Leadership Nudge® 402 – Speak Up with Jenni Jepsen admin October 5, 2022

Leadership Nudge® 402 – Speak Up with Jenni Jepsen

Intent-Based Leaders make it psychologically safe for people to share thoughts and ideas. What can you do to help your team feel safe to speak up in your next meeting? Here’s Jenni with more.

As Intent-Based Leaders, we want to make it safe for people to speak up. And we know the bias for staying silent is huge. This matrix from leading psychological safety expert, Amy C. Edmondson, illustrates why.  

So imagine I’m new to the organization. And I’m going into a meeting where we’re brainstorming some new product ideas. I’m sitting in the room with maybe a couple of vice presidents, my manager, a few of my new colleagues. And we’re brainstorming product ideas. And I’m thinking, “Oh, I have all these great ideas I want to share.” And so I speak up. Who benefits? Everybody! I do! The organization benefits! Our customers, potentially, benefit! And when does that benefit occur? Yeah . . . later. It doesn’t occur right then, right? We don’t know about the idea. So the benefit could occur later. And the certainty of that benefit is low, because we don’t know if that’s going to be a good idea or not.  

Now, imagine I’m in the same meeting. And I’m thinking, “Oh, I have all these ideas, but maybe they’ve heard them before. I feel a little uncomfortable. I don’t. Maybe it’s not a good idea for me to say anything, I think I’m just going to stay silent.” Who benefits in that situation? Only me. And you could argue that, long term, that’s not a benefit for me either. But in that moment, I’m protecting myself. So I benefit. When does the benefit occur? Right then and there. I control it. So the certainty of the benefit is high.  

So as leaders, we need to find ways to help make it safe for people to speak up. So things like . . . in a workshop, start with writing sticky notes individually with ideas, put them into a hat, and then take them out individually, go through them without judgment. You can also find a lot more inspiration, in David’s book. Right here – Leadership Is Language.  

So the next time you’re going into a meeting, think about this bias for staying silent, and how you can help people to speak up. Think ahead about what techniques you’re going to use to make it safe for people to speak up.  

I’m Jenni Jepson with your Leadership Nudge. Let us know how it goes.