If you strongly disagree with an approach, a task, an injustice, or anything that pertains to achieving the company’s or your own mission, tell your boss how you feel directly. If you have information that differs from the boss’s position or point of view that will genuinely move the company forward, not just move you forward, you have to talk to her. You can still be loyal, support your boss, be respectful, and try to make her life easier, but in an honest, confident manner, you have to express your beliefs.
Speak up when you think he is on target or not. Bosses need to hear it when you think they are right, just as they need to hear it when you think they are wrong. A confident person holds to her own ideas, which may not be the boss’s.
Don’t be a sycophant. Push back. As one CEO told me, “A reverberation of your own thoughts is okay for a little while, but you soon get tired of it.”
To push back does not mean to argue with no merit or to be a troublemaker or rabble-rouser for no reason. It means to pleasantly but assertively question. And it means to get to an understanding of what she is saying, and then explain how and why you see it differently.
You needn’t do it in a throw-down, go-toe-to-toe, whine-kick-and-scream, verbal fisticuffs, threatening, or open-conflict way. As one CEO put it, “Just speak up as if you’ve never been shushed. Have a meaningful discussion. Be reasonable with a smile.”
Debra Benton is co-author with Kylie Wright-Ford of The Leadership Mind Switch (McGraw-Hill, 2017)
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