Why Your Company Needs Brave Employees


Are your employees empowered to speak up and challenge the status quo, or do they keep it safe? By Janine Popick (Founder & CEO, VerticalResponse)

This story first appeared on Inc.com

Every business has many types of employees. I've written about a variety of them in the past, from rock stars to bullies to butt kissers.

There are the ones who clip their toenails at their desk. Every company has a blend of the good and bad. But there's one type of employee that I want to single out: the brave one.

If your business does not have brave employees, you could be missing out big time when it comes to truly having top talent. What exactly do I mean? Let me tell you...

Being Safe Gets You Nowhere

At too many companies, employees are afraid to rock the boat. Fear paralyzes them. Fear shuts them down and shuts them up. And that, my friends, can prevent your business from going where it needs to go. What you need are some fearless, brave souls who are not afraid to push back when necessary. They are not afraid to challenge things and speak up for what your customers and business need and want. These folks will bubble up issues, not bury them in an attempt to be safe. Safe won't get you growth or momentum. Safe will get you status quo.

You Need to Be Brave, Too

So, how do you ensure your employees feel safe enough to be brave? As the leader of your company, you've got to lead by example. If your employees see that you and your leadership team question the status quo and seek out honesty, they may feel more empowered to follow suit and speak their minds.

But here is what's really important: When they do speak up, it's all about how you or their managers react. Do you fire-hose them? Or do you truly listen, take them seriously, and empower them to be heard?

It takes a brave leader to have a brave team. So, I ask you, are you feeling brave?

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About the guest blogger: Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service e-mail marketing, event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions empowering small businesses to create, manage, and analyze their own direct marketing campaigns. The company has more than 100,000 customers and was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000 list. Janine also blogs for the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog for Small Business. Follow her on Twitter at @janinepopick.