Most people think real change in an organization occurs as a result of top-level leadership. This isn’t always the case.
Oftentimes, it’s someone within the rank and file who stands up and challenges the status quo. Remember the old adage, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”
Years ago I was the säles manager for company with about 30 employees. The business was struggling, and a management consultant had been called in to try and get things back on track.
In one of my meetings with the consultant, I told him about some of the things that were going on that I didn’t agree with. I explained that even though we were all encouraged to be open and honest, I feared that what I had to say might cost me my job.
His response was something I won’t forget. He asked me if I really wanted to work for a company that said one thing and did another. He showed me that I really didn’t have anything to löse.
It was time to walk my talk. I could no longer hide behind the fear of losing my job. I had to speak my truth. I did, and I didn’t get fired. And even if I had been, it would have been worth it.
Anyone can be the catalyst for change. Sometimes all it takes is a question. Sometimes it requires a brave person pointing to the dusty mission statement hanging on the wall and saying, “Does this reflect our purpose?” or “Is this consistent with our core values?”
Those responsible for the Enron and WorldCom scandals did not do their greedy deeds in a vacuum. Others knew something wasn’t right and yet they remained silent. At the very least we all have a responsibility to report illegal activity. We also should work toward making our company a world class company.
Yes, it’s true that it’s risky. It does take courage. But like that consultant said to me, what do you really have to löse? Better to shake things up a bit than remain silent. It’s easier to find another job with a company more in tune with your values than to treat an ulcer or high blood pressure. Besides, it’s the right thing to do.
You can challenge with respect. You can question without being insubordinate. In so many instances, I’ve found that when just one person stands up for what’s right, others step forward as well. A leader doesn’t have to be elected or appointed. A leader is often just someone who cares enough to speak what’s in the hearts and minds of others.
Sometimes leadership becomes enlightened by blinding flashes of the obvious illuminated by those in the trenches. And if management can’t handle the truth, it’s time to seek out new management.
My personal belief is whether you work for–or own a company–you want it to be something you’re proud of. You want the time and energy you invest in your career to be worthy of the best that’s within you. You want it to make a difference.
Average isn’t good enough. You want to look back on your contribution with pride. Just putting in your time and collecting a paycheck may work for some people, but it shouldn’t be sufficient for you. Stand up for excellence. Help your company become a world class company.
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About the author
Copyright Michael Angier. SuccessNet.org and http://WorldClassBusiness.com help you and your business grow. Get their frëë report, 10 Pillars of a World Class Business, by sending an email to wcb@SuccessNet.org No-cost subscriptions, memberships, eCourses, eBooks and more are available at http://SuccessNet.org and InfoPlease@SuccessNet.org