Your Voice Will Define You

There are moments throughout our lives and careers that we are cautious about using our voice. Every day, every hour, we choose whether to speak up or not. We weigh the pros and cons. We consider the audience and the environment. We contemplate whether our idea or answer is the right one. We wonder if our opinion will be accepted or scoffed at. If there's even an inkling that our opinion may not be accepted or our answer may not be right, we tend to stay silent.


And yet, voice is imperative to lead.


In an article titled, “The Social Consequences of Voice: An Examination of Voice Type and Gender on Status and Subsequent Leader Emergence”, we learn that simply by speaking up, by using our voice, we are seen as more “competent, socially skilled and leader-like.” The short lesson here? Open your mouth. Speak up. Use your voice. This very act will help you show up as the valuable leader that you are.


Can you think of a single leader who didn’t use their voice? We should, of course, always lead by example, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. If you don’t use your voice, you cannot lead. And to lead is to create movement. And creating movement defines you. 

It all comes back to voice. 


Diane Hardy said, “It only takes one voice at the right pitch to start an avalanche.” 


Beyond her powerful words bowing to the importance of voice, have you ever considered this truth? 


Your voice will define you. 


If the act of simply speaking up will help us be seen as more competent, socially skilled, and leader-like, it's clear we must speak to be seen as a leader.


How can we use our voice most effectively in our leadership? Here are three ways I’ve found to be most helpful. 


First, build trust by speaking empathetically and encouragingly.


The foundation of all good leaders is trust. When we have it, we lead; when we don't, we won't. All good leaders must build trust first and foremost. One of the easiest ways we can do so is by helping others feel safe and seen. A quick route to safe and seen is by speaking empathetically, genuinely investing in the other on a human to human level and creating a space where they too feel safe to speak, to be heard and to perform well.


Leaders who get this part right are quickly seen as competent and valuable and have a loyal following. These very leaders are also the ones who speak up. It’s through the words you speak to each individual that helps them feel seen and safe. 


Second, speak in promotive ways.


We all know the pessimists around the office. You may avoid them. Why? Because they bring you and everyone around you down. They are rarely seen as leader-like, even if they speak up and do so often. To be a valuable leader, one must not only speak up but speak in a promotive way. Promotive can be interpreted 2-fold: speak in a positive, optimistic way that encourages those around you, and when you do speak, promote your ideas and others ideas, don't preach.


Third, practice.


There are a few of us who are natural-born leaders. Most will need experience and time to find their leadership cadence and to refine and hone skills. We all need the practice to get our leader voice just right. Is the tone, pace, quality, and pitch where it should be? Are you speaking the correct words for your audience? Have you spent time working on the fundamental and foundational parts of leadership? All of these things considered and practiced will help you show up and speak up as the leader you wish to be, ultimately landing you the raise or promotion. 


Leadership is intimately tied to voice. When we choose to use our voice and do so with empathy, encouragement, and intentional practice, our leader's voice will ring true. Our voice will define us, and in a way we can be proud of. For, no matter what your title or role is, voice is imperative to lead. So, speak up! 


Connect with me for more thoughts on leadership, voice and synergy.