Friday, November 6, 2015

leadership and voice

Last night I attended Bocon!, a drama by Lisa Loomer and put on by Concordia's theater department.  One of the great lines in the play was "If you don't have a voice, you can't tell your story."  As I quickly wrote out that line on my program, I was struck by how much it applied to those in leadership roles...and the importance of both voice and story to accomplish the task of leadership.

There has been much written about story telling and great stories inspire others; how stories allow people to place themselves wherever they need to be within that story; how stories help others to understand vision; and how stories connect people to one another in multiple ways.  I am a fan of telling stories - I can say more about Concordia with a good story than I can with multiple facts and figures.  But what about voice?  What is it about one's voice that makes the story even possible? As I think about that concept, several thoughts come to mind:
  1. One's voice is a part of one's history...what I have experienced throughout my life shapes what I think and believe, thus causing my voice to be one way or another.
  2. One's voice is a result of one's belief...the deeper my convictions, the stronger my voice.  So I better know what I believe and why I believe that way.
  3. One's voice takes time to voice has changed over time (including much more than moving from soprano to baritone as a young teenager).  The more I learn and the more I experience the more different my voice becomes.
  4. One's voice develops through dedicated practice...the more I think - and the more I speak - allows me to use my voice more effectively.  Malcom Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule might apply here...and that practice needs to be done in an environment where I can get feedback on how I am using my voice.
  5. One's voice can get stronger or might diminish with age...depending on the circumstances I have faced and the feedback or encouragement I have received, my voice will either get stronger or weaker.  Recognizing that (and using it to my advantage) can make all the difference.
  6. One's voice should always have a consistent message...what is it that I want people to know, believe, and act on?  Does my voice support that?  And do they hear it on a consistent basis?
  7. One's voice is shaped by what he or she reads and thinks about...the phrase "garbage in - garbage out" might apply here as I think about what I spend my time with, especially when it comes to what I read.  There is a reason Shakespeare is still around after almost 500 years.
Understanding one's voice can lead to better story telling...and my encouragement is that as leaders we pay attention to both.

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