I am reading a book called The Fearless Organization, by Amy C. Edmondson. It talks about how psychological safety helps facilitate growth in knowledge-based businesses.
Early in the book, it asks a question that I find intriguing: What do you fear more when trying to use your voice at work:
- Not participating
- Saying something potentially sensitive, threatening or wrong
How would you answer that question? Next, ask yourself: Why do you feel that way?
My fear is not being heard and not contributing. Truth be told, I’m not as worried about being wrong or threatening. Self-awareness is key in this scenario. I’m aware that things can be sensitive and perceived as threatening and I manage those risks through tone and delivery. But I don’t constrain my voice. I fear I’m not doing my job if I’m not saying what I honestly believe. I’m not always right, but I don’t shy away from expressing my voice in a productive way. By the way, admitting when you’re wrong goes a long way in building a respected and credible voice in the future.
Silence through fear limits growth
These are interesting times. In some ways, voice has never been louder in society – social media gives every voice a platform and a megaphone. But I also think in life and at work, people are all too often afraid to use their voice for fear of negative ramifications. If you really stop and think about this, the impact of silence is significant. Different voices and perspectives have led to some of the world’s greatest debates and innovations.
If we don’t share our voice, we could stop the free exchange of knowledge and fresh ideas and limit our ability for exponential growth.
How so? As Edmonson describes it, fear:
- Is not an effective motivator for jobs where learning or collaboration is required for success
- Impairs analytic thinking, creative insight and problem solving
- Reinforces a belief that asking for help or admitting a failure will be punitive
If your team can’t collaborate, solve problems or ask for help, how are you going to succeed and grow?
So now, a question for you: How can we change this? I hope you will use your fearless voice to share your ideas here.