Are You a Leader? Think. Then Speak Up!

Are You a Leader? Think. Then Speak Up!

As the first month of the New Year comes to a close, take a moment to reflect on how you’re showing up.

You’re reading this blog because you’re a leader.

I’m a big proponent of leading with questions, and my third book, That’s A Great Question, contains more than 500 thought-provoking questions I’ve assembled over the years as a CEO, consultant and, now, Vistage Chair.

Are You a Leader? Think. Then Speak Up!But there’s a time for questions and a time for conviction.

Thought Leadership

I recently was in a meeting of leaders when a guest speaker offered a few controversial points of view.

Imagine my surprise when there were no questions, no challenges, nothing.

The next day, one of the leaders sent an email to his colleagues taking exception with one of the speaker’s more controversial points.

The email got me thinking.  If the people in the room had questions for the speaker, what kept them from being asked in the meeting?  Was the room not safe?  Did some leaders not wish to ask a question at the risk of appearing “dumb”?

In high-performing organizations, executives accept some failure as a component of learning, improvement and growth. In those organizations, there’s a collective trust among employees who understand that questions – especially tough questions – will be welcomed, asked and answered before decisions are made and after results are produced.

Ask yourself: Am I exhibiting the type of thought leadership that my board/partner/CEO/supervisor exhibits and also expects of me, or do I hold back?  If I’m holding back, what’s preventing me from stepping out?  Is this something I should work on in order to take another step in my leadership journey?

Is thought leadership part of my plan to raise my game this year?

What’s my leadership style?

The follow-up email from the leader who offered a dissenting point of view was well-thought-out, articulate, and considerate.

It was clear from this email that the executive is strongly convicted around certain beliefs yet offered his point of view in a reasonable and sensitive manner.

As you think about how you debate thorny issues inside your company, how are you showing up?  Do you attack the issue or the person?

Do you bring a solution, or just throw a grenade and step back and watch what happens?

Do you bring the same level of conviction, reason and sensitivity to those issues about which you’re most passionate?

Are You a Leader? Think. Then Speak Up!Ask yourself: If I were observing myself, what conclusion would I reach?  Would others agree with my self-assessment?  Is the way I’m showing up my intention, or am I projecting something else?

People can’t hear you think.

Speak up!

Category: Leadership


Greg Bustin About the Author: Greg Bustin

Greg Bustin is a 15-year Vistage Master Chair with two Chief Executive groups, a Key Executive group and an Emerging Leader group in Dallas. He is also a Vistage speaker and has delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five conti…

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  1. Spot on remarks. We must remember it’s not enough to just show up. As leaders we must cultivate ideas and the exchange of ideas by empowering and encouraging our people to do so.

  2. Sometimes the structure of a meeting makes it more conducive to gather input from participants than others. When I owned a creative services firm and we would do a design review of concepts, I usually asked junior designers for their input first so they felt they could share their gut reaction before being swayed by the comments of more senior staff. This format also helped them build their critical thinking skills. When I have been in meetings with senior executives and they insisted on speaking their mind first and expressed a strong opinion, it usually quickly ended the conversation without hearing from people that didn’t want to risk offering a contrary opinion to their boss.

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