How to turn up your leadership voice

Have you ever wanted to put yourself forward for something, and ended up keeping quiet? Or have you wanted to share what you really thought about something but choose not to. We’ve all done that. Me included.

From a career perspective, IQ and competence will only get you so far. There’s a certain point where incremental gains in competence provide a diminishing return on performance. At this point, leaders need to transition from being ‘self-focused’ (my results that make me look good) to becoming ‘others-focused’ (working with and through others to achieve shared results). What is the key for a successful transition? Leaders who build influence through their leadership voice.

Your leadership voice is heard in many ways beyond your tone and what you say. It is mirrored through, for example, the strengths in your style, your energy and presence.

Having a strong leadership voice means trying different approaches to different situations and people, to get decisions made. 

Effective leaders build trust with others by showing who they really are. In other words, you need to develop your leadership voice from the inside out.

Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.

Leaders without a strong leadership voice feel shut down or shut out and don’t take responsibility for having the voice they desire. They:

  • don’t give the feedback
  • don’t have the tough conversations
  • don’t voice their views and ideas freely
  • follow the decisions of others instead of doing what they really want to do
  • second guess actions or steps they take, so they remain with the status quo or don’t take enough action early enough.

These leaders let the chatter in their head get the better of them. Why? Because their self-doubt reigns. This costs everyone.

You can’t be ‘others focused’ when the voice in your head (that makes it about ‘you’) is the loudest one you’re hearing.

Self-doubt and self-confidence are intrinsically linked. We all feel self-doubt sometimes – that’s normal. At the heart of self-doubt is fear – that we’ll, for example, get it wrong, be rejected, and God forbid, be judged as being less than we want others to believe we are. Fear then results in over-thinking and over-analysing, which in turn creates drama, overwhelm and, in many cases, inaction.

The cost of self-doubt is your leadership voice

Your self-assurance is your biggest asset to help you evolve your leadership voice—and career—over time. Your self-assurance is your relationship with you. If you are getting in your own way, what is this costing your leadership?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Over the next 2-5 years, what kind of leader do I want to become?
  • How do I need to grow and develop to become that version of leader?
  • What is the leadership voice I want to own?

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