I believe most of us, if not all, grown-ups are advocates. There will be something in life or work that we feel so strongly about that we believe deserve a change either for personal benefit (i.e. to yourself or family) or organization’s benefit. I’m more interested with the latter. Whenever we have a strong opinion of something, we voice out, we advocate. I wanted to use the word influence, but advocate is stronger because you do it publicly, either to all organization or just to a focus group or relevant people whom you think have the authority to make the changes. At work, we mostly do it in a meeting, townhall or through informal conversations.
However, advocating requires a lot of energy – time and effort, unless of course you are the senior management. You may advocate, but your concerns or resolutions may not be taken into account. They hear you, they are willing to hear you, but that’s it. Unless of course you get the whole village to voice out with you.
But when do you draw the line? When do you stop advocating? What if the things you advocate questions the leadership of a certain people? Sometimes you have to let it go and allow others to do their work, eventhough you think there’s a better way of doing it. That’s one school of thought.
Another school of thought is, you continue advocating, from stepping into until walking and immersing into the forest of fire. But you’ve got to have a strong conviction to do so. You have to understand the consequences of doing it, the risk and opportunity cost. I guess it’s always safer to just advocate. If it seems fine to most people, why rock the boat? I think that sets the difference apart between a leader and non-leader, i.e. follower. A real leader will rock the boat because he believes in his conviction and intuition. Most importantly, he believes in himself and is not afraid to be wrong and make mistakes. The worst case if you just keep quiet and keep all your opinion to yourself or you ramble at the wrong people/group.