ADVISE your boss if you DISAGREE ADAMANTLY about their decisions. If you are leading a product line or a department or a team, they pay you to speak up. If you are in a leadership position, they are paying you to lead.
by Bethany Williams