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How to Find Your Voice: A Critical Exercise for Business Leaders

An Exercise Every Business Leader Needs to Do


Most business writing I read is awful—boring, verbose—and absolutely ignores the audience in any way other than to demonstrate how smart the author thinks he or she is.

There are exceptions, of course— those whose voice, personality and humanity jump out at you when you read. So how can you become one of the exceptional leaders whose message resonates with your followers?

What I believe differentiates you as a leader is your voice.

Your voice is the articulation and manifestation of who you are as a person and a manifestation of your character. Voice is how you sound in your speech, your writing, your messaging and framing.

As a consultant, I work with leaders to help them get really clear about what they want, and then we figure out how to “say” it out loud—in person, in text, in actions.

Steps to Refining Your Voice

1. Get a journal and record your thinking. I realize that paper is so old school, but it makes a difference. I can type and write really fast on a computer, but I know I write differently longhand.

2. Set your timer and write for at least 10 minutes on each of the topics below. Write without stopping, editing or censoring.

- WHAT DO YOU WANT?

How do you envision your best version of yourself? Where would you work? What do you want in a particular situation or scenario? In your current role?

- WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?

What is your personal mission or purpose? What gets you excited and enthusiastic?

- WHAT EXPERIENCES OR INCIDENTS HAVE SHAPED YOU?

What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned? How do you know? What would you do again?

- HOW DO YOU MAKE THINGS BETTER?

How do you define success? What is your ultimate value and contribution?

- WHAT NEXT?

Where do you go from here? What’s your next step, decisive action or grand adventure?

3. Put your writing/thinking away for at least a day. Give yourself some distance.

4. Set aside an hour to review and reflect on what you’ve written.

Ask yourself the following:

- What themes seem important?
- What is surprising about what I wrote? Was anything missing that I thought would show up, but didn’t?

5. Then, complete the following:

After my review, I have identified the following three intentions for my own development as a leader:

1.
2.
3.

This writing/thinking exercise helps you get clear about what’s important to you, and for you. Reflecting and reviewing allows you to identify the next, most pertinent intentions to have for yourself. This is the road to congruence.

Image courtesy of David Boyle in DC

 

Libby Wagner, Libby Wagner & Associates, is one of only a handful of published poets regularly welcomed into the boardroom. Author of the new book The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business (Global Professional Publishing), she has been labeled The Influencing Coach™ by her clients.

Her expertise in leadership, strategy, management, and executive team development helps organizations create environments where clarity and increased trust lead to unrivaled results, shaping such Fortune 500 cultures as Boeing, Nike, Philips and Costco. Find out more at http://www.libbywagner.com/


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