“The most dangerous phrase in the English language is: we’ve always done it this way.”
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have said your opinion out loud, offered a new way of doing things, and was faced with a hostile reaction?
Big or up-and-coming corporates during their lifetime co-exist with the potential threat of not finding innovative ways to tackle issues and therefore develop the business further. This risk increases dramatically incorporates where there is no culture of bravery. But what does it mean to be intellectually brave at work?
Intellectual courage may be defined as being aware of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints, even when one has strong negative emotions towards it and to which one has not given a serious hearing. At work, according to Timothy R. Clark, ( https://www.leaderfactor.com/psychologicalsafety ) intellectual bravery is a willingness to disagree, dissent, or challenge the status quo in a setting of social risk in which you could be embarrassed, marginalized, or punished in some way.
The reasons for creating a feeling of stoppage towards intellectual courage in the office are many. The main one relates to leadership style. Being the person in charge of creating the tone in a group and for setting down the rules of what is welcomed and what is not, the leaders are ultimately responsible for creating a rigid and fearful sensation with their teams or an open one that rewards different opinions. There are two types of leaders that each one of us might face in their careers:
the fostering leader and the authoritarian. The fostering leader is someone who creates an environment of trust and supports their teams in coming up with new ideas and solutions for ongoing issues, dissolving authority that comes from hierarchy and only focuses on finding the best solution, even when that solution contradicts the options they brought to the table. The fostering leader does not engage in emotional reactions, only speaks at the end, so as not to affect the opinions of others, and favors those who do not agree with him but rather bring better options as solutions. The authoritarian leader is the leader that values their opinion above all else, has no or little regard for other solutions, thus creating an atmosphere of fear and causing team members to never share opinions, especially negative ones but that might help in figuring out what’s not working out for them.
Another reason is a strong vertical hierarchy. Vertical hierarchy companies have a strong chain of management, usually with a CEO at the top making decisions and then delegating authority to lower-level managers. According to data, in the new era of business, new and innovative companies are looking forward to transforming their management style to a more
horizontal or hybrid one, by creating small autonomous units, led by a manager and fostering a culture of spirit and agility of performance while focusing on their ability to make creative decisions and innovate. In a vertical hierarchy organization, it is less likely for new and alternate opinions to receive focus. This happens because the rigid ladder of decision-making creates difficulty for innovative ideas to reach the right ears. Also, having one all powerful-decision-making-leader, it leaves little space for intellectual bravery, as it usually zeros personal and professional guts to come forward.
The third cause might relate to the existing corporate culture. Corporate culture is an organization’s values, ethics, vision, behaviors and work environment; it shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Corporate cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. Companies that have been running for a long time and have already a set way of doing things, including how they deal with different opinions or negative feedback from teams regarding certain decisions, decision-making processes, or management styles in general. Therefore, it is harder for young and innovative leaders to make changes. On the other hand, companies with good corporate culture often have high workplace morale, and highly engaged, productive staff. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash big amounts of energy toward a purpose and thrive.
Creating or changing your corporates environment to one that enables employees to speak up is no easy task, but it is certainly a crucial one to create because the outcome of having courageous teams with space to share different views and taking these views into consideration as innovative ways of tackling issues, delivers a healthier culture and overall increases productivity.
People will realize it’s OK to speak up – and it’s OK to mess up, too. There will be a culture where all input is welcome and beneficial. So what are the specific steps you can take to build intellectual courage? …..Head up to Vigan Group, one of the best consulting companies in Albania to learn more.