Finding Your Leadership Voice

Moving into new leadership positions can be both invigorating and paralyzing at the same time. On one hand we are looking forward to sharing the dreams and goals we have been storing within ourselves for a period of time. On the other hand we might feel overwhelmed as to how we will actually disseminate our ideas and vision. We are so focused on revealing our well though-out plans, that we may not take the time or care to present them in the best authentic leadership voice. We know that a message will get lost if it is not communicated in an effective way. We know our presentation is key to how our team receives it. But do you know your leadership voice? Do you even know how to find it?


Remember when you were in middle school and your teacher asked you to write an essay on: Who Am I? What a difficult question to answer; yet what a powerful one in helping us get in touch with all our individual characteristics. As adults this description evolves and might also include the question: Who do I want to be? A great way to begin this process of defining how we want to come across is figuring out what kind of leader we hope to project.

Do you want to lead by listening?

Do you want to lead by using both your ideas and the team’s ideas?

Do you want to create a safe work environment where everyone feels secure to speak up?

Do you want to empower others to take risks even if mistakes are made?

Do you want to cultivate trust and transparency?

Do you want to lead by building sincere and caring work relationships?

Answering these questions can help you establish the fundamentals of your leadership voice. A leader’s tone and non-verbal communication plays an important piece of how others around you will perceive you. But you must always be true to your natural style. If you tend to have a loud voice, that’s fine as long as it has a warm tone, accompanied by good eye contact. If you have a soft voice, that’s fine as long as it has clarity and direction. Get in touch with your body language and hand gestures. Do you know what you look like? Ask people around you how they feel when you talk. Accept that information as a gift.

Finding your own comfortable leadership voice can take time and tweeking. There’s no rush. Try things out. Adjust. Learn. Evolve. There is no right or wrong. Just be the leader you want to be.

How have you found your leadership voice? Did you get input from others? Has it changed over time? 

7 thoughts on “Finding Your Leadership Voice

  1. Great questions to answer, Terri. I believe my leadership voice has evolved. Through reading, interacting, thinking, and writing, I have learned more about myself as well as what may be answers to these questions and others. While certain principles remain steadfast, like trust, integrity, and compassion, how I exhibit or lead by them have improved over time as my voice has gained more clarity.

    Appreciate your leadership calls to finding your voice! Jon

  2. Jon,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and offering your insightful comments. I too believe my leadership voice has evolved through all my interactions and learning. I guess I really wanted to make the point that our voices can change and that is perfectly fine. The knowledge we gain along the way, the more introspective a leader we will become. Looking inside is always a good and helpful process. Thanks again! Terri

  3. I appreciate this post, Terri! I agree, it’s important for every leader to find their authentic leadership voice. What I appreciate most is that instead of a list of “leaders do this – not that”, you’ve encouraged all of us to take the time to figure out who we are and who we want to be. By getting in touch with our own leadership voice, we are then able to flex and meet people where they are without dominating or losing ourselves.

    Thanks, Terri!

  4. Thanks Alli for sharing your thoughtful comments about the importance of an authentic leadership voice. I agree with you that a litany of “to do’s” for leadership are not as helpful as looking inwards and being clear about our individual core values. Also, it is true that once we are comfortable in our own unique “leadership shoes”, we will be more successful in our interactions with others. I continue to be grateful for all your amazing leadership insights!

  5. Terri,
    The idea of self-awareness and discovering our authentic leadership voice are good developmental recommendations. The one word of clarification I would add is that one does not “move into a leadership position,” rather one is moved into a “management position.” Consider the long list of support for Kotter’s recent HBR post where he distinguishes between leadership and management. Leadership can occur within our selves from any position within an organization or social group – it is the act of influence. Leadership is (ideally) part of management, where you are “moved into a position” within an organization. The authentic leadership voice should come from within all of us, regardless of position.

  6. Thanks Vicki for your helpful clarification between management and leadership. I agree that leadership comes from within and that it can take time to find the best leadership voice for each of us. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. Terri

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