For the past few years I’ve been focusing a big chunk of time helping leaders within organisations increase the impact of their verbal communication. 

I’ve been providing space for leaders to raise awareness of their traits and behaviours and how they present at work. This awareness then leads to conscious action to resolve conflict, increase productivity through collaboration, enhance communication and influence strategic outcomes. 

I’ve had some huge insights from this work which has spanned hundreds of leaders from first line to director across a number of different industries, which I’m consolidating into a whitepaper. 

A trend that I see across the board are the challenges that come with speaking up confidently. There is a perceived fear that moving out of the comfort of silence will produce a risk of consequence:

Speaking up may mean you are a target for scrutiny

Or that you might not be chosen for promotion 

Or are seen as difficult and negative


This can be down to a number of factors including:

  • Cultural dynamics driven by organisational history
  • Personality traits which include diligence and deference and a respect for hierarchy 
  • Dark side behaviours (when stressed or overwhelmed) which include the need to ‘be perfect’ and please others.


Can we fundamentally shift cultural behaviour towards speaking up? 

Yes I believe we can. It’s not something that can happen overnight but it can be achieved by:

  • Becoming self aware of own behaviour

Providing a collective awareness of behaviour at all levels of leadership is the first step to creating a shift. This can be achieved at looking at nuanced personality traits, drivers and preferences and potential derailers. 

But this only gives one view (of the individual.) Adding an evidence based element such as a 360, mapped to the assessment criteria can give a full picture view and provide the best information for focused action. 

This includes written feedback from what others see in comparison to how a leader views themselves. The data can then be used in cohorts to see patterns and trends in behaviour at a team/ department level. I highly recommend the Hogan suite of psychometrics accompanied with the Hogan 360 for this. (I am qualified to administer and feedback the full suite.)

  • Collectively committing to action 

Sometimes in order for behaviour to shift, permission is needed. This requires the group to openly communicate and encourage behaviours (such as speaking up and putting ideas forward.) This also includes a declaration that people are safe to do so. This can be achieved though communicating values and behaviours aligned with culture and strategy and demonstrating at all levels that the behaviour is ok and encouraged. 

  • Providing the tools

In order to create long lasting shifts, tools are required to practise consistently to tread new behavioural pathways into the culture. Some areas of focus include:

The root of assertiveness and courage as a mindset

How to develop adult – adult communication at all levels (and move away from parent-child)

How to have challenging conversations without being triggered

How to influence others to achieve collaborative win/win outcomes

How to pitch your ideas successfully

How to resolve conflict by building trust


There are many practical tools and approaches that can be practiced using blended learning solutions that achieve the maximum transfer from the learning environment to the work environment. 

  • Review and evaluate

Measuring shifts in behaviour isn’t easy. But can be reviewed regularly at micro and macro levels including:

Pulse and employee surveys

Cultural surveys

Team support and ownership (making it part of the regular discussion)

Rewarding observation of desired behaviours

Leadership development programmes (using 360 and psychometric tools)

Performance and talent management reviews

And many more.

How I can help.

If you are experiencing challenges in this area within your organisation, let’s chat. I offer a number of solutions (and have availability from Sept 2023 onwards) to provide support in creating real sustainable change in how people can communicate confidently and speak up for more productive harmonious working environments. 


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