One of the defining behaviors of a leader is the willingness to speak up when working as part of a team. It can be daunting to voice a professional opinion in a business setting. In-depth research published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2017, “The Social Consequences of Voice,” explores how voice and gender impact leader emergence.
Promotive vs. Prohibitive Voice
What voice do you use? Predictably, prohibitive voice – warning about risk and expressing concern – has less impact than promotive voice – expressing improvement-oriented ideas for change. The AMJ study revealed that speaking up promotively is positively related to leader emergence and is conditional on the speaker’s gender. Men who spoke up promotively benefited the most in terms of status and leader emergence, not only compared to men who spoke up prohibitively, but also compared to women who spoke up promotively.
When you speak up, it is important to consciously focus on how you frame your suggestions. Present ideas related how to do things better, how to improve the organization, and how to grow the organization. While prohibitive speaking can be important, emergent leadership is more positively viewed by those who choose to speak up promotively.
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