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Five Good Reasons to Challenge the Hierarchy

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Five Good Reasons to Challenge the Hierarchy

Ira Chaleff has spent a lifetime coaching and working with executives on issues of courage. He believes that part of being a good follower, and a hallmark of true followership, is to stand up and challenge our leaders when we disagree with their principles, motivations, or actions.

Sure, it's easier to keep a low profile and not draw attention to yourself, but Ira warns us why taking that route leads to its own share of problems by presenting the five solid reasons why you should speak up to authority when the situation warrants it:

1) Because “boss” is just what you call him or her. Underneath the title is a human being. All human beings are fallible, including you. You’re not challenging the boss’s position, just the blind spot. Helping each other see the limitations in our thinking or the blind spots in our actions helps each of us to be better.

2) Because you believe in the mission of the organization and want it to succeed. If the boss, or the boss’s boss’s boss is contemplating an action based on an inaccurate assessment of the situation, your speaking up can prevent setbacks to the mission. This is good, right?

3) Because you have the courage to live by your values. If we compromise our values enough we cease being proud of who we are. You want to be proud of yourself, don’t you? Living with integrity takes courage.

4) Because no one else is going to do it. We wait for others to step in to the line of fire so that we can piggy-back on them to lessen any negative consequences of speaking up. That’s a problem - everyone is waiting for someone else to step up first, so no one does. The ship goes down.

5) Because it earns you respect from both your colleagues and your bosses. Your boss may not like hearing your challenge, but as long as he or she is not clinically paranoid, a strong boss will respect you for speaking up. So will your colleagues. You might even get promoted. If you do, remember to be a courageous boss.

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