Monday, April 29, 2013

What Happened When I Spoke Out

My recent post about being a change agent reminded me of one of my personal favorite posts I wrote back in July 2005 titled "Welcoming Reality - The Furious Indifference to Our Cause."

I was writing about a time when I was in the midst of a bad work situation, but at the same time was inspired by a great worker and some great change agents (several of whom didn't last). Specifically, I was wrestling with "Do I save my skin and compromise my values, or do I step out and speak my mind, and whatever happens happens." The risk was real. Over the previous year and a half, I had kept a tally of 17 people in our group who had been let go for various or mysterious reasons. As a manager, I tracked this and other turnover in our department. We were something like 300% over the average of the rest of the IT world.

Well, I chose to speak out.

And I was let go as part of a second round of layoffs couple months later. Terrible? Yes, and no. I'm writing this now to let you know:

  1. I lived, and 
  2. I'm better off

When I talk about courage in my ScrumMaster classes, I look at students in my class and I think of this valley in my life. I know that these situations can be scary for many of them.

But these tests and trials develop something inside us that you can't buy or get from a book. It's only from experience. And your people will respect you for your courage and selflessness (can't buy that, either). These tests develop perseverance, and that gives you genuine character, which leads to hope. Hope is a core leadership trait per Jim Collins and Gallup (see The Stockdale Paradox and What Followers Want from Leaders). Personally, since that time I've gone on to speak my mind more often (and learned to position, influence and build support much better - great skills for a change agent) and live a life where I don't dread coming in to work, no matter what the situation.

I'll re-post it soon, so keep an eye out, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it -

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