Speaking Truth to Power

What percentage of times does a person in a company dare speak truth to power? Is it 10%, 20%, or  30%? What’s your guess?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is supposedly C), 30%. At least that’s what Jim Detert has concluded from participants completing the survey that underlies his Workplace Courage Acts Index. In that survey, the questions involve whether one dares challenge an authority figure—defined defined as a manager or a leader one rank or more above your supervisor. A challenge could be regarding a strategic or operating policy; inappropriate behavior; or unethical, even illegal behavior. At the policy level, the percentage of courage nears 40% (managers are easier than leaders to challenge). But when it comes to personal behavior, being a good diplomat is crucial to ensure your career doesn’t get beheaded. Detert’s best advice for how to speak truth to power and survive to tell the tale? Have a solution in mind. Be specific and also be seen as an advocate for growth or improvement, as opposed to merely shaming the other party. Another hint: it helps if you’ve built up your personal brand equity by demonstrating warmth and competency leading up to the moment when you dare to step up.

Released today: episode #64 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Jim Detert discussing Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work. Click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Jim Detert is the John L. Colley Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He’s won multiple awards for his teaching and curriculum development at both UVA and Cornell University.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc. His latest book, available on Amazon is Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc. His latest book, available on Amazon is Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo.