Stand up


Leaders lead and that’s the obvious truth. What this means for you is that you must be ahead of others – often the first to say, try or do something in order to live into the title of “leader”; even when it’s risky.

Leading sounds particularly simple when you put it in these terms. However, you and I know it’s not that easy; and we know that there are certain opportunities to stand up as a leader that we let pass us by either because we lack courage, we aren’t paying attention, or we’re flocking with the other sheep.

In other words, we’ve lost our way as a leader. We need to be looking for opportunities to lead rather than passively waiting for them to come our way.

If you find yourself making excuses for not addressing an injustice, an ethical or moral violation, or poor treatment of employees in your company, what should you do?

Stand up. This is why standing up is important:

A leader doesn’t let things slide. They don’t turn the other cheek. They don’t explain away bad behaviors in others, no matter whether they are the CEO or the janitor. Leaders notice and do something about it.

A leader doesn’t excuse things that aren’t acceptable in others because they think they don’t matter. Injustice, ethics, and harm to others all matter; and when left to their own devices, these things multiply and cause more harm.

A leader has the courage to speak the truth, to call out the wrongs and promote the rights. They are the first to see it, the first to address it, and the first to stand up and take action.

A leader doesn’t put their own safety ahead of what’s right for others. They have the courage to speak out loud about what they see and call out the injustices in the organization.

A leader is willing to suffer the consequences of standing up for the greater good of others. They know that when they stand up they may cause harm to themselves, but they also know it is the right thing to do.

There is no better example of leadership than the one who is willing to risk their job to say what needs to be said. A leader who stands up stands out, no matter the consequences to themselves.

What are you letting slide or excusing away because of your own fear?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

4 comments on “Stand up

  1. Mary Jo,

    Great post! It is so important to stand up for the truth and what is right. I have found that the more you stand up for what is right, the easier it is to do so. As you continue to stand up, people around you begin to expect it out of you. I have been in situations where people have even said, “You won’t even accept that type of behavior because that is not right with you?” This feedback helped me to have more courage going forward to continue the habit of making good choices and standing up for what is right.

  2. Well Mary Jo Asmus, I´m from Venezuela and I´m agree with every word you wrote. And I have a son, he just graduated from the University and become a psychologist and started to work an a company of head hunters, and he told yesterday: because I defend my rights and have a good behave, my boss talked to me and told me: I´m sorry you got to go. So what you write it´s okay for the boss, but for any other employee, the result must be in almost 99% of the companies the same results that my son had. I wish you to respond to my reply. Thnak you.

  3. Hi Jorge,

    I’m sorry to hear about your son’s experience. You are correct, it should be that every company encourages ALL employees to respectfully stand up, but sadly, in heirarchical cultures this isn’t always accepted. We’ll keep hoping and working for change.

Comments are closed.