Silence can be construed in many ways. It can be an inner stillness, or as simple as, something lacking sound. It can be something that we crave, or it can be something that we wish we could avoid. Let’s agree this, silencing the mind is not the sin that we need to focus on – after all, who are we to argue with every guru that says that this is a necessity?
The ‘sin’ is when we are silent in untenable situations. Here are some instances that come to mind:
- Blatant ethical violations
- Data points being argued and disagreed upon
- Unfair treatment of others
- Unfair treatment of yourself
- Anything that leads to poor work cultures
- Anything that impacts performance negatively
Good leaders shouldn’t be silent, nor afraid, to tackle these issues, and others that are similar to these. No one recommends being in a constant combat mode. All we need to consider is, if we are silent, we aren’t contributing to a positive outcome. We also need to consider that mostly, in our privileged role as a leader, we should address poor situations before they get out of hand. Here are some egregious situations that were not addressed head on, culminating in a dire effect on humanity:
- The MeToo movement – how many times did women have to speak up to have their voice heard? This movement, that started in 2006, culminated in perpetuating violence against women because things were not addressed. Yes, people spoke out. Not many acted upon these voices.
- Black Lives Matter – beginning in 2013 and continuing, we are at the cusp of something that could tip society over the edge if we don’t address the true root cause of this, and if we continue to take an insipid approach to what the message actually is.
- The most famous Ponzi scheme in history that coincided with the 2008 global financial crises – from as early as 1998, Harry Markopolos uncovered evidence that something was amiss with Bernie Madoff’s business; he reported it from the year 2000; 8 years later, Madoff’s downfall resulted in 27 000 individuals losing a collective of, at least, $ 60 billion.
So, maybe we do speak out and the actual sin is that people don’t listen. Interestingly, Harry Markpolos’s book is called ‘No One Would Listen’. Here’s another interesting bit of information, in the longitudinal research that Welcome Me to Me is doing on ‘The Impact of Not Being Listened to’, findings show that most people feel that they are good listeners, yet they don’t feel that they are listened to…interesting…same sample size and such a dichotomy.
If you had to pick one, what would you say is the real issue – that people don’t speak up or that people don’t listen? To address the former, we may not think that we are capable of addressing this. Maybe we are. Maybe we aren’t. We do however have the opportunity to address the ecosystem of an unbalanced situation by being involved at a micro level of tenuous situations. As Gestalt says, the whole is great than the sum of its parts – let us rather address what we can and hope the greater good will prevail. To address the latter, we may have just lost the art of conversation. Maybe we are getting too riled up with meaningful movements and not pausing to address the ‘as is’, or maybe we are getting lost in an age of, dare I say it, unsmart technology. Who knows?
What we do know is that our conversations do matter, and we need to take the time to construct these conversations in order to break the silence and be proactive in our resolve to allow humanity, and therefore organisations, to prevail. This is quite a big ask yet, as leaders, aren’t we the ones who need to allow these opportunities? What happens if it becomes too late? Let us together, always be ready to focus on the whole, with the large or small contribution that we can bring, by standing tall and speaking out. Who will listen?