My Voice

Leaders: Born or Made?

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  • Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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  • Paul Larsen

“Leaders are born, not made” goes the cliché. But, according to this “Forbes” magazine study, only about 10 to 15 percent of leaders are naturally-inclined to be leaders. They maintain that while there are also about 10 to 15 percent of people who will never be leaders as much as they may try, the vast majority–that other 70 to 80 percent–can be trained, (or coached), to be effective leaders. I agree.

The article, by Erika Anderson, advises that the best thing you can do to become an effective leader is to become more self-aware. This means learning to listen more effectively, being as accurate and neutral as possible in your communications and inviting feedback, even when we suspect the comments may not all be positive.

Finding Your VOICE as a Leader

While I agree with the article, I feel that to really maximize your potential as a leader, you need to find your individual V-O-I-C-E. Finding your VOICE as a leader does not mean “talking louder.” I define it as:

  • Living your Values. Finding your VOICE as a leader in life enables you to discover what really matters in your life, that is, discovering your Values. This doesn’t just mean your work Values, but the things that really matter to you in all aspects of your life: your passions, your talents, your strengths, you family, your faith and/or your community. Living your Values also means understanding why these things are important, finding a good balance and integrating your Values with your career and your life.
  • Creating your Outcomes. Creating your Outcomes is the next important step of finding your VOICE. Creating Outcomes that are critical for your success includes setting your vision, establishing your goals, creating a team, measuring your results and building the roadmap…so the resulting journey is one worth taking for yourself, for your organization and your community. The “New York Daily News” calls creating specific, manageable goals essential to being a good leader.
  • Exercising your Influence. Finding your VOICE as a leader requires the mature development and flexing of your Influence muscle. This means that once you have identified your values and your desired outcomes, you need to determine how to Influence and align yourself and your community so that you maximize your opportunities and results. Recognizing and developing your areas of Influence is key to being successful in finding and using your leadership VOICE.
  • Demonstrating your Courage. Finding your VOICE as a leader means not always taking the easy way out. To be an effective leader, you need to have the Courage to move forward, to take a risk and to step out of your comfort zone, no matter how small a step that may be. This includes having the Courage to try on new behaviors, the Courage to speak up (even when you know your views will be unpopular), the Courage to change directions when needed, the Courage to stand alone in a crowd, the Courage to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and the Courage to believe in yourself.
  • Conveying your lasting Expression. Good leaders leave something positive behind where they “leave a room.” Finding your VOICE as a leader embodies crafting your overall Expression of who you are as a leader to yourself and to your community. One key aspect of conveying your lasting Expression is becoming a stellar communicator. “Inc.” magazine calls being a good communicator one of the top seven traits of effective leaders. Other elements of conveying your lasting Expression include creating followers, contributing your talents and capabilities, and building and re-inventing your personal “brand” so that you remain renewed and refreshed. Your Expression is the culmination of finding, creating and using your VOICE to make a difference in your career and in your life.

Most leaders are created, not born. Even those with a natural leadership ability can hone their innate skills to become an even more successful leader within their organization…and in their life.

Values. Outcomes. Influence. Courage. Expression. Finding your VOICE as a leader is your start!

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