Speak Up & Speak Out

Seek out positive alliances. There’s strength and safety in numbers.

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For the first time in some sixty years, Hollywood has gone on strike. Actors are joining writers in striking against the use of AI in the making of screenplays.

Clearly, something has really broken down in Hollywood’s leadership if the only action its people have left to take is to risk what they love. They’re prepared to withdraw their labour and passion because there’s no other way to get the leadership’s attention.

It’s sad that people in western developed nations still have no option but to strike in 2023. Trade Unions were created nearly 100 years ago to combat horrendous working conditions when no one else cared. Today, employers do not believe that they need them. If their people do turn to them, it’s perceived as a failure of leadership. Yet many businesses and organisations do not have the inclusive culture needed for their employees to speak out.

This week, I made my way to Birmingham to speak at a leadership event hosted at Aston University. The auditorium was buzzing with caring and ambitious colleagues. There was a group of progressive general managers (GM’s) who look after student accommodation across the UK. It was the first time they were meeting in person in almost a year, and it was my privilege to have been asked to speak to them about leadership.

They are responsible for a cluster of buildings within Universities. They are accountable for the wellbeing of the tens of thousands of students who arrive from every corner of the globe. From the hour I spent with them, it was easy to recognise how deeply they cared about the work they were doing and the people they were responsible for. But they were not shy to ask for help and direction, because like many leaders, they felt a little isolated and were crying out for both recognition and support.

We had a lively and challenging session on Inclusive Leadership. One of the GMs highlighted both how much they enjoyed their job, but how tough it could be. Many things that went wrong were out of his control, but he didn’t want to let anybody down. His vulnerability was met with warm applause. Every colleague agreed that they had felt the same way. But now , together here in the auditorium, they felt the power of coming together.

It only takes the courage of one person to stand up and speak out, as others will quickly follow. We are all much stronger together.

Clearly one thing AI cannot do is help us communicate better with leadership. It still takes human bravery, empathy, and the ability to walk in the shoes of others to create that connection.


Thought for the week:

You will feel isolated at times — seek out positive alliances. There’s strength and safety in numbers.


Top tips for becoming an A player:

  • Your team are everything.
  • Authenticity works.
  • Always lead by example.
  • Remain vocal and optimistic about the potential outcome.
  • It’s not always wise to want to appear strong when you are weak.

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