6 Strategies for Developing Your Unique Leadership Voice

Image credit Jason Ralston

Image credit Jason Ralston

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by award-winning radio journalist Bob Edwards. He delivered a candid, intriguing presentation on the art of interviewing at the National Press Club. Between audio clips and stories about the making of those interviews, Edwards answered several questions. However, it was his answer to my question surprised me most.

When asked about his biggest lesson in the field, Edwards didn't talk about how to ensure balance in a story, or question preparation strategy, or even mastering new topics. He focused on a leadership challenge -- finding his own distinctive voice. His hardest habit to break was abandoning the voice of a journalist he'd long admired, and creating that unique sound, style and cadence we've all come to recognize through his more than 30 years in radio. 

This is relevant not only to broadcasters, but to those of us who seek to carve out a place in the world -- journalists and freelancers, researchers, performers, consultants and so on. Discovering and wielding our authentic voices -- through the flood of others' voices -- is a skill that's key to growth and personal development. It's that voice that guides decisions and reflects values. It's that unique voice that inspires and engenders confidence, trust and respect in those with whom we interact.

And yet, setting on that path to a unique authentic voice can be difficult to accomplish. What are some strategies to harness your unique voice?

  1. Determine your own definitions of progress and success

  2. Learn from the hard-won lessons of those who came before you

  3. Approach your work and life with questions before settling on the answers

  4. Be present

  5. Evaluate information with a critical eye and healthy skepticism

  6. Listen with respect and attention to others' points of view

This approach will lead to crafting your own informed perspective while fostering effective and constructive communication with those around you. It's respectful of difference and assists in identifying -- for yourself and others -- where that difference of viewpoint lies. And, this framework allows you to discover, as well as rediscover, your authentic leadership voice and style.