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  • Kathleen Phelps

Leading with Our Voice

When we own our Voice, we own our power.” – Arthur Samuel Joseph

You may be surprised that one of my first posts is about ‘voice’.  I used to assume that the ‘people at the top’ were willing to take bold stances and had mastered speaking their truth.  And yet, that is often not the case.

I recently worked with a Partner at a global investment management firm.  Marc had been asked to lead a major change management effort that would bring departments from across the firm into one centralized function.  He was well known for his relentless drive for results, no-nonsense street smarts, and razor sharp wit.  He was funny, full of energy, and definitely not a wallflower!

When we met to review what he’d accomplished over the nine months that we’d worked together he said that one of the things he’d take with him moving forward was his ‘voice.’  What?

The cool thing about Marc, was that as he led this major org change – and hit it out of the park, despite the reservations of many internal skeptics, he became aware of his growing influence across the firm.  It was humbling, and he saw it as an opportunity.

He recognized that he has the opportunity to be a voice for the people in the company who don’t have visibility to the CEO.  He has the opportunity to proactively shape the culture of the organization, and to create an inclusive and compelling vision for the future of the firm.

Marc was known for being an outspoken guy, and for sometimes speaking without a filter!  Which left me wondering.  If someone like Marc could become more deliberate and aware of how and when to use his voice, what might be possible for the rest of us?

What are the small and subtle ways that we play it safe?  What are we not saying that would make a difference for ourselves and others?  Are you even aware of what it could be?

I’m know that I am hard wired to please people.  I like to feel that I fit in, and I have generally been pretty good at doing so in the places I’ve cared about.  But I’ve also learned that pleasing can undermine the impact of serving.  Though it can feel good in the moment, I am more concerned about making a lasting impact.

To truly serve the powerful leaders I partner with, I sometimes have to ask the hard questions, and I have to say what no one else is wiling to say.  I remind myself why I am going to say what I am going to say… and then I say it.  Do they always love it?  No.  Do they sometimes hate it?  Yes.  Do they know it was said in service to their highest good?  They always do.

There is power in voicing what others are unwilling or unable to express.

What is the one thing you are not saying to your team, your boss, or your spouse that could make all the difference?  And what will it take for you to say it?


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