System Leadership

Speaking Up, Listening Up – Making it safer for everyone to have a voice

Discussions about power in the workplace tend to be avoided. However, without an acknowledgement of its presence, it is impossible for people to explore the whole idea of “speaking truth to power”, which is increasingly seen to be vitally important to effective organisation. Nowhere is this more the case than in the NHS.

Moving from an organisational focus to a systems context also needs power to be foregrounded. Regardless of who is involved in these conversations, whether it be a chief executive or a clinical nurse specialist, power needs to be “called out”.
The Speaking Up, Listening Up (SULU) initiative helps leaders to:
1. Talk openly about the power context in which they find themselves;
2. Acknowledge the conversational practices that have served to date to sustain that operation of power; and
3. Find new ways of working in power, by learning to speak up and, at the same time, to create a climate around them of listening up, so that peers and direct reports feel confident in speaking out.

The SULU initiative encompasses a one-day programme to explore speaking up, giving voice to your concerns in practice, and fostering a listening climate. Additionally, we offer participants the chance to share an online survey with their team or those around them about “speaking truth to power”. This generates a report – and we provide expert facilitation to support the group to talk through the findings.
Offered for us by two expert faculty, SULU is grounded on a solid research base derived from work undertaken out of Ashridge Business School.

Page last reviewed: 26 May 2021