There are times when it seems we just can’t win.

At all levels of leadership, including the very highest, leaders can find themselves in disagreement with a major policy direction being promoted by the senior team. This is particularly true when the leader was not consulted prior to the decision having been made.

Confidently expressing a unique point of view, by speaking truth to power, is what courageous leaders do, albeit with respect and tact.

While the above is an ideal outcome of disagreements at the highest levels of an organization, sometimes a senior leader is encouraged by a boss not to speak up and not to voice disagreement, because “the decision has been made.”

Silencing an executive who believes the organization is headed down the wrong path can be disastrous enough.

Making this even worse is when the same boss that asked the leader not to speak up then criticizes the leader for not attempting to influence the policy or future direction of the organization.

One can only wonder what the motives of such a boss are when sending this mixed message.

This is a recipe for confusion and frustration at the highest ranks of an organization. Leaders must feel safe articulating their unique points of view, and bosses need to support their direct reports.

If a boss truly believes that “the train has left the station”, and that a decision will not be reversed regardless of what a direct report advocates, the boss must then support direct reports should they be accused of not speaking up, especially when that boss encouraged the leader not to do so.