When you see something that’s off, do you speak up?

I was listening to Andy Stanley talk about responsibility and authority. He said that we all have responsibility that exceeds our authority.

Here’s what that means:

  • We all have jobs that come with the authority to do them. When you see something that is off and it doesn’t involve your job, it’s easy to not speak up. It’s a safe path.
  • No one will get defensive, if you don’t speak up.
  • You avoid potential confrontations, if you don’t speak up.
  • It can be a hassle to speak up because you may get roped into helping correct the problem. You avoid that too.

But Stanley points out, when everyone just stays in their lane without speaking up, problems worsen until they affect more people or come to light in a different way.

If people speak up, problems and opportunities get addressed before they fester or before the opportunity passes.

So, here’s the challenge: Can we create an environment where people can look around and speak up?

This could be a long discussion, but here are a couple of thoughts.

To be an organization that reaches its potential, we have to be teammates who receive feedback constructively and without defense. That’s a choice. The natural response is defense. Can you make the choice to put defense down?

To be an organization that reaches its potential, we must have the curiosity to pay attention to what goes on beyond our reach, the initiative to inquire and suggest ways to make it better, and the courage to speak up.

As we close this note, think about our company and any other group to which we belong. What do you see that requires your curiosity and courage to make things better?

Acting upon those things is “happening to the world.” It’s being responsible beyond your authority.