The European Business Review


Most managers know they need to create an environment where people can speak up in order to hear innovative ideas and avoid scandals. Research from a new book ‘Speak Up: Say what needs to be said and hear what needs to be heard’ (Financial Times Publishing 2019), suggests that most managers assume they are approachable – but in fact they are ‘deaf ’ to the effect that their status and authority has on others. In this article its authors, Hult Professor Megan Reitz and her research partner John Higgins from Gameshift, share their findings, invite you to reflect on your ‘scariness’ and provide advice on how to enable others to speak up.

A CEO mutters “See? I knew they didn’t have anything to say!” as he comes off the stage at a large company meeting. He has just asked the audience “Do you have any questions?” and was met with silence. He reads this to mean a lack of initiative – something he’d been complaining about for quite some time. He’d called the meeting to prove his point.

He is utterly blind to the silencing effect that his power has on his colleagues; to how risky it feels for others to speak up to him. Consequently, he is oblivious to the ideas that he never gets to hear about and the

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About the Author
Dr.Dr.hc. (mult) PETER LORANGE, Chairman, Lorange Network, Emeritus President IMD (Lausanne). After having sold his shipping company in 2006, Peter has been regarded as one of the world’s foremost business school academics, holding the position of Pr