Stepping Up Speaking Up and Taking Responsibility

29th July, 2016

Sticking to our comfort zone can sometimes lead to a lack of personal and professional growth but if we become more proactive, enthusiastic, and willing to tackle difficult conversations, the outcome can take us from an ordinary wallflower to a dynamic contributor!

Here are 5 good reasons why we all need to speak up (even when we think we shouldn’t).

1. Silence is deemed approval

You might think that staying silent keeps you from being involved in conflict but silence is as much an active form of communication as talking. Any time you are involved in a situation, people are aware of all the input and lack of it. If you disapprove and don’t say anything it will not make you seem easy going. You might feel shy or that you are being judged or you might even feel that other people are dominating the conversation but everyone has a valuable contribution to make. Your opinions and ideas do matter and people welcome them.

2. Make the greater good the priority

By sharing information, offering opinions and suggestions, you may open up the lines of communication between team members, making them aware of certain situations and perhaps even help to resolve a problem. When a person or team is headed down a dangerous path, it’s selfish to put your own need to be comfortable above the needs of others.

3. Show that you are invested

If someone invites you into a conversation, show your commitment to the process and people involved by being active and vocal (using tact and empathy of course). Speaking up is an important form of honesty which builds trust.

4. No one else may know

Your experience and knowledge adds value in given situations and no one else may have your unique perspective. Your piece of the puzzle may be the missing piece! So don’t wait around for people to read your mind, gather up your confidence and share your voice.

5. You may not be alone in your thinking

By speaking your mind, you encourage other people to do the same. If everyone holds back, the bus might silently fall over the cliff. So, bring it up!

As we make efforts to speak up and step up, it’s also very important to continue to acquire new knowledge and stay on top of trends and developments. Businesses will continue to grow in an ever-changing world and we need to stay current and take the initiative to keep learning and growing concurrently.

If you can be seen as an expert in your field, you will build credibility with your team and more than likely become involved in new and exciting projects. Here are a few tips on how to take on more responsibility and grow your role.

1. Talk to your manager

If an opportunity arises for you to develop your skills and knowledge base, speak up as soon as practical. The truth of the matter is, most managers are generally more focussed on their workload rather than on identifying new forms of development for their staff, but having said this, majority are open to supporting such initiatives.

2. Become an expert

Acquire new knowledge continuously and stay on top of trends or developments. One way is to set up Google Alerts for relevant topics. Pick your search terms, and any new articles featuring the terms you’ve chosen will be sent to you inbox by email. Another option is to use Twitter’s new hashtags. If you find articles relevant to your team, share them. This helps your team stay up-to-date and gains you credibility as a team player. LinkedIn is also a useful source and gives you the opportunity to follow relevant thought leaders who provide information on hot topics within their industries.

3. Be proactive

Stay positive, solution focussed and act pre-emptively. Take the initiative and do what needs to be done before being asked. Identify potential cracks before they emerge and act quickly (don’t always wait for a green light). Your foresight will always be appreciated.

4. Turn gossip into action

No credibility is gained by gossiping, unless it can be turned into action. When a negative issue is raised, turn the dialogue to solutions for resolving the problem or issue. Find allies who will help with the change and use positive language to deflect negative and adverse comments.

5. Take ownership

It is common to be assigned responsibility but you have to make a personal choice to take accountability and demonstrate ownership for achieving desired results. See it – own it – solve it – do it!

A person who is accountable for their results (good or bad) takes their assigned tasks seriously and goes the extra mile to ensure that the quality of their work is also a representation of themselves.

6. Make it a habit

Every time you take initiative, you build experiences that make it mentally easier to do it again. Regularly taking responsibility, staying positive and proactive, speaking up and stepping up, may train your brain to make those behaviours habitual.

In a nutshell, don’t be intimidated about speaking up, don’t use excuses or sit back and leave an issue for someone else or another department, try to get past a problem, join forces, make your positive thoughts and actions a habit, take small steps. If we do these things collaboratively, we will inspire and learn from each other.


Ian Pratt, CEO (South Haven Group)