Finding Your Voice

I was recently working with a talented and empathic emerging leader who despite having all the required capability, was holding herself back.

What a loss this withhold was to her team and organisation, not to mention her sense of confidence and self-efficacy.  There was some work to be done here.

Her example prompted me to write this blog.

Are you an emerging leader who is struggling to find your voice?

Do you find it easier to communicate one on one or in small groups but in larger groups, you retreat. You let the vocal ones take charge.

You have the needed knowledge and information, and your contribution will help and yet you hold back.

Or perhaps you want to, but the right words just don’t come.

Where there is a conflict or some courageous conversations to be had, you retreat even more. Avoidance is your default strategy.

Afterward, you think all the perfect responses – especially those one-liners you could have delivered, but they are left smoldering inside.  The moment has gone.

The “lack of voice” can also be linked to confidence issues dating back to early childhood.  Second-guessing is not uncommon.

Some of us grew up with “you are to be seen but not heard” or worse, “you are neither to be seen nor heard!”  What a legacy this leaves.

And yet  find our voices we must.  It is critical in the workplace when we have to influence our various stakeholders.

The cost of not being able to say, express, and influence those we need to are high.

We are also left feeling disempowered, diminished, and not feeling so good about ourselves.

Can you relate to any of this? Has this or something similar happened to you?  For some, not having a voice, can be a default way of being.

If yes, what has helped you find your voice?

Finding your voice can also be difficult if you have introverted preferences; you need time and prefer to think things through before speaking.  Our extroverted colleagues, on the other hand,  think as they talk.

It could be compounded further if you were not encouraged, even punished for speaking up.

Here are some strategies you might like to try:

  • De-bunk the old conditioned messages about “who you are and what you should or shouldn’t say and do.”
  • Connect with what is in your heart and the message that you are ignoring
  • Know your skills, strengths, interests and passion and a commitment to sharing your gifts and contribution
  • Build confidence through small steps of practicing and speaking your truth/perspective, firstly in one-on-one than larger meetings
  • Find ways to get your thoughts heard in meetings even when you are not 100% clear on your decision. For example, a client who used to ask clarifying questions which not only got his voice heard but helped others as well.
  • Read and do courses on being assertive and public speaking
  • Join groups like Toastmasters
  • Find a coach, mentor or committed listener who believes in you so you can talk through scenarios that you find challenging
  • Deliberate practice of skills and techniques and the growth mindset of “I am learning, practicing, and developing myself as I go!”
  • And most of all, back yourself

Kris Carr, a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, puts it aptly, “It is not about finding your voice; it is about giving yourself permission to use your voice.”

Not sharing the best of you not only holds you back but robs others of your worthy contribution.

If you can relate to this, what has worked for you?

P.S. Want to learn more about coaching and leadership?

Check out the World Business and Executive Coach Summit  (WBECS)

Image courtesy of Pixels


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