As a community leader you have a voice. You can talk with it, you can sing with it (maybe), and you can influence with it. Whether you are a public servant, elected official, entrepreneur, pastor, educator, coach, civic leader, volunteer, or whatever role you plan in the community, you have been given a voice. Your voice belongs to you and only you. It can define you and determine the level of influence you have. A voice can be the most powerful tool in your leadership toolbox.
Leadership guru John Maxwell defines leadership simply as “influence.” Voices are delivery mechanisms for your influence. The best community leaders use their voices/influence to better others and the world they live in. They use their influence for good. However, others in history have used it for personal gain or to do evil. Individuals who use their voice in the community to better themselves and their own world are not sustainable community leaders. They may achieve temporary influence through their platform, but their voice will fade in time. Which person are you? This week we are going to explore the eight ways our voices can impact our influence:
Silence Cannot Be Heard
If you do not speak, it is impossible to be heard. So many times we regret those times we did not speak. We missed the opportunity. The moment passed us by. We stayed silent. The greatest basketball player of all time or as the young people would say the G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan (sorry LeBron fans, had to rep my generation) once said “you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” This can be applied to the use of our voice as well, just make sure you practice good shot selection when you use it!
Can Be Dominant
Dominant voices can take charge in a crisis. They can stand firm in principle. They can speak up when no one else has the courage to. However, dominant voices can be loud. They can be deafening. They can shut other voices down. They can misrepresent. A dominant voice in a group does not always reflect the overall feel or opinion of the room. It is not always representative. Dominant voices can be viewed as bullies, drivers, and bulls in china shops.
Soft Can Be Loud
Contrary to dominant voices, sometimes those that speak the softest and least frequent have the greatest impact. Have you ever been in the room with that person who does not say much, but when they do everyone listens? The room quiets down. Everyone turns their attention to that person. They make the opportunity to use his/her voice count. They do not waste a word. They do not just talk to hear themselves talk.
Can Be Overused And Lost
We have all done it. You coached the big game, lectured in class too long, or added an extra service. You over did it. You overused your voice and you lost it. When you use your voice too frequently or unsolicited and the moment comes where you need it to be heard, it is not there. It is lost. The opportunity is missed. As a community leader your voice is important. Nurture it, take care of it. Do not lose your voice.
Are Conveyed Through Written Words
Everyone really does have a voice thanks to social media. Sometimes that is good, sometimes it is bad! Keep in mind that just because it is not audible, your written words contribute to your voice. Here is an important perspective to reflect on. Remember that every person that sees your post on a social media platform, you are speaking directly to him/her. We use a personality and behavioral assessment tool with our team at work called the DISC Assessment. This tool taught us something extremely valuable. Communication is more about the way a message is received than how it is delivered. We may think we are delivering a message a certain way, but it is all about how it is received. Even though you post that message to all your followers, you are talking to me directly on my feed, no one else.
Needs To Be Accurate
Some voices come equipped with a filter, some do not. Regardless, they need to be accurate. We live in a world where you are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of messages a day. Emails, texts, social media, television, podcasts, music, and more. They come from every direction. In a world where we are exposed to so many of these messages, it is important to be accurate with our voices when we share those messages. That catchy headline you shared on social media. The one you failed to read in full, research the source, know what the author stands for, or independently fact check. That becomes your voice even though it was not your message.
Many of you may recall the telephone game in elementary school. The teacher would whisper a message to one student, who whispered it to another, and so on. By the time the message got all the way around the room it was no longer accurate. Voices should be accurate.
Lifts Up Or Tears Down
One of the greatest opportunities I have ever been blessed with is coaching youth sports. To be responsible for the development of a child is an awesome responsibility. If you have a competitive streak like I do, sometimes you lose your composure. If you have not, you are lying. Being untruthful is not a good quality of a community leader either! Never once have I regretted using my voice to lift a player up. Every single time I used it to tear one down, I have regretted it. Choose to use your voice to lift others up.
Yours Makes A Difference
In last week’s Blog Martin we explored the lessons we can learn from the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His voice inspired a movement. His voice put change in motion. He used it to make a difference. The world would look a lot different today without his voice.
In conclusion, the world you live in would look different too without your voice. The school, business, club, non-profit, church, community, or whatever world you serve in looks like would be different. Whether your voice is soft, dominant, lost, or you are just finding it, use it to be accurate, lift others up, and make a difference.
Ordinary To Extraordinary Intersection
So how are you using your voice? To make a difference? To build others up or tear them down? Is it accurate? Does it better others and the world you live in?