Speaking Truth to Power

How do you communicate the truth with people above you?


Brian Wells, co-founder of Flashlight Entertainment, says that if you can develop the ability to respectfully and authentically "speak truth to power," you will put yourself in the top 5 percent of leaders out there. It’s certainly not easy—maybe you’re talking to your CEO, your biggest client or your father-in-law—but when other people have the balance of influence, are you going to tell them what they want to hear or tell them the truth? 

Watch this video to hear Brian offer life lessons from his personal leadership journey.

I think probably the rarest trait that I see in leaders, whether it's people that work for me or others that I've worked for, is the ability to speak truth to power. I think a lot of times it's very difficult, when we're in environments where somebody else is the base of power in that room, maybe they're your boss, maybe it's the CEO of the company, maybe it's a customer that you have to close the deal with, whoever, when you're in a position where the other person clearly has the balance the power in their favor, are you going to say to them just the things that you think they want to hear, or are you going to say to them what truth is?

If you can develop the ability to speak truth to people but to come at it from a standpoint of respect, to come at it from a standpoint of respect their position, but then also disagree with them, right then and there, you're putting yourself probably in about the top 5% of leaders. But that's a lesson that I've been in where I've been in boardrooms, where research is being presented, and the numbers are being massaged just a little bit to tell the VP something that's kind of not quite true. I've been in rooms reviewing our advertising copy for a new national campaign we were going to put on, and yeah, that's technically what the data supported, but the product doesn't really do that. And are we going to put that piece of advertising on the Internet?

We all have these opportunities where we're in places where we don't have the power in the room, but somehow we've got to find the way to speak truth even when we don’t.


Brian Wells

Brian Wells’ entrepreneurial ventures kicked off at the age of nine when his mom caught him selling his deceased grandfather’s belongings to the neighbor kids out of the family garage. It was Brian’s first lesson in how even the most ...

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