Have you ever been in one of those meetings, the ones where you are listening to the chatter around you, you are actively listening, taking in all of the various points of view, but your desire to participate stops there? You have zero desire to speak up. You have an opinion, you could share it, but you don’t think it will add value to the discussion. Plus, once you step out of the meeting you are going to do what you want, your way, so it doesn’t really matter what you share. You have your plan so there is no need to waste time talking about it, right?
Not quite. These thoughts, while a frequent occurrence for some, are truly not time savers but are actually detrimental to the team. You have to speak up. Your voice, your ideas, your plans and methods, they matter.
Peer Growth: You need to speak up to educate your peers on your way of thinking and therefore help them grow in their thought process. The leaders of your organization continue to think that your approach to problem solving is valuable and needed on the team. This is one of the many ways you are expected to contribute. Don’t prove them wrong by sitting silently at the table. Maybe your method is simplified, maybe it will generate the desired results faster, or maybe it truly is a better way of working. Why not share it with the team and allow them to decide if they would like to steal shamelessly? Don’t devalue your thoughts before they have been been shared.
Leader Confidence: Speaking up will also allow your leader to see your thoughts, understand your style, your intentions, and your skills/knowledge. (This is critically important if your leader wasn’t the one who originally put you in the role, because this gives them a way to “learn” you.) While you can share those pieces of your leadership during your one on ones, the interaction you display with peers and in a group setting is valuable to your leader because it allows him to see you engaging and influencing those who do not report to you. Peer influence is critical to career success. Showing your leader your ability to influence helps ensure he has the data points he needs when it comes time to provide performance feedback or even recommend you for the next promotion.
Personal Growth: Finally, speaking up allows you to communicate your thoughts and work out any gaps you may still have with your strategy. You can solidify your game plan by talking through it out loud and solving for any residual unknowns. You could also learn something from your peers as they give you feedback in order to make your strategy even better. Thus, you grow and your strategy becomes that much stronger as you verbalize it to others, increasing your likelihood of success.
Realize that while you may think it is easier to not speak up, and justify it because you don’t think it will add value, it is your obligation to your team to speak up and share. Silence is agreement. When you don’t speak, you are still saying something. And that something is that you agree with what is being said in the room. The reality is that in the example provided, you didn’t agree with the method the team was working through, you simply decided not to participate in the discussion and then go do your own thing. In order to show your commitment to your team of peers and to the people you lead/support, you are challenged and expected to speak up each day in order to get the best action, the best results, and the best execution possible. As a leader, it is your responsibly to contribute. Find your voice. Fight against the desire to sit in silence. Speak up!