Leaders Must Speak Up For Their Beliefs

Which is better, being tactful, or getting something that is needed accomplished? Many supposed leaders seem to prefer using tact because either they don’t wish to offend anyone, they are trying to be polite, they are being “nice,” they want to be popular, or, if we are being truthful, to avoid confrontation, conflict, and action that may not be universally popular.

Leadership is not, and must never be about popularity. Many leaders have referred to themselves as “populists,” yet, in general, these individuals are lacking a personal vision, or inner yen to accomplish what they feel is essential. If someone calls himself a leader, he cannot avoid action by saying that he wishes to do what his constituents want, often using words like, “I’ll take my lead from our members.” After more than three decades training individuals to be leaders, and what that entails, not having and voicing goals to accomplish, an agenda to follow, or one’s vision, is the antithesis to effective leadership. Those types of people should be referred to as caretakers, rather than leaders, and their “action by avoiding action” method of “leadership” generally results in them not taking very good care of their organization either.

Effective leadership demands that one speaks his mind, especially related to important issues. Avoidance and procrastination are not appropriate reactions or remedies, and almost always results in serious, generally undesirable future ramifications. A leader cannot and must not “bury his head in the sand,” and think that avoiding an issue will make it go away. Appropriate decision making will determine the significance and priority of a particular situation, and if one follows this procedure, he must take whatever action seems most appropriate. There are those in leadership positions that seem to think that they should not speak up until after others voice there opinions, yet the very definition of a leader is one that leads (not one who follows the herd). The late Senator Charles Goodell said that “Politicians are like antelopes. When there is danger, they paint their behinds white and run with the crowd.” Is there any doubt that type of behavior is a major contributing factor to the low esteem the public holds for most politicians?

Each of us must never fear speaking our minds on issues that concerns us. We should educate ourselves fully to assure we understand the issues thoroughly. We should understand ramifications of acting as opposed to doing nothing. We should try to be polite, but demand that “right” is done. Leaders must understand that staff will never correct something unless it is pointed out, and the need is shown for why the change is needed. There is a big difference between being tactful and delusional!