There has been much written about story telling and leadership...how 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- One's voice takes time to develop...my 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.