To be (the contrarian), or not to be…

I had a draft article sitting in my blog-o-sphere since early September that I never published. I was concerned about who might read it and what sort of trouble that might invite, either from higher or more importantly, lower in my chain of command. I hit publish this morning, regardless. Here’s the link, in case you’re interested: “When the outspoken go quiet.”

The number of emails or letters I have drafted and not sent, or formulated in my mind as I toss and turn before finally falling asleep, since September is ridiculous. There is so much I want to say, but I don’t know who will listen, nor how to deliver the message in a way that it will be credible. A contrary or challenging voice is fraught with risk, most especially in hierarchal structures such as I find myself a part of. Equally, there is risk to not voicing things as well – stagnation being but just one.

In my baby Twitter days (@jencauseyarmygirl_jen) I came across a recommendation for a book, Leadership on the Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. I’m less than 50 pages in and I think I have highlighted about 10 different sections thus far. A couple warrant mention here:

You appear dangerous to people when you question their values, beliefs, or habits of a lifetime. You place yourself on the line when you tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Although you may see with clarity and passion a promising future of progress and gain, people will see with equal passion the losses you are asking them to sustain….

But, adaptive work creates risk, conflict, and instability because addressing the issues underlying adaptive problems may. involve upending deep and entrenched norms. Thus, leadership requires disturbing people – but at a rate they can absorb.

– Leadership on the Line, Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky

If not me, then who? Who will speak? Who will ask the questions that need to be asked?

I find the silence to be deafening, so I choose the path of contrarian. But I must learn how to navigate the path wisely, at an absorbable rate. Wish me luck friends.

2 thoughts on “To be (the contrarian), or not to be…

  1. eleanorftaylor

    Jen, As always a thought provoking read. Heifetz and Linsky make an interesting point: “leadership requires disturbing people – but at a rate they can absorb.” I submit that now is the time to worry less about the rate that people can absorb and worry more about what opportunity may be lost if you chose not to act/speak. I have utter confidence in you, my friend to do the right thing at the right time. You need no luck.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s