professional identity and will help prepare you
psychologically to act when the time comes.
■ ■ Don’t count on others to act. Google the “passive
bystander effect” to see how a significant
fraction of normal people will watch a tragedy
unfold and take no action. Awareness of this
tendency will better enable you to overcome it.
■ ■ Ensure you have a deep understanding of the
relevant facts, legal, and ethical considerations
to ensure your opinion is well grounded.
Provided you don’t have a time-sensitive crisis
on your hands, resist any temptation to act on
impulse before you’re ready.
■ ■ Be strategic. Carefully identify and seek out
potential allies. Share your thoughts with them
and seek their feedback and support.
■ ■ Consider the most effective way to deliver your
opinion. Often, a socratic methodology can be
more effective than table pounding or making
■ ■ Identify the appropriate forum in which to
render your opinion. One-on-one meetings
with a decision-maker may be a more
appropriate setting than a meeting attended by
many others — especially if you’re advising a
significant course change.
Both my partner and I ultimately summoned the
courage to jump to the scaffolding and, thankfully,
make it safely to the ground. But our leadership
should never have placed us in that position to begin
with. Instead, they should have provided us with the
equipment and the training necessary to perform
the job safely. Similarly, when you are seeking a
solution to a difficult problem, strive to create an
environment in which dissenting opinions are welcomed rather than discouraged, and where no one
feels as though they must choose between tolerating
failure and risking, if not life and limb, their status
or their careers to get the job done right. ACC
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