Mindset and Speak Up culture

In a recent workshop for early stage career high potentials we took time to examine mindset and the impact it can have on behavior and performance. On screen were a list of ten "unhelpful" mindsets (from "missing the bigger career picture" to "striving to be super human" to "keeping strengths and successes a secret"), but of all ten one stood out, and of the 35 or so participants fully 30 shared that the mindset that resonated the most with them was "Thinking you must be an expert to speak up".


As we discussed this further we found that almost every high potential self censored in meetings where other more experienced colleagues were attending.


As we turned to how to address this we looked at two approaches - what "reframes" could we use to shift our thinking and, what behaviors could we engage in / codify to minimize this self censorship behavior.


There then came a great list of steps to take - for the individuals and for their colleagues to address this:

  • Set the rule that the most junior people in the room get to speak first about a topic (especially brainstorming) to avoid the "blinkers of tradition / Expertise" or

  • Have ideas put on sticky notes (digital or physical and shared with the whole team at once.

  • One reframe was that as one of the newer people in the room they were more likely to add ideas that may have been tried and discarded in the past (but that might work this time)

  • Develop a "power phrase" or internal talk track to over write the "I need to be an expert" self talk

As a leader, how do you encourage a speak up culture?

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