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Five steps to developing your leadership voice

B. Lynn Gordon for Progressive Cattleman Published on 24 April 2018

As a young child, I remember my dad saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” It was his way of telling me and my siblings or friends to tone it down, as we were most likely getting on his nerves with loud, high-pitched sounds of laughter and playing.

However, to serve in the role of a successful leader, your voice is as important as being seen. With leadership comes many opportunities to communicate, but it’s how you cultivate your ability to communicate with your voice over time that can impact your effectiveness as a leader. What you say and how, why and when you say it can and will influence the situation.

Five steps to a leadership voice:

Find your voice

With practice, you become more comfortable in finding your leadership voice. Developing ways to express your leadership philosophy and articulating it, cements to those around you the values you represent. Leaders who know who they are, what they represent, what motivates their actions and can share this in an authentic and genuine manner, are leaders followers listen to, seek out and are motivated by.

Serving in leadership roles, whether in business or leading a team or organization, communicating your values – and not the values of someone else you have read about in a leadership book or someone you are trying to be – will allow you to develop and gain confidence in your leadership voice.

Present a consistent message

“Leaders are the ones who can clearly communicate their vision, and the ones who can clearly communicate their vision are the ones who can lead,” says popular leadership author Simon Sinek. How clearly you articulate your vision and your day-to-day messages will open the doors of opportunity between how you influence your followers and how your followers stay focused on the end goal.

Unclear and inconsistent messages can create cracks in the foundation of your team and result in confusion, low morale and lack of engagement. Presenting a clear message doesn’t mean you answer every question the same, but rather the overall message is transparent, understandable and relatable.

Leaders are leaders because they are visionary, and the challenge consistently exists for them to be able to refine their vision in a way that can clearly be communicated to empower others.

Voice of the team

As a leader, it’s not just your voice you are expressing; you also represent the voice of your followers. You may be serving as president or chairman of a committee, thus representing others. In this instance, you’re most effective when you focus less on yourself and more on the team or organization.

Do you have the opportunity to meet with the team regularly? Do you serve in a leadership role representing many layers of an organization or industry?

Depending on the situation, your focus is to be the voice. To be this voice means finding ways to reach out and build relationships with those you represent.

This is easily overlooked in our busy lifestyle, but generating and cultivating relationships provides you with more accurate representation and perspective. Being the voice of the team also adds significance to your ability to connect the dots from a discussion, meeting or strategic planning session and being able to articulate back what this means for individuals, employees or the organization as a whole.

Professionalism pays off

As a leader, you are called on to serve with utmost professionalism. You will be challenged and find yourself in challenging situations. For example, leading your organization, ranching business or committee through change or controversial issues requires an executive voice.

Handling uncomfortable situations with a level head, composure and with the end goal in mind is why you are in the leadership role. With leadership comes responsibility and, when emotions spin out of control, is when you will be challenged to lead under pressure and bring emotions back to facts.

Know when to speak

Some of the most effective leaders are those who say the least or speak last. Why is this? Because they understand the value of listening and have practiced the skill of keeping their opinions from influencing the group until others have spoken.

This creates an environment across your team or group that their voices can and will be heard. They feel a satisfaction of contributing to the discussion.

There is also great value to you as the leader in doing so – you get to hear what everyone is thinking, valuing or wanting to express. Waiting till the right moment to speak shows you respect your followers and provides them with the chance to grow and be empowered. In the end, the discussion is more productive, and you can still contribute your opinion, you just do so at the right time.

I encourage you to strive to develop your leadership voice in each and every situation you experience. Consider these situations opportunities to be the voice of a leader.  end mark

B. Lynn Gordon

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