No matter our position, it often feels easier and safer to blend in rather than stand out. We seek the camouflage of being like others. There is a place for followership, but not if it’s at the expense of your voice and impact. Respecting fear more than our voice cheats the world out of the great contributions we are capable of making.
What does it mean to own your voice?
Your voice is the convergence of your strengths, passions, experience, and expertise into a message for you to share with the world. Last month I shared my insights on thought leadership. If you don't share it with anybody, what good does it do? Your thought leadership combined with your voice is where you make the impact. Owning your voice moves your thought leadership into the public sphere where you stand out and stand up for what you believe.
Your voice matters. You can share it at a corporate meeting table, no matter what level you are in the environment. If you are somebody who is contributing valuable things for that corporation, you're going to rise in the ranks as people recognize that you're a voice that merits attention. Or you may own your voice in your business when you have an idea of how to do something, move forward or serve your customers. You can contribute your voice on a nonprofit board, government hearing, neighborhood coffee klatch or your kid's soccer game. All of that is part of owning your voice.
Your voice, when not shared, is hiding your light under a bushel. Owning your voice is critical to your success because it helps you stand out in the marketplace. Leaders, specifically, need to own their voice in order to impact change, bring their best and most important work to the world and be as profitable as possible in their business. Owning your voice translates to knowing who you serve and who you should be working with.
Owning your voice also increases your satisfaction at work and benefits you personally. It helps you say yes to the right things and no to the things that are not the best opportunities for you. This all comes back to my concept of return on energy. Your voice comes out of those things that energize you. If you're sharing it, you create a virtuous circle of putting your voice into the world, being energized by it and returning to share your voice more. It’s a constant refreshing of the energy and your personal role in a company. If you have the right people on your team, it will also motivate them because they value, follow and contribute to that voice.
This process of owning your voice is not so simple for many of us. Following the steps below will help you find your voice and have the confidence to share it with the world.
- Know yourself, own your strengths and focus your voice. You have to understand your voice before you can own it. That encompasses knowing yourself, what you stand for and what you believe. Then you can focus your voice around those things in your industry.
- Find the right space and the right people to serve. You want to attract the people who value your voice and benefit from your thought leadership. This doesn't mean refusing to work with individuals who are not there yet, because they may need to know more before they can appreciate your voice and understand why they should be working with you. In other cases, however, you have to be okay with not being loved by everyone.
- Share your voice to contribute and make an impact. Find a positive way to deliver your message and communicate the change you believe should happen in the world. Acknowledge a problem and offer your solution. Understand that having the courage to put your voice out there is critical for those people who need that solution. When that audience responds, you’ll gain the confidence to continue to share your voice and make a bigger impact.
It’s not going to be perfect every time you put your voice out there. That’s ok, because you’re either going to win or learn from the experience. It was Nelson Mandela who said, “I never lose, I either win or learn.” And who doesn’t want to learn? That’s the attitude to embrace in order to build confidence and continue putting yourself, and your voice, out there.
How do you manage your message so you can be heard? How do you leverage your influence? My process helps people get really clear on owning their voice. We start with an “assess” step to find your voice because it’s so important to be consistent with your vision and what you want to contribute. Only then can you put it out there in the way that your chosen audience can hear it, whether that is existing or potential business clients or your employer. To explore coaching with me, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching discovery consultation.