I found my leadership voice through every experience that helped me evolve and ultimately, strengthen my leadership voice into what it is today.
I remember being 14 years old and working as a church organist. To play an instrument way larger than you and use it in so many ways to express music that accompanies a choir is a form of leadership. It’s about being in sync with a director to ensure you work in tandem to best serve the choir.
I remember the first time I worked as a teacher in 1991. I was fresh out of college and was teaching high school freshmen and sophomores. I was only a few years older than they were and yet, I was in charge. I found my leadership voice fast because if I didn’t, I would have no command in our classroom.
I worked as a local union co-president for almost ten years. I handled many cases and helped lead two negotiations teams. I found my voice to represent over 160 members of the education association. I remember late night negotiations meetings with the Board of Education and their attorney. I remember dealing with disagreements and disappointments. I was responsible for leading, and those experiences helped shape my leadership voice.
When I worked for the District of Columbia Public Schools, I strengthened my leadership voice in my role as one of the Managers of their Instructional Coaching Program. On that job, I had some of the most difficult conversations I have ever had in my career. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I learned exponentially because of it.
And I have found my voice in all of my personal and professional relationships. While some may call it “leadership,” I truly believe it is about “partnership” and “agreements” to effectively and respectfully lead.
How we “show up” as leaders are all based on our core values.
Our leadership voice reflects those values that are most important to us.
We lead based on our communication style.
When we value integrity, our leadership reflects what integrity means to us.
When we value respectful interactions, our leadership style abundantly reflects how we respect our team, co-workers, and organization.
Furthermore, our leadership voice develops over time. Each interaction is an opportunity for us to speak our leadership voice and determine if that is how we choose to “show up” and lead.
We move into leadership roles and begin building relationships.
We gain technical expertise and may become the “go-to” person.
We advocate for people on our team, and they come to know what we can do for them.
We are leaders.
Every experience is an opportunity for us to lead!
How have you honored your core values and found your leadership voice? Comment below this blog and let me know how you have grown your leadership voice.