8 Nuances of an Effective Leader Voice

20 May 8 Nuances of an Effective Leader Voice



By Nancy E. Parsons

President, CDR Assessment Group, Inc.


A Three-Part Blog Series


Blogger’s comment:  In our executive coaching, assessment and leadership development practice, the number one developmental need for most executives and leaders is to enhance their “Leader Voice.”  This 3-part blog post is to help leaders (and coaches) discern the nature of their gaps and so that they can formulate productive plans to improve.


– Part 1-


8 Nuances of an Effective Leader Voice


Having a clear and inspiring leader voice is a tremendous asset for a leader.  Unfortunately, this is a struggle for many, particularly those who have strong technical and financial backgrounds.  Leaders whose comfort zones and key strengths reside within the sciences and financial aspects of the business are often moderate level communicators at best.


Being on the less communicative side helps them to be great listeners, pay attention to all insights and to be thoughtful, deliberate communicators.  So, frequently, when they speak, it is with profound value and impact.  The downside is that that these noteworthy contributions are typically not injected frequently enough.  This leaves others to fill in the cracks, make leaps, and to assume.  This can create uncertainty and, potentially, strategic and tactical missteps and disconnects for the team and organization.


To improve communications, particularly if you are a technical or financial authority at heart, it is important to measure your starting point.  What are your natural talents and gaps when it comes to communications?  Your review should be sliced down to a nuanced level so that you can clearly identify, with laser focus, where you may need to develop.  Being specific rather than too broad in scope is important to making and sustaining the success needed.


What, precisely, is causing your possible deficiencies or lackluster communications approach?  Is there an area or two you can tweak to make marked improvements or will you need to take a deeper developmental dive?  Is it worth it to you?  What are

the alternatives approaches, if any, for you to consider?    The point is, if you are a raging introvert who would rather have a root canal than give a presentation, perhaps developing this gap is not a productive or worthwhile endeavor for you.


Here are 8 Leader Voice Nuances (characteristics & motivational facets) to consider that impact your success:


1. Comfort Level – in a leadership capacity how is your presentation confidence?

a. Do all presentations or opportunities to chime in at meetings cause you anxiety or give you sweaty palms?

b. Do you tend to over-prepare for planned presentations?

c. Do you dread spontaneous presentation opportunities?

d. Are you more comfortable with some groups rather than others (your peers vs. the Board of Directors?)

e. Do you welcome any opportunity to present to any group?


2. All Eyes On You

a. Do you enjoy the limelight and being the center of attention?

b. Are you one who tends to take control at meetings?

c. Would you prefer to let someone else take center stage and you remain in the background?


3. Natural Charm & Witt

a. When you present or speak, do you enjoy being entertaining?

b. Do you relish telling stories, jokes, and comfortably find ways to put others at ease?

c. When you are at social gatherings, are you known for being a go-to person who leads entertaining or stimulating conversations?

d. Do you tend to be more factual with data and information when you present – just getting to the point without embellishing with stories, banter, etc.?


4. Candor

a. Are you comfortable being frank with stakeholders?

b. Do you have difficulty being direct and clear?

c. Are you able to give candid feedback or views to others without delaying or sugar coating the message?


5. Energy

a. Does engaging with others at meetings energize you?

b. Does face time or meetings with others wear you out after a fairly short time?

c. When you are alone does your energy pick up more than when you are with others?

d. How long can you tolerate being in meetings with people each day and still feel refreshed?


6. Openness

a. Are you an open book when communicating?

b. Do you prefer to be close to the vest and only communicate to others certain information on a need-to-know basis?

c. Would you consider yourself private and do not care to share your deeper thoughts or feelings with colleagues or stakeholders?

d. Is it somewhat hard for others to get to know you and do you keep people at a “safe” distance, especially early on?

e. Do you tend to give too much information at times? Have you ever been told you give too many details and to keep it higher level?

f. Are you brutally honest to the point of sometimes making others uncomfortable or defensive?


7. Executive Presence & Inspirational Approach

a. Are you confident in your approach?  Or, do you continually second guess or criticize yourself inside your head?

b. Does your body language promote leader confidence?

c. Do you project the expected image of an executive in your industry?

d. Are you known for inspiring others and are you viewed as a role model?

e. Are you the realist who focuses on why things won’t work?  Do you tend to be the one looking out for things that are likely to go wrong?

f. Do you pride yourself in being a one-of-a-kind or as a free spirit who marches to your own tune?


8. Joy of Visibility & Attention – Intrinsic Motivator and Driver

a. Do I enjoy and welcome opportunities to have public praise or recognition?  (Or do I find public praise humiliating or distasteful?)

b. Is speaking in front of others something I enjoy?  Or, is public speaking something I abhor or find unpleasant?

c. Is the notion of giving effective presentations and speaking up more something I

i. really would find rewarding? Or,

ii. if truth be known, I would rather not do?  Deep down, I prefer to let someone else do more of the presenting.


Depending on how you respond to each of the questions above will help you to delineate and clarify your gaps, areas of greatest discomfort, and specific opportunities to target.  It may be helpful for you to rate yourself in the above traits so that you can pinpoint and prioritize where you most need to sharpen your capabilities in order to make the most inroads to improve your Leader Voice.  Once you clarify your targeted growth points, it is time to begin to brainstorm and formulate tangible and measurable development plans for improvement.


Another idea that can be useful is that once you think you are close to having your game plan for development finalized, it can also be helpful to hold a stakeholder review session with your team.  You can share a high level of your self-assessment with them (your strengths and gaps), share your tentative ideas for development, and ask them for input.  Do they agree that your action ideas are worthwhile and are the best way to achieve success?  Or, perhaps they have other suggestions to support your development.  Stakeholder feedback can be of great value in many areas of building your leadership capacity and success.



Blogger’s Recommendation:


To maximize and accelerate success, I recommend you:

1) utilize the services of a qualified executive coach or communications coach,

2) take a validated assessment (like the CDR 3-D Suite) to accurately measure the above nuanced character traits, motivational drivers and risks that can impede your effectiveness.

3) Develop a written action plan with clear goals, actions, resources needed, time frames and how success will be measured.  Then, execute your plan!





Don’t miss upcoming:



Part 2 of “Improving Your Leader Voice” Sample ACTION PLANS to improve Your Leader Voice




Part 3 – How Your Inherent Risk Factors Detract from Your Leader Voice & Ideas for Managing or Neutralizing These Risks