Navigating the Silence: A Leader’s Dilemma in Speaking Up

Seema Singh  
Lead HR & Talent Acquisition, Euro Exim Bank

Seema Singh is a distinguished professional with over three decades of experience in the banking industry. As the Global Head of HR & Talent Acquisition at EURO EXIM BANK, she has been instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation and excellence. Her significant contributions as the CHRO & CFO at India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) include being a founding member and establishing a vast interoperable banking infrastructure for the public benefit. Her strategic foresight and acumen have been crucial in developing a system that efficiently and ethically serves millions.

In my career spanning more than thirty years in the dynamic world of banking, I have come to appreciate the delicate balance leaders must strike between speaking up and staying silent. While often challenging, this balance is essential for effectively communicating the message, depending on the situation.


I was involved in establishing two Public Sector Banks in India, Bharatiya Mahila Bank and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), I have witnessed the transformative power of effective communication. Whether it was advocating for the empowerment of women through financial inclusion, promoting digitalisation by training the postmen to render banking services, navigating regulatory landscapes, or fostering a culture of innovation, my learning when to raise my voice and when to maintain silence has been paramount.


One key consideration for leaders when deciding whether to speak up or stay silent is the potential impact of their words. In a world where information travels at lightning speed and perceptions can be shaped in an instant, every statement carries weight. As leaders, we must carefully weigh the consequences of our words, considering how they may be interpreted by different stakeholders and by the broader public.


Moreover, leaders must recognize the power dynamics at play and acknowledge the privilege inherent in their position. Staying silent in the face of injustice or inequality can be interpreted as complicity, perpetuating harmful norms and systems. However, speaking up without considering the context and implications can also do more harm than good. It is a delicate balance between using our platform to amplify our voice and exercising strategic restraint when necessary.

Central to this dilemma is the crucial role of authenticity and integrity in leadership. Leaders must speak up when their values are at stake, even if it means facing discomfort or backlash. However, they must also recognize that silence can sometimes be a powerful tool for reflection, listening, and gathering information before speaking and then acting. It is not about being vocal for the sake of it, but rather about choosing the right moments to lend our voice to meaningful causes, guided by our authentic values and a commitment to ethical conduct.


In my experience, effective leadership is about balancing speaking up and staying silent, guided by a deep sense of purpose and a commitment to ethical conduct. It is about knowing when to lead from the front and when to empower others to take the reins. As leaders, we bear a significant responsibility to use our voices thoughtfully, fully aware that our words have the power to shape narratives, inspire action, and drive positive change.