- “What would I say if I knew everyone would agree?”
- “What would I say if I was not afraid?”
If your answer to these questions is different than what you are saying, then it’s time to close the gap. Courage is needed for congruence.
In their book, Own The Room: Discover Your Signature Voice To Master Your Leadership Presence, the authors remind us that folks are drawn to and influenced by those who communicate authentically and connect easily with others.
How many times have you heard or said, “He/she really has a sense of presence.” I’ve used that phrase to describe someone who has gravitas. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?
Leadership Presence is your ability to consistently and clearly articulate what you value while, at the same time, influence and connect with others. This has a broad application in every area of our lives. Presence is often confused with charisma, charm, and certain personality traits. Yet it’s much more than that. And it can be developed.
Real presence is not the clothes you wear, the words you speak, the volume of your voice, or the way you think. These things can contribute to presence, but by themselves they are superficial – they don’t last.
Your presence is determined by the quality of your voice. When it’s at its peak, it’s called your Signature Voice. It’s both authentic and adaptive. In other words, it’s about being true to yourself while at the same time connecting with others. You are able to adapt between these 2 qualities.
It’s called your signature, because like your handwritten signature, it’s recognizably unique — authentically you – who you are at your best.
In a group or in a meeting, are you free to demonstrate your own value and uniqueness – authenticity? Are you able to connect and align with others in that group or meeting – adaptability? Are these in balance?
Knowing when to use them is what contributes to our presence.
The voice for self is our ability to demonstrate our value and distinctiveness. The voice for others is our ability to connect and align with those around us. When these 2 work in concert, we are in the zone, and that’s our signature voice.
The authors developed a tool called the “Presence Quadrants.”
People show up in 1 of 4 ways as the diagram illustrates. It becomes clear to me the dynamics that are happening when I’m not operating from my signature voice.
Along the vertical axis is our voice for self. Along the horizontal axis is our voice for others. The stronger my voice for self, the higher I go on that axis. The stronger my voice for others, the farther out I go on that axis. When we learn to use these 2 voices together, we are then finding our zone – our signature voice.
We’ve all been in the passive voice quadrant, but that’s no place to stay. This is when the voice for yourself and others isn’t clear. Yet sometimes folks get stuck in that quadrant. They are often labeled: passive, wallflower, defensive, passive-aggressive, disengaged. Labels don’t help. But being aware of this can demystify their dilemma and help them get unstuck. They can begin to develop the confidence to feel strongly about a point of view, while at the same time not lose track of other’s concerns.
The more we reside in the upper right hand quadrant, the more ability we have to draw on both voices as needed – and I emphasize as needed. This is true in our families, at work, among our peers, or any audience for that matter.
We gravitate towards a voice preference. A good tennis player will favor a strong forehand or backhand. Yet with awareness and practice she can up her game and become exceptional. How? By developing the weaker return. She is now able to masterfully use the one that will help her win.
And so it is with your signature voice. You are able to use the voice for self and for others in concert, when they are called for.
Why is this important? Because when stress enters the picture, or when conversations get heated, or when the decisions get complex, just like our tennis player, it’s easy to revert back to our comfort zone and ignore the signature zone.
We can slide back into one of the other 3 quadrants and our presence is dulled.
Our signature voice impacts our personal lives and the lives of others. It conveys a presence that is both confident and approachable. And it’s emotionally healthy.
Where is your natural default voice? What can you do to strengthen the less natural one?
We would love to hear your comments 🙂