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Finding Your Leadership Voice

During my tenure working for large professional organizations, I realized this key principle: every employee is unique. We learn differently, think differently, and lead differently. One way of doing things is not necessarily better, or more efficient than another. Yet, we often find ourselves trying to fit a mold, one carved before us.

This is where we may feel like we are wearing a mask at work. The problem is that humans are very good at determining when someone isn’t genuine. When something feels fake, we don’t trust it. Trust is essential in any relationship, including those in the workplace.

The one-size-fits-all leadership is no longer relevant. So, it’s time to build trust by finding your unique leadership voice.

What do I Mean by Leadership Voice?

Your leadership voice represents who you are as a person and is guided by your core values. In a more literal sense, it is how you guide and communicate with others at work. This means being transparent with your team regarding their roles, strategy, and the larger picture or doing what is right, if that is one of your core values.

How Do I Develop My Leadership Voice?

You may find that being authentic at work is intimidating, as many of my clients do. There are a couple of ways I encourage managers to develop their leadership voice:

1. Re-define Authenticity

The first question you must answer is: what does authenticity mean to you? Take a look at your current leadership style. Do you bring the best version of yourself to work each day? What parts of yourself do you hold back? Consider how you currently lead and how you wish you could lead, and the image you project vs the image you have in your mind.

2. Determine Your Core Values

Being authentic and finding your leadership voice relies on identifying your core values. Core values can range from positivity to reliability, creativity to efficiency. They are what you believe to be important qualities and should not differ between your personal and professional life.

Start by creating a list of 10 values that drive you (there are multiple resources online to get you started) and rank them in order of importance.

3. Take Action

Once you know your core values, it’s time to put those values to work. You can decide how you want to show up and lead the team based on your drivers. I encourage managers to write down the actions they will take and develop operational principles with the entire team.

These principles will help you connect to your team and communicate your decisions.

4. Identify Strengths

Identify the natural strengths that both you and your team members bring to the group. This goes hand-in-hand with recognizing that we are all different. Once you know what your strengths are, you can better utilize them to lead and participate.

5. Communication

Communication is key for all leaders, and especially important if you want to be authentic. Make note of your body language when speaking with others to ensure your actions are conveying the same message as your words. Working on your communication style will allow for greater transparency and better collaboration.

How Do You Know If You’re on the Right Path?

As you adjust to a new leadership style, it is natural to feel uneasy. This is why we communicate our operational principles up front with the team. When the team knows what to expect from you and what is expected from them, the transition will be smoother. Still, you will want to check in to address any concerns regularly.

1. Seek Feedback & Take Suggestions

Acknowledging that you are part of a team means collaborating on everything, including your leadership voice. Yes, you may be a leader, but that doesn’t mean your style works for everyone. Be open to feedback from those you work closest with and consider suggestions for improvement.

2. Honesty with Self & Others

When receiving tough feedback, be honest with yourself. It’s natural to prefer positive feedback over criticism, but you should use both to learn and adjust. Honesty, with yourself, and others, allows for growth and greater transparency in the group.

3. Continue to Develop and Grow

There is always room for continuous improvement. With feedback, suggestions, and honesty, you can decide where to grow. Don’t expect your leadership voice to be perfect, but being authentic will get you a long way with your team.

Finding your leadership voice through coaching

Finding your leadership voice is an evolving process. You need to spend the time defining values, putting them into action, and incorporating feedback into your leadership style. Focus on authenticity and defining your core values. Both of these will help unpack who you want to be as a leader. Identify your strengths and develop your communication skills. Together, these action steps will put you on the path to expressing your authentic self.

Is this something that you struggle with and aren’t sure where to begin? If so, I’m here to help. Contact me to schedule a call and let’s develop a plan to help you develop your leadership voice together!


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