Thursday, August 1, 2013

But, I tried to tell them...


Last week I heard a common excuse from leadership, multiple times in different organizations:

“I tried to tell them what was wrong but no one would listen. Now I just keep my mouth shut and do my job because no one listens to me anyway, so it doesn't matter."

Here is my standard refrain to leaders who feed me this line: that is a weak leadership conversation. Once you decide your voice doesn't matter it doesn't. Trust, relationships, and communication are all very difficult to maintain. You can't quit if you hope to have a chance to maintain effective communication. If you want your voice heard, then you must speak up.

Little progress can be made towards alignment, chemistry, and mutual support in these conversations. A problem could have been solved or an adjustment could have been made, but this kind of finger pointing usually just leads to additional distrust and barriers to communication.

"Keeping your mouth shut" is copping out. You can't be an effective leader with this mind set becaue a leader can't do their job and keep their mouth shut. My advice to people who find themselves in this conversation is to BE someone who can be heard.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Know what you're trying to cause and why it's important to you.
  • Know your audience.  Try to understand what is important to them and how they are able to hear you.
  • Understand the consequences of your actions and inactions and own the consequences.
  • Be clear, be confident, and be concise.
  • Take responsibility for your message and make sure that you are heard.


There will always be hardheads with personal agendas that will deny your voice a place in the conversation. However, don't give them the power to squelch your ideas or your leadership.

Be a leader.  Be determined.  Be resourceful. Create the possibility for solutions when it's needed. Remember: Good leaders speak up.

by Mike Nally


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