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When Nobody Wants To Tell The Boss

As a leader, staying comfortable by staying quiet is a selfish act.

Who will tell the boss? Many teams know something should be said regarding a leader’s behavior or actions. But, since nobody wants to do it, the boss never gets critical feedback and nothing ever changes. What would happen if someone stepped up? Even if that person is not comfortable with confrontation, could it make a difference?

I know a woman who is not comfortable with confrontation. It’s part of her personality. Like a lot of people, she stuffs her issues down. She is not alone. The thought of an uncomfortable moment creates anxiety for most people. Like many others, this young woman got in the habit of swallowing hard and driving on. Unfortunately, she has a father and a grandfather who challenged her on the habit. You see, this woman is my daughter, Samantha.

My daughter is blessed to be a college volleyball player. She arrived at college with a great attitude, a strong work ethic and a fear of confrontation. Her volleyball coach, on the other hand, was direct and didn’t mince words. This coach needed someone bold enough to step up and confront her.

Samantha called me during her freshman year regarding a team issue. Some of her teammates had come to her for advice and she, in turn, called me. My advice was simple: “Tell the coach.” There was a long pause on the other end of the line. I knew what she was thinking, “I should have called mom!” But, she knew speaking directly with her coach was exactly what she needed to do.

During her freshman and sophomore seasons, Samantha continued to call me for advice. Most of the time I listened and asked one question, “What do you think needs to be done?” She knew the answer. At first, she tried to find ways to avoid approaching her coach. But, she put aside her fears and comfort to do what needed to be done.

As a result, her teammates began to look to her as a leader. They came to her for advice in areas even outside of volleyball. She led without the title, all because she exercised Courage and Selflessness to give her coach feedback.

During her junior and senior years, my daughter’s teammates voted her Team Captain. Now it was her job to have tough conversations with the coach. She continuously had to be the spokesperson on behalf of her teammates. Interestingly, I rarely got anxious phone calls during her years as Team Captain.

At her final awards night, after four years of college volleyball, her coach said, “I could always count on Samantha to challenge me. I didn’t always like it. But, she made me a better coach.”

Though her personality consistently pushed her to stay quiet and avoid tough conversations, Samantha recognized it was selfish for her to stay comfortable when her teammates and her coach needed her to speak up. Exercising the Courage to overcome her fears became a habit over time. She didn’t need to call me because she built the habit within herself.

She grew as a Leader of Character by exercising Courage to overcome her fears, Humility to put herself in a tough position for the good of the team, and Selflessness to realize staying quiet is a selfish act.

When we act selflessly and put ourselves in uncomfortable positions for the good of others, we lead in a way which creates followers. That is why someone should tell the boss. Ask yourself today, “Why shouldn’t it be you?”

Dig Deep Questions:

  • Who will tell your boss what they need to hear—even if they don’t like it?

  • Has your own comfort ever caused you to choose selfishness in the past? If so, what new choice can you make moving forward?


It is important to us for you to have an opportunity to exercise Selflessness, not only individually, but together as a team. This is why we have created practice cards with scenarios. We invite you to discuss as a team what it means to exercise Selflessness via our Coaching Cards.

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