Episode 30 – Creating a Speak-Up Culture – with Stephen Shedletsky
I’m not sure entirely why but I’ve been speaking up for most of my life, but not everyone speaks up and not in every situation. I have been wondering about why that is and was thrilled when I learned that Stephen Shedletsky, aka Shed, was also deeply curious about this topic, especially in the workplace. Join us in this conversation as we explore why he felt the need to write this book now, how our environment can pressure us into being unethical, and the value of transitioning to a speak-up culture.
Stephen Shedletsky is a Leadership Speaker, Author, and Coach. He has spent years helping leaders make it safe and worth it for people to speak up. Inspired by the work of Simon Sinek, Shed became the fourth person to join his team where for more than a decade, he contributed as Chief of Staff and Head of Brand Experience, Training & Development, and headed a global team of speakers and facilitators. Shed graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business with a focus on leadership, communication, and strategy. He also received his coaching certification from The Co-Active Training Institute.
00:05:27 Why this book and why now?
00:08:37 The value of transitioning to a speak-up culture
00:10:22 Personality versus environment
00:14:07 Combatting apathy
00:15:00 Low safety but high impact
00:17:00 A bad pickle
00:18:59 Leaders who listen
00:21:59 Environment can pressure us into being unethical
00:24:45 Human attributes rather than soft skills
00:29:30 Nelson Mandela on sitting in a circle and speaking last
00:32:30 Advice for speaking up
Happy Space Podcast episode 16 - Still in Search of Excellence - with Tom Peters
IMAGE CREDITS (see images on Youtube video)
Simon Sinek - credit Simon Sinek website
Amy Edmonson - credit Amy Edmonson's website
Happy Space Podcast episode 16 with Tom Peters - credit Clare Kumar
Alan Mulally - credit Wiki Commons
Indra Nooyi - credit LinkedIn
Scott Sonenshein - credit LinkedIn
Nelson Mandela - Wiki Commons
Craig Ferguson - Wiki Commons
Learn more about and follow Stephen:
Highly sensitive executive coach and productivity catalyst, Clare Kumar, explores the intersection of productivity and inclusivity continually asking how can we invite the richest contribution from all. She coaches individuals in sidestepping burnout and cultivating sustainable performance, and inspires leaders to design inclusive performance thereby inviting teams to reach their full potential. As a speaker, Clare mic-drops “thought balms” in keynotes and workshops, whether virtual or in-person. She invites connection through her online community committed to designing sustainable and inclusive performance, the Happy Space Pod. Why? Because everyone deserves a Happy Space.
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Song Credit: Cali by WatR. from Pixabay
Stephen Shedletsky: Hopefully we have cultures where the risk to speak up, the fear to speak up is surmountable. We shouldn't have to make a point to speak up. It should just happen. That's the sign of a healthy speak-up culture is, it isn't a big deal. It's just what we do around here.
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 30. Of the Happy Space Podcast. And today we're exploring why you need a speak-up culture with Steven Shedletsky.
Welcome to the Happy Space podcast where productivity meets inclusivity and everyone gets things done. Hello, I'm Clare Kumar, highly sensitive executive coach, speaker, and your host. Studies show that diversity leads to better business outcomes. So doesn't it make sense to invite everyone's richest contribution? Yet too many people are invited to burn out or opt-out and we are squandering talent. On this show, we'll explore a two-part solution. Part one, cultivating sustainable performance, the individual design of work and life to preserve our energy so we can keep contributing. And two, designing inclusive performance. The design of spaces, cultures, products, and services, which invite the richest participation. I hope you enjoy these conversations and find inspiration and encouragement for everyone deserves a Happy Space.
I'm not sure entirely why, but for most of my life I've been speaking up, noticing things, and then speaking them. I know my parents will attest to this, and we all remember one time where we had moved from the small town of Chatham to a new home in Waterloo, and we had to stay in a hotel for a night. And at that evening, late in the evening, probably sometime before midnight, there were partygoers and revelers in the hallway making a lot of noise. Well, for sure, the next morning, it was me at the front desk saying, “Excuse me, did you know that we got woken up the night before? And is there something you can do to make sure that it's a quiet place to sleep?” So it seems actually, now that I think about it, I'm still having the same conversations, but with different people.
It's been something that I've naturally gravitated to, but I noticed that in many, many places, people are not ready to speak up. And I'm curious about why that is. So when I learned that there was a book coming up on the topic called “Speak-Up Culture”, I was immediately excited about it. And I've had the pleasure of talking to Stephen Shedletsky, who's the author of Speak Up Culture. The subtitle here is “When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up”, And that speaks to the actual importance of creating a culture where people feel not only that it's safe enough, but it's worth it to speak up. And we dive deep into this conversation. It's a conversation about leadership. It's a conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and how important that is.
It's a conversation about what it's going to, you know, if you're someone who's wanting to speak up, things you can think about to step over that hurdle and become someone who does find and raise their voice. Stephen Shedletsky, also known as Shed by his friends, is a leadership speaker, author and coach. He helps leaders make it safe and worth it for people to speak up. Inspired by the work of Simon Sinek, he became the fourth person to join Simon's team and worked with him for more than a decade, continues to work with Simon. He contributed as his Chief of Staff and Head of Brand Experience, training and development, and headed a global team of speakers and facilitators.
Shed graduated from the Richard Ivy School of Business with a focus on leadership, communication, and strategy. He also received his coaching certification from the Coactive Training Institute. He lives here in Toronto with his wife and two young children. Please, listen for the points that you'd like to take away at the end. You'll hear how I talk about a way to win a copy of Stephen’s book, so, definitely tune in and think about what, point that, Stephen makes that you're going to carry away with you because I want to hear about it. And so does Stephen. All right. Enjoy the show.
Shed, thanks so much for joining me today.
Stephen Shedletsky: It's my pleasure. I'm delighted to be with you.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. It's such a fascinating topic. I've been someone who's had a bit of a reputation as someone who speaks up sometimes whether she's asked to or not. And I've been very, very curious about the whole topic of encouraging this in the workplace. And here you are with an incredible book, digging into exactly this topic. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to be in deep conversation with you. So, can we start to just get an understanding of why this is the book you chose to write.
Stephen Shedletsky: Sure. Thank you for the question, Clare. So I mean, I had been on the speaker tour for more than a decade. I worked with Simon Sinek for most of those years. And when on the speaking circuit, I'm sure you've got this question before, when are you going to write your book? particularly someone who is sharing somebody else's work. And my response to that question was always the same. It was if and when I ever come across something worth writing about that, I mean, I don't think I could ever finish a book that I didn't think needed to be out there.
And I think there are a lot of, particularly business speakers who write books because you need something to sell in the back of the room. And I never wanted to write one of those. I always wanted to write something that made me feel proud and that I knew served some purpose, and so just over a couple of years ago, so it would have been the early summer of 2021. I had stepped away from my internal role on Simon's team. I still do some work with them as an associate, but I was percolating. and this idea came to me, of writing this book called, at first I was going to call it Listen Down or Leaders Listen Down. I forget what I was going to call it exactly, but that felt this notion of great leaders, literally, everyone says, listen up. I think great leaders listen down, but it felt a little hierarchical, top-down pedantic, patriarchal, and, we ended up calling it, thanks to some advice I got from someone named Sue Barlow to call it speak up culture.
Clare Kumar: Well, nobody's searching for listen down either from a keyword perspective. I think you made a good choice.
Stephen Shedletsky: Noted. Noted. Yes. So sometimes you can make your own keyword search, but those situations are seldom and rare. So I came across this body of work. And then as I finished it, I mean, I knew I was writing it because I had experienced cultures at work in relationships where there was a speak up culture and it's marvelous.
Like it's magical. The strength and depth of the relationships that you have with the people on your team, not to mention the creativity, the trust, the amount that people have your back, the innovation. And then I have also been on teams where there isn't a speak-up culture, where you have to filter what you say, politics and ego are, are high, or you just zip it all together because it ain't worth it. And I want more of the former and not the latter. and the other piece, as I mentioned in the book, is I grew up with a stutter. so I know what it feels like to be voiceless, to have something that you want to say, but whether by confidence or physiology, you don't. I married a speech therapist, which was a good choice for my kids, not just me.
Clare Kumar: Very fortuitous. So you've lived the experience. You've witnessed the difference. And then when you say, you know, this richness that comes from being in a culture where people are speaking up, I mean, we saw for many years, bring your authentic self to work. There was so much lip service to that. So Are you seeing an impact for organizations that are able to transition into this kind of culture? What difference are you seeing that it makes for them?
Stephen Shedletsky: Well, it means that people actually can bring their authentic selves to work, and it's not lip service. And authentic selves could mean I wear my hair naturally. It could mean, I don’t have to conceal my tattoos, or whatever it might be, you know, if you truly have an environment where there is a speak-up culture were also meaningfully making progress on DEIB: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. It's not, when you have a speak of culture, you're making better business decisions because the people who are closer to the problems and the opportunities feel encouraged and rewarded that it's safe and worth it to actually voice.
And it feels worth taking the risk to speak up, as I'm sure you felt, Clare, you know, speaking up, it always takes courage. It's always this like oscillating dance of do I hop into the boxing ring and open up the ropes and jump in and say the thing, or do I just play smaller? What feels safer? What does it feel like it's actually worth? That risk to me, my reputation, my job, my relationships to say the thing, right? And so when you do have a, have a speak-up culture, people feel that it's safe and worth it to, to speak up and it's marvelous. And it means that we can have, to take from Kim Scott, the most radically candor conversations, which is good for business and good for the health and well being of the people who show up to work virtually or physically.
Clare Kumar: So personality can play a part in whether somebody speaks up or not. Can you talk a little bit to that?
Stephen Shedletsky: Absolutely. So personality does have an impact, but environment has a bigger impact. So, there's research done by Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala. Those are fun names to say. Say that ten times quick. But, Kakkar and Tangirella did a great, study that yes, there are people who have in their personality more of a propensity to speak up, but the two foundational pillars which make this two by two matrix that I put into the book, the two questions people will ask themselves before they make the choice, take the risk, to speak up.
Is it psychologically safe, and is it worth it? Now the is it safe component, is it psychologically safe, this is well documented. There are decades, worth of research here. Amy Edmondson has been huge in that, body of work and a huge, level of respect to Amy for her work and just for who she is as a human being. The other piece that I think is less known and less studied is the, is it worth it? So ideally we have environments where the perception from folks is that it's both safe and worth it, right? That I will be encouraged and rewarded for speaking up. It is worth the risk?
Now of course, we don't want the bottom left corner, which is that it's neither safe and it's, and it's not worth it. You will be punished. And that to me, I call it an unhappy marriage between fear and apathy. And I've been there. That's where we see quiet quitting and resignation. Now the two other interesting quadrants are. it is safe, but it's not worth it. So there might be close relationships where you can take interpersonal risk. That's the definition of psychological safety, but either due to bureaucracy. systemic change that is too hard to overcome or change in habits in others that are simply too hard to overcome. You may feel safe to speak up, but it may not feel worth it, especially after repeated attempts.
Clare Kumar: You got to listen to the conversation I had with Tom Peters. Because he's been speaking up for 45 years and I'm like, I've only been at this 30 years. How do you keep the energy to keep going? His definition of worth it was put to intellectually irritated. It's interesting, right? Because is there something around, I want to come back to the other quadrant if you want to talk about it too, where it's worth it, but not safe, which is a tricky one. But, it's, how do you sustain your energy when it's safe, but you're like, against that apathy that you're really saying, really, do you like banging your head against a wall? How many bruises do you want?
Stephen Shedletsky: Apathy sets in. So this is why to me, you know, I dare say that perhaps I've written maybe something somewhat original is even if it's psychologically safe, but after repeated attempts, there's no change.
Like why water soil where the plant has already died, you know, and the sort of unfortunate example I use of it's safe, but not worth it. If you have a friend who has three alcoholic beverages every night. And you're like, “Hey, you should probably, you know, recommendation say three a week”, you know, it's like, how many times do you speak up before you feel that it's a lost cause? So that's the interesting one where we still might speak up, but it doesn't lead to meaningful change. So from a long-term sustainability, I don't think you have a speak up culture now, the other one, which is low safety, but high impact. And this is perhaps some Tom Peters language of the stakes are high, I'm irritated enough. And so when it isn't safe, but it feels that it's worth it, especially, you know, the quintessential example I used in the book is that of Ed Pierson. So Ed is a former senior manager at Boeing. He was on the factory line of building the 737 Max. Yeah. retired 30 year U.S. Navy officer. and he didn't feel safe, but he felt so clear. He felt that the plane that they were putting out into the sky was not a safe plane. He still feels that way, by the way. This is where courage comes in, right? And speaking up is never without fear, because if it weren't for fear, we wouldn't have courage.
Clare Kumar: I love that line. I think it's twice in the book that I read it, and I was like, underline, yeah, without fear, you wouldn't need courage.
Stephen Shedletsky: And there's no such thing as fearlessness. In fact, if you come across someone who's fearless, they're very dangerous. Fear is important, fear is biological.
It keeps us safe. It's a risk modulator. So, the very short answer, of the long answer I just gave to your great question is, personality matters, but environment matters more. I use the example in the book of pickle brine as a metaphor for culture, because we can take the best world-class cucumber who's ethical, talented, has the courage, speaks up, you know? But if you put that cucumber in poor pickle brine, that's a bad pickle. and, you know, hopefully we have cultures where the risk to speak up, the fear to speak up is, is surmountable. like we shouldn't have to make a point to speak up. It should just happen. That's the sign of a healthy speak-up culture is it isn't a big deal. It's just what we do around here.
Clare Kumar: Do you have a ballpark for the percentage of organizations that are, this is how we roll? Have you, have you looked at it from that perspective?
Stephen Shedletsky: I don't, but I don't think it's high. I don't have a, have a good-rounded number. I think we could look to some of the research on it.
I mean, I have stats on the value of having a speak-up culture and psychological safety in a speak-up culture. That's well documented. The thing that gives me hope, though, is I'm often asked, what's a great example of an organization that has a speak-up culture? And my typical response is I refuse to comment because I don't evaluate organizations, I evaluate leaders. And organizations can change as leaders change.
Clare Kumar: Most definitely we've seen that very blatantly, lately.
Stephen Shedletsky: yes, yes. X. Yes.
Clare Kumar: Exactly. I think it should be named Y, actually.
Stephen Shedletsky: That's funny. Oh, that's so good.Take Microsoft as an example, Microsoft under Bill Gates, nerdy, yes, but quite remarkable and innovative and infinite-minded. Microsoft under Steve Ballmer, short-term focus, very competitive. And then now under Satya Nadella, wonderful, like wonderful.
Clare Kumar: yeah, I've used Satya, assuming we're on a first name basis.
I've used him in all my leadership workshops as an example of a leader who talks and uses the word empathy. He talks about displaying deep compassion. And I'll tell you when I put in male leader compassion. I was like, where are the examples? Do you have more? Are there more leaders you can point to that are, you think everyone listening could have a look at what this person is doing?
Stephen Shedletsky: Though they're long since retired, Alan Mullally, I think, did some great work and really set the condition for I expect you to speak up. In fact, I depend upon it for the success of this organization. And I'm referencing his time at Ford when he when he took over coming from Boeing Commercial. I think injured Indra Nooyi did some great work as well, both from a business strategy perspective of how to transform Pepsi from a sugar water company to one that, has health, well-being, and environmental conscious ethics on the foremost of its agenda. You know, I think the biggest thing with leadership is there's no such thing as a perfect leader.
There's no such thing as a perfect human. And so I think we can take a slice of many people's pies, to figure out what's our way. I don't think there's right and wrong. I think there's our way. you know, I think every leader of which everyone can choose to be a leader, because it's a behavior set, we can figure out what are our values, what do I care about, how do I behave in a way that is aligned with that, which is authenticity, and when you find people who believe what you believe and you behave in that way, you get a following. You're a leader.
Clare Kumar: What do you think the challenge is, though, then, for leaders? Is it that there are not a lot of leaders who have that mindset to begin with? Or is there, you know, I that makes sense to me, but I don't have time for that. What is going on?
Stephen Shedletsky: I think there's a few things going on. I think the very pickle brine that leaders show up and behave in is a little broken, aas well as… there's a trifecta of chapters in the book called leadership defined, select better leaders and then help leaders lead.
And so I think first and foremost, you know, I opened the book with the very dark real tragedy of the 737 Max. We could talk about the Titan submersible as another example of this, of putting profits ahead of safety, when people spoke up, and in both instances with the Titan Submersible and the 737 Max are documented incidents of former employees speaking up before they either were retired or were fired. So we know from those examples that environment can literally cause us to behave in unethical ways. And there is a study to prove it, which is the Good Samaritan Study that whether time pressure, financial pressure, whatever the internal or external pressure is, every one of us could be Dennis Muhlenberg, who is the CEO at Boeing, that you could look at it as a corporate crime, right?
But we could all be in that same seat and make the same decisions because of pressure, right? So pressure is especially hard when you're a public company, especially hard when you have shareholders or a board. Or, you are fighting to keep the company alive and make payroll, you know? So that's one of the pieces of, of the brine of that leaders are in. The other is, I don't think we well enough define what we mean by leader. My favorite quote on leadership is from a friend of mine, Rich Diviney, who's a retired U.S. SEAL, he says “leaders aren't born, leaders aren't made, leaders are chosen based upon the way that they behave”. And so I've attempted to cast a definition of leadership based on behaviors, which includes empathy and compassion, which includes service orientation and authenticity and decisiveness and accountability and ownership, right?
These are the ways that leaders behave. And when someone behaves that way, we follow. Now we could get into a whole different dialogue on why certain leaders who don't display those behaviors get voted into certain seats or chosen a different conversation for a different day, perhaps we can go there. but I think we need to better define leadership and then actually use that definition. I've seen organizations have a great little card on here's the wheel of what it means to be a leader at company. X, Y, Z. And then you look at the behaviors of the people that are selected, and it's just a card. It's not lived. So we actually have to select people who have a propensity or a track record of already behaving that way. And then give them training and support because leadership is really hard and can be lonely.
Clare Kumar: But we have to interview for soft skills and mindset and values and not, you know, what was the size of the billion dollars of orders that you actually generated?
Stephen Shedletsky: Yes, yes, we need to put trust on a pedestal and a priority over performance, because performance measures what trust measures potential. I don't like calling them soft skills. I think it devalues them. I call them human attributes or human characteristics. Because, again, this is from Rich Diviney's work. A skill is something that we can learn. It's a teachable skill.
Attributes are more inherent. We can develop them. No matter how many classes we send leaders to learn empathy, you can't learn it. You have to put yourself in experiences where you're tested, and it can be developed. You have to see the value of it.
Clare Kumar: You have to build it and practice it on someone. Which is hopeful for leaders who are hearing this going, “Oh, I haven't really thought about this”, and it's kind of new territory. So let's say we have a leader who's listening now and they're realizing speak up culture is actually about leadership. It's about inclusivity. It's about driving the best performance of the company through the team. Where would they start if they're thinking, what should I be doing now to encourage my team to start sharing?
Stephen Shedletsky: So again, the two pillars of a speak-up culture are people feel that it is both safe and worth it to speak up.
The greatest ways to make it safe and worth it is to encourage people to speak up and then reward them when they do. So encourage means I value your voice. Encourage means let me tell you a story of when someone spoke up in a meeting last week and it led to a better, decision, you know, encouragement is doing everything we can. It could be telling on yourself, “Hey team, I really want feedback on that presentation. I haven't heard feedback yet”, so I'm going to tell him myself on things that I think I could do better. Can you let me know how accurate I am or off base? You can even bring in sometimes, qualitative feedback is hard so you can use quantitative.
“Hey team, I'm working on my presentation skills and, and the clarity of my presentation. Please hop into the zoom chat or send me an email or whatever. Click on this QR code and anonymously let me know between a scale of zero to 10. And that was the best presentation and most clear in your life and zero meaning, you know, when can I get a coffee? Please give me your honest, review and if you all say 10, I think you're lying, please. I want to see your threes and your sixes and whatever it might be. And if you're so willing, I'd love to hear the reason you would give that so that I can improve for you in this organization.”
Clare Kumar: So it's like a mini 360 happening, right?
Stephen Shedletsky: Yes. And then reward when people do speak up, sharing ideas, feedback, concerns, disagreements, or dissents and, and admitting mistake, you must reward that behavior. Quintessential example of what not to do. There is a story shared by Scott Sonenshein, who is a professor of management at Rice University. And someone in his class who worked in the oil and gas industry shared a story of psychological safety in a speak-up culture gone wrong. So safety matters on an oil rig set out in the middle of sea. And there is a safety incident where someone used a wrong drill or installed it improperly and there was damage. And it was bad, but they didn't do so knowing that there was an issue. They didn't try to sweep it under the rug. It just kind of happened. The captain of that rig said, “who's responsible for it? We need to learn from this”. Someone raised their hand and said, “it was me”.
Stephen Shedletsky: The captain said, “thank you, you're fired”. This is a wonderful example of what not to do, because if you said, we need to figure out who did this and who's responsible for it so we can learn, you could say, we need to figure out who did this so that we can take appropriate disciplinary action. You've been warned. But it was a complete mistake and you've just fired the very person who could teach you how to prevent it from doing it again. Oh, and by the way, next time there's an issue on your rig, guess how willing people are going to raise their hand and say, I did it.
No, they're going to spend far more time sweeping it under the rug. the last thing I'll say on this of how to encourage and reward, because reward isn't necessarily an extrinsic, you know, bonus raise statue made in one's honor outside of the corporate headquarters, you know, reward could be, “thank you, that must've been hard to share.” Reward means I don't yet see everything that you see. Can you share more? Like all of these are intrinsic forms of reward. And the very last thing I'll say on this is, there are very few leaders that we can all look to in our history and be like great leaders. One of them is Nelson Mandela, like give me the argument that says Nelson Mandela was an ineffective leader.
Perfect human? Of course not. But effective leader? I think so. And so he was asked in an interview. how did you become so great at leading? And he said, “I followed my father's lead”. His father was a community leader and he said as a kid, when he'd travel with his father to other, community meetings, he noticed two things. One was that whenever he could influence it, his father would ensure that people sat in a circle because there's no apex in a circle, even though there still might be hierarchy because we're human, a circle denotes a quality, a circle denotes that your voice matters and you can literally make eye contact with everyone in a circle.
The other thing that Mandela's father did is as often as he could, he would speak last. And the number of times I've seen very senior leaders come into a boardroom, sit at the head of the boardroom and say, all right, team, I need all of your ideas, all hands on deck. We've got this issue or this opportunity. I need to hear all your ideas. What do you think? Here's what I think. And it's like, you're allowed to have ideas, but as soon as you share yours, you cloud everyone else's view, particularly as the most senior person in that room. If you have influence in that room, you should keep your mouth shut, ask questions, and gain more input before you speak up yourself.
Clare Kumar: That requires a couple of things. I think, humility, and patience, and maybe that's why we're not seeing so many leaders who are actually role modeling this.
Stephen Shedletsky: I think humility is the most needed human attribute in leadership. I think humility is one of the most attractive things leaders can display. Humility means having a modest view of oneself and it leaves space and room for others.
Clare Kumar: You know, as I think through my corporate experience, I was most impressed by a leader who showed up with that exact sense and was asking questions. They didn't need to come off being the most informed person in the room. They asked questions and they went up in my esteem by the power of the questions they were asking.
Stephen Shedletsky: And are they truly open-ended, genuine, and sincere, or are they questions being asked to prove to others how smart they are?
Clare Kumar: No, you're absolutely right. They were beautiful questions that opened the conversation. Amazingly powerful. Can we go back and do you have anything more to offer for someone who's thinking about speaking up? I'm thinking if there's anything more on the personality itself, I know the environment is more important, but what do you, what can you say to someone who's just like… I think there's self-worth involved. I think there's shame involved. I think there's all of the risk, and confidence. There's so many things that come into that. What do you think someone who's thinking about speaking up, but is just not quite there yet?
Stephen Shedletsky: So I think a few things. So one, this is actually attributed to the comedian Craig Ferguson, who came up with a brilliant, I don't know if he intended it this way, but it's been turned by management theorists into a wonderful Venn diagram, for speaking up, which is, does it need to be said? Does it need to be said now? And does it need to be said by me? And I think that's really wonderful, because sometimes it needs to be said, but not now, you know, and so it is harder to speak up the more people are present. It's called a many minds problem that as more and more people are there, it's just, it's simply harder to speak up for two reasons. There's lots of people and that can add pressure as well as the sort of, bystander of, well, someone else will say it. Yeah. But you know, does it need to be said? Yeah. Then the question is sort of the situational awareness and the emotional intelligence of how, how and when can this be shared in a way that it can be heard most and acted upon, which can, you know, politics do exist in, in organizations that can just be normal.
And so I think there are questions of what's the right time, people, environment, and then does it need to be said by me? Now there's nothing, I don't think, worse than this needs to be said. It needs to be said now, but not by me. Right? And that's where it's like, “Clare, I think we should look at that appendix slide that you made. The one that explains how big of an issue we have right now. Like, can you do that one now, please?” And so what's the sort of appropriate way that it needs to be said now, but not by me? You know, do you have a culture where you can call on someone in the most healthy, respectful, endearing, safe way? And if you do have a speak-up culture, that would be encouraged and rewarded. I think another thing that folks can do is if it feels like it should be said, it feels like you found the right moment, population, whatever it might be. and it feels like it's responsible and right for you to be that person who uses their voice and yet it still feels like you're wondering, I don't know, should I do it?
Sometimes saying the thing of how you're feeling of, “Hey Clare, I've been sitting on some feedback. If I'm really honest, like I'm exceptionally nervous to share it because I just don't know how it's going to be received. I think it could actually improve things around here, or it could improve your performance as a leader. Again, I'm really freaking nervous, but like, if you want to go there, I would be honored to go there with you”. And, and it creates the condition for another to go yes, no, or maybe. You could then be like, oh my God, thank you so much. You know, and I'm like, oh yeah, green light.
Clare Kumar: You’re sharing the responsibility there and as well, naming our emotions neutralizes them, right? Yes. So it then calms our amygdala down and we're like, oh, I've said I was nervous. Oh, look at that. I'm less nervous now. Wow. How did that happen?
Stephen Shedletsky: Yeah. And again, it’s yes, no, maybe so. Could be. I'm not interested. And it's like, “okay, great. I'll keep looking for other jobs”. It could be maybe where it's like, yeah, what is it? And I'm like, you're saying yes, but I don't know if you're, you really mean the Yes.
Could be, “hey, your quick and short response just makes me feel like now isn't the best time. So I'm not going to share it right now. but let me know, like, if you really want to have like a 15-minute conversation.
Clare Kumar: Put this and bring it back to me later.
Stephen Shedletsky: Based on your response of like, yeah, what is it? I don't know how fertile the soil is in this moment. Right. Right? Yeah, maybe Thursday afternoon.
Clare Kumar: But there's a whole lot of emotional intelligence in what you're saying now that the person thinking about speaking up needs to step into to be able to read the situation and then decide when they're stepping into that brave, hopefully not so nervous moment now.
Stephen Shedletsky: Yes. I think though that, there are some hacks and tips and some open-ended questions and some scripts that we might be able to use, which I've provided a little bit. I think there's more I that, that we can provide, but, you know, to help people flex that emotional intelligence muscle. Because I don't want that to be an excuse or a cop-out of like, well, I'm not emotionally intelligent enough to dare risk speaking up. I think asking for permission to share, to speak up can actually be telling.
Clare Kumar: Absolutely. And what came up for me when you were saying that is, you know, being prepared to see where things go when you open up the question and not being attached to that outcome and saying, okay, I'm going to dance in this, but at least you put it on the table through something to say. So then you can, I did, you know, I made my best effort. You can feel proud of that.
Stephen Shedletsky: Yeah, you can leave some, some crumbs and see if someone, legitimately wants, wants the whole meal.
Clare Kumar: That's right. What a teaser this is for the book because there's so much, I know there's so much more in the book and, and you've nodded to it. I want to thank you so much for joining me and I want to invite listeners and we talked about what to do at the beginning. I'm going to put a little twist on it. I want to invite everyone to share something they have got from this conversation. And the first, I'm going to say not the first person because I don't want it to be a race.
I want it to be the tenth person to share a comment and tag Shed and tag me on social media, we're in all the places. But tag us on social, not TikTok for me, but all the places and, and let us know what you took away from this conversation. What was the most powerful, takeaway for you, whether you're a leader and it's something you're going to do, or whether you've got something you want to speak up about and you're really thinking, you know what, now's the time and it should be by me and I've got something to say and it's needed. All of those three points. Do that and then Shed is going to send you a copy of his book when it comes out, which is going to be right imminently around when we're releasing this episode.
Stephen Shedletsky: It comes out on October 3rd.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. Exactly. So, you're not going to want to miss this book. It's a leadership book. It's an inclusivity book. It's a personal development book. There's just so much here and I am deeply grateful that you wrote this book, and you share so eloquently all the reasons that it actually matters.
Stephen Shedletsky: Thank you so much. A delight to join you. I hope this is valuable for all of you listening and look forward to hearing your takeaways in the comments. We'll be listening.
Clare Kumar: Thanks so much, Shed. Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening. You can find all of the Happy Space Podcast episodes over at HappySpacePod.com. I love learning what resonates with you, so please leave a comment about this episode over social media, or even better, post a review wherever you tune in. And if you have an idea for a topic to explore, or an inclusive action to celebrate, I would love to know more about it. It might even appear in an upcoming episode or an issue of the Happy Space newsletter. Please help me spread the word about people doing great things. After all, doesn't everyone deserve a Happy Space?