Stand up for what you believe in

I was working with a senior leader last week who sits on the operating board of medium-sized organisation. He works in an environment that is extremely fast-moving and somewhat disorganised. He also works with some strong characters. Recently the board made the decision that he didn't agree with. It was a critical decision that impacted the long-term success of the organisation, and after six months of implementing on it, it's clear that the decision was a poor one. 

As I was coaching him I heard him say "I knew at the time that we were doing the wrong thing”. He did voice his opinion at the time, but he did so only mildly. Instead he chose to go with those who were stronger and more convincing.

It's quite common for leaders not to follow their own wisdom. Perhaps you're too used to being influenced by the strong views of others; perhaps the environment is so fast-moving that it feels like you don't have time to think; perhaps you just have some limited thinking about your own worth on the Board. 

As a leader of an organisation at any level, I say to you that one of your primary roles is to speak up and stand for what you believe in. That is fundamentally why you’ve been promoted. Your role is now more about thinking and strategising, than it is about doing. So I encourage you always to tune into your gut, to make time to listen to your inner wisdom, and to be strong and clear about sharing that wisdom. Your views might not always be popular. Others may well disagree strongly. But particularly on important strategic topics, sharing your opinion clearly articulately and convincingly, being a stand for what you believe in - this is the game of leadership. 

by Martin Palethorpe