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Being a “coward” – an organizational necessity......

...or requirement? Organizational instability seldom fosters an efficient work culture and workplace. Organizational leaders strive for peace and stability within the organization to ensure efficiency and measurable results. Organizations depend on a certain level of stability to function. Yet, there is a difference between organizational discipline based on sound and transparent leadership and one, which is based on a culture of distrust, and inadequate control of employees. You can quit – that is probably the easiest way out of an unhealthy organizational culture. But what if you choose to stand up instead? Is it worth the risk? 

Think like a coward (or whimp) and secure your career? In many cases this is not far from the truth. Noticing facts and behavioural patterns forming an uncomfortable truth is easier to avoid than to tackle the truth. Make noise and you are perceived a trouble maker. No one wants a troublemaker. Organizations know that, employees and job seekers know that too! That is why the majority remain silent. Ethically one might expect people to stand up when they discover wrong-doing(s) within an organization. Don`t be surprised when that is not happening – most will seldom protest and choose to rather let the issue pass unnoticed. 

I recall a statement - `Yes, the organization has not always treated its employees fairly or even in line with the labour law`, a former colleague once said. He clearly demonstrated that it was neither his business nor in his interest to meddle. Why should he? Two years down the line he was due to go on pension why rock the boat? We all understand such a priority. Yet not even the young employees would consider standing for what is right?  Or is it too much to expect for employees? As a woman I appreciate the 850 Woman mechanists in the 1970s working for Ford that took a stand for equal pay.  For without brave employees our inequality would have been far greater.  Have we lost our passion? Or is our barometer for what is right and wrong so out of sync that we no longer care enough to take a stand.  

Perhaps. Organizational “cowards” are in many respects perceived loyal and not at all as cowards. They don’t protest and they don’t criticize – at least not more than what is necessary to be considered an awake and engaged employee. Criticism from a loyal employee has its clear limits. On behalf of the organization however, organizational “cowards” may be courageous spokespersons. It is clear, that as long as you have backing from a full organization, being outspoken is easy compared to cases where it means going against organizational wrongdoing. That is when you are labelled a trouble-maker and this is where most – remain silent.   

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