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Leadership: Speaking Up vs. Silence

“What would you do if you heard a rumor that a co-worker was on drugs or had a drinking problem?” Last night at dinner with friends there were many “What if” or “What would you do” questions tossed around. The first about a chemical dependency was one of them. Another was “What would you do if you heard some news that affected a client, a family member or a colleague, that hadn’t been shared with that individual yet? Would you tell him/her, even if it was good news?” We polled the table and it seems women would say something and men wouldn’t. Interesting don’t you think?

“What would you do if you heard a rumor that a co-worker was on drugs or had a drinking problem?” Last night at dinner with friends there were many “What if” or “What would you do” questions tossed around. The first about a chemical dependency was one of them. Another was “What would you do if you heard some news that affected a client, a family member or a colleague, that hadn’t been shared with that individual yet? Would you tell him/her, even if it was good news?”

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We polled the table and it seems women would say something and men wouldn’t. Interesting don’t you think?

In my world, where I hear decisions as they’re being made, these decisions directly affect my clients lives, whether it’s a posting abroad, a promotion or a political appointment. I cannot say a word for various reasons, one being a confidentiality issue as everything shared with me or in front of me remains confidential by virtue of the ethics of my profession among other things and secondly if for any reason any information would leak out, they might lose the appointment and that wouldn’t be good news for anyone.

Still, for example, if you knew your spouse was going to find out something life altering, a promotion, a transfer etc before he or she knew of it, and it also impacted your life, what would you do? Would you say something or wait for official notification? The last question that was asked was, “If you hadn’t said anything would you fess up to having known it beforehand?” That’s probably the biggest dilemma of all as it might affect the level of trust between the two of you. Or would it perhaps strengthen it?

A dilemma for many; black and white for others. Many had a very hard time with this, more with finding out someone close to them knew and didn’t say anything, even when it was fantastic news. They felt betrayed.

If you were in this position, would you do and why? Your answers will help many people in this position and, perhaps, you yourself if you become faced with this same issue at some point in your life.

Donna Karlin • Executive and Political Shadow Coach™ • Ottawa, Canada • •www.abetterperspective.com

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About the author

Donna Karlin CEC, Diplomate IABMCP and founder and principal of A Better Perspective® & The School of Shadow Coaching, has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow Coaching® with global political, government, business and senior organizational leaders in the public and private sectors. Donna capitalizes on almost 30 years of experience in coaching, consulting and training to help clients and their organizations evolve into their level of excellence.

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