The executive voice

The executive voice

Organisations are often a reflection of their leaders’ personality. As a leader, your actions and/or inactions have an influence on your employees. Body language such as posture, tone, demeanor, etc. may be read by individuals differently and at different occasions. However, there is one element of leadership that employees hearken to: THE VOICE. What managers say or do not say goes a long way to affect the moods and attitudes of employees. Managers can hardly say anything in passing or in jest because of the importance their employees attach to their voice.

For most employees, anything a leader says may be regarded as being instructive. Employees would often say: “Boss said this and that” even when it’s not related to any staunch decision. As a leader, your voice carries the entire organisation both in and out of the formal settings, and can be referred to by employees as a point of instructive reference. In this view, a leader’s voice becomes a very powerful tool for conviction and change. Passing on information in every form requires skill.

It is quite unfortunate that among the qualities that are ticked in the selection of leaders, oratory is usually put on the back burners. Skills such as great business acumen and management have been key to these choices. The title of a book: “What got you here won’t get you there”, strikes a great chord when it comes to this discussion. Top level officials require ‘voice’ and speech coaching!

The speech coach

Getting a speech coach requires investing time and financial commitment. It requires leaders to unlearn patterns of speech, and harness the power of influencing their subordinates at both formal and informal levels of engagements. As Impact Coaches, one thing we realise is that most leaders are quick to discount speech as an innate quality and may easily perceive this as an automatic package to leadership.

However, history tells us that most prominent men and women including the likes of the Queen of England (Elizabeth II), Winston Churchill, Warren Buffet, Joel Osteen, among several notable personalities had speech coaches. In Ghana, as well as in other parts of Africa, it is important that we begin to embrace the concept of voice and speech coaching as a crucial component of leadership.

In our career as speech and impact coaches, we have also been able to engage some Executives, Politicians, Marketers and Entrepreneurs, and developed various speaking styles and sterling presentations to help advance their careers.

The importance of having speech coaches ranges from alleviating stage fright, building confidence and precision of thought, imbibing the facets of public speaking into practical approaches, developing an individualistic style that matches a leader’s personality and having someone monitor, direct, and give constructive feedback on your public and private speaking engagements.

Empathetic leadership

The possibility of making your very least speech come out as a production is key to helping leaders get ready and deliver using their voice, actions, and thoughts to generate powerful moments of connection and sincerity. As Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. The use of empathy, storytelling and metaphors should never be lost from a leader.

Inspiring leadership

In times of hardship, where people look up to leaders for answers, a sure and certain voice may be found in a resolute and hopeful leader (with pragmatic solutions). Here, the tone of delivery of leaders matters a lot to their followers, and as Winston Churchill succinctly put it: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions”. Employees will go the extra lengths for a leader who has great conviction in where he is heading and expresses the same in both character and in speech.

No matter how compelling and clear the vision or mission is or how brilliant the tactics and strategy, without the ‘leader’s executive voice’, there is no execution.

The ability to get other members of the team to buy-in the vision, garner trust and inspire loyalty isn’t a skill you have to be born with. You can now learn to develop your executive voice and inspire others when giving presentations, addresses, speeches and in other verbal communications. It is important that leaders learn practical techniques to shape their leadership messages, hone an authentic leadership voice and engage in powerful conversations that achieve results.

Even in sports, the difference between great and good Managers is that the great Manager constantly gives great speeches that speak to the heart and soul of their team even when all is lost.

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