3 Keys to finding your leadership voice

Your leadership is more about who you ‘are’ than what you ‘do’.

You need to show up each day the way you want to be perceived – which is simple to say, but difficult to accomplish unless you do your homework and really know yourself – Suzy Monford.

Your leadership voice is heard in many ways beyond what you say. It is mirrored through, for example, the strengths of your own style, how you walk your talk, and your energy and presence. Your intentional and authentic leadership voice is how you bring all of facets of your leadership together in a way that’s true to you.

Integrating your leadership identity, style and voice is an ongoing process of reflection and feedback.

For women, finding their leadership voice often means becoming more assertive: saying what there is to say, giving an opinion which goes against the grain, or speaking up when you feel like you’re being ignored. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive, it’s more about being concise and direct – men generally find this much easier than woman.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Steve Jobs.

Your leadership voice is either working for you or against you

Tina was a well-regarded Senior Manager whose team loved her wit and confidence. In more senior leadership forums though, she remained quiet instead of speaking up, which meant she had to follow someone else’s decision instead of doing what she really want to do. Tina let the chatter in her head get the better of her. She didn’t have the influence she needed to build her brand.

The biggest enemy to your leadership voice is hiding behind others instead of making your own decisions.

Who is the leader you want to become in the next 2-5 years? How do you need to grow and develop to become that version of leader? What is the leadership voice you want to own?

Find your voice as a leader and build your brand with these three keys:

1. Have self-belief

Believe your contribution will be valued by others. Don’t hold back.

2. Use your voice consciously

Studies show we want two things from speakers: credibility and trust. Credibility is all about how you communicate. Do you speak quietly, too fast or too slow (or too much)? How do you phrase your sentences? If you listen to leaders you admire and respect and watch how they project their voice and show their self-assuredness. Notice the tone of their voices and the attitude that is reflected in what they say and how they say it. Oprah Winfrey is a good example.

3. Manage your presence

Evaluate who you are in front of and what they might need from you, so you can tailor you communication. For example, you might share a story that gives some insight, ask questions that encourages others to think more broadly, decide to be directive and share your expectations – each approach will give a different experience of your leadership.

Feedback can help you understand if your presence is working for you or not so you can align your verbal and non-verbal communication in line with the presence you want to have, and flex from your natural style if need be.

People won’t remember what you did but they will remember how you made them feel.

Developing your leadership voice and presence comes with time and experience. What can you pay more attention to this week to have the leadership voice that reflects the leader you are becoming?

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