Taking a Stand; Speaking Your 'Truth'
One of my favorite quotes is by Emile Zola, who said, "If you ask me what I have come to do in this world, I will reply: 'I am here to live aloud.'"
This sentiment relates to a June 17, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle article that struck me called "Women speak up -- big names go down: Female whistle-blowers play by 'outsider' rules" by Harriet Chiang. Go here to read it: http://www.sfgate.com/
First, I acknowledge Ms. Chiang for paying attention to the recent pattern of women whistle-blowers and getting this column published. Second, I acknowledge and salute the women mentioned in the article: Colleen Rowley of the FBI; Cynthia Ossias with the State Department of Insurance; Sherron Watkins of Enron; and the mass of women who are middle managers and state employees that took a stand and raised their concerns for California's contract with Oracle. It takes a lot of integrity and courage to stand for what one believes in (and I don't mean in the righteous kind of "taking a stand"). These women were willing to risk their employment, friends' and colleagues' support, harassment, and to stand in front of the fire of the press, their employers, government and lawyers.
Two questions come up for me in the area of contextual leadership after reading this article. First, do we consciously celebrate the courage and accomplishment of other women in our teams, organizations, and communities? Take the time to look in your corner of the world. I believe that if we spent more time looking for what's working in the area of women's leadership, there would be less dismal or negative press about how hard it is to make it beyond the glass ceiling. Let's celebrate our triumphs, large a small, and look for where we are. Acknowledge other women publicly (and the men who support women) and look around.women leading change are everywhere!
The second question brings me back to a quote from our Women Leading Change program and a conversation that ensues during our programs. This quote is by Audre Lorde, written after she was diagnosed with cancer:
Where in our lives are we not using our courage and our mouths to speak up? Where are we choosing to live in fear or swallowing the "tyrannies?" What are the leadership moves that we're thinking about, but haven't taken any actions on? A couple of suggestions to manage these thoughts:
I'm not saying that taking a stand is easy, it rarely is, but to do so with courage is a sign of great leadership, no matter where you are in the organization or how small you may think yourself. Speaking up is an act of courage. We would ask the same of our children. Thank you all for the stands that you continue to take from our programs, in your families, organizations, communities, and particularly for yourself.
Coaching Tip by Jennifer Hibbits (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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