I visited the Nonprofit Execs on the Edge blog recently and found a post entitled, “Nonprofits: a checklist of what not to say – ever” and after watching this video, it got me thinkning.
While in my current position, I have had discussions with superiors about my penchant for speaking up almost too often in meetings and that I am an “idea guy.” He goes on, "people are afraid of ideas because it causes them more work and they don’t know how to handle it most of the time. Most people are not idea people and they don’t like change. I am not telling you to stifle your idea, but instead write it down. It just might get said by someone else and it will still be considered or it might not. People listen to those who don’t speak that much in meetings when they do speak up." In fact, this aspect of my personality is one of the reasons why I chose to name this blog Williteration. Needless to say, this has been a good exercise for me and I am sticking to it.
Some may see this as a personal character flaw, having a Meyers-Briggs ENTJ personality-type. I see this as a strength. My wheels are always turning and I am always ready to contribute a new idea that perhaps no one else is thinking. New ideas excite me. I think the Nonprofit Execs on the Edge blog sums it up quite nicely, “There’s no better way to inhibit board or staff from thinking optimistically and creatively than to manage by excuse, stifle ideas before they’re voiced and vetted, or let pessimism rule all.” Perhaps I am overly optimistic or my voice in meetings has the tendency to steer the course of a meeting in another direction. Is discovering what, at first seems impossible, that it is, indeed possible really a negative thing? Should we stick to what works at all times and never consider the what if? Should we allow our organizational culture to dominate our actions, when independently, we would act differently if the social norms of the organization were not a factor in our behavioral decisions?
It is true that to create order in an organization there must be some norms and dictates that we all must adhere to or else there would be complete chaos and we would be horses pulling a cart in all directions at once rather than in the same direction together (this is a metaphor a fraternity brother of mine used while in a meeting in college and I always think about it when thinking about leadership in organizations). Be this as it may, how do we realize the untapped potential of our employees in any given organization and in particular, within nonprofits if we suppress them by using any one of these fourteen excuses outlined in the video above? I think this video showcases what we should avoid if we are to truly reveal the greatness in ourselves and our organizations. One example in particular that embraces this idea is the working environment at Google. They are overflowing with new experiments and products all the time. Do you have some measure of untapped greatness in you? Speak up, let your voice be heard.