3 Ways to Create a Speak-Up Culture 

In a world that seems to rapidly be embracing “cancel culture,” how do we find the courage to speak up and what can we, as leaders, do to encourage a “speak-up culture” in our workplaces. This was a timely conversation with Stephen “Shed” Shedletzky as we dove into some of the key highlights from his new book: Speak-Up Culture: When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up. 

Here are my top 3 personal takeaways from my conversation with Shed. Watch the full recording here

  1. A Speak-Up Culture isn’t Loud. When I first thought about “speaking up” I thought it meant speaking up had to be both loud and public. Stephen emphasized that a speak-up culture is also a listening culture and a culture of curiosity. Encouraging a speak-up culture can happen in a one-to-one as much as it can in a group. As leaders, we need to both encourage and reward speaking up in order to make it a norm. 
  1. Buckle up. You’re Going to Need to Get Over Yourself. To enable a speak-up culture as a leader, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is our own sensitivity and ego. If we want to encourage people to share feedback with each other, and with us, we need to work on being open to it. In my personal experience, one of the best ways to role model asking for feedback in the form of “feedforward” as a way to build our capacity for criticism and reduce defensive responses. 
  1. Don’t Have a Feedback Culture? Look in the Mirror. Shed shared that “when you are a leader, your whisper is a shout and tiptoes are stomps.” Culture is created by a combination of our values and our behaviours. Both of these elements are heavily influenced by the effects of seniority, authority, tenure or relationships. The more influence one has, the bigger the impact on culture. If you find people don’t speak up, it’s probably time to step back and ask “what part of this situation is mine to own?” 

Shed shared lots of great models over the course of our conversation so be sure to watch the replay. Grab a copy of Shed’s book here and be sure to check out all the additional tools and resources he has made available to help you cultivate a team that embraces speaking up. 

And, to those who expressed interest in our #Impact215 campaign in support of Indspire, Learn how you can get involved and help us continue our quest to fund 215 student bursaries for Indigenous youth. 

We’ll wrapping our Ask the Expert series for 2023. Thanks to everyone who’s participated. We’ll be launching our 2024 calendar soon. 



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