Developing Your Leadership Voice

Developing your leadership voice – what does this mean? No matter what industry you are in – from consulting to finance to tech and beyond – leadership voice is a topic that concerns every leader at every level. Having an effective leadership voice influences not only your interactions with others, but also the direction of your career. Ready to learn how to develop your leadership voice, increase your influence, and change your perception inside your organization?

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Leadership Voice Definition

Let’s start with the leadership voice definition. Leadership voice is how you, as a leader, communicate to those you are leading. It’s closer to a leadership style than a single definitive trait, and is specific to each individual. Your leadership voice can change depending on context. You can also expect it to change over the course of your career. In short, leadership voice is a tool that influences how people perceive you, respond to you, and work with you. Developing it is critical to becoming an effective employee, manager, and leader.

Five Voices Of Leadership

Harvard Business Review identifies 5 voices of leadership that speak to different roles in leadership.

  1. Voice of character
  2. Voice of context
  3. Voice of clarity
  4. Voice of curiosity
  5. Voice of connection

Let’s go through each of the 5 leadership voices.

  1. Voice of Character

The voice of character is based on who you are and what motivates your interactions with others. It’s based on the principles and values that guide your life.

  1. Voice of Context

The voice of context is used to communicate the bigger picture to others. As you progress in your career, you strengthen your ability to assess situations within their larger context. One example of using a voice of context is sharing vision or strategy before diving into the details of a presentation.

  1. Voice of Clarity

The voice of clarity helps others define what is important. Prioritizing tasks in a world of competing distractions is of the utmost importance. To apply the voice of clarity to your team, team members must be empowered to say “no” to non-essential tasks. Communicating what is essential – and not- then becomes critical.

  1. Voice of Curiosity

The voice of curiosity brings open-mindedness to the table. Good leaders are willing to listen and approach every situation with the mindset that they don’t have the only possible solution. When working with your team, entertain all viewpoints, even if you end up going a different direction.

  1. Voice of Connection

The voice of connection deepens your capacity for connecting with the people you work with. It looks like practicing everyday kindness with colleagues, or making time for small talk even though you’re pressed for time. Especially as you move up the career ladder, it’s important to develop the voice of connection to help you stay connected with the folks you’ve crossed paths with.

The 5 Voices Framework

Different from the HBR voices of leadership, the 5 Voices System is a framework closely related to a personality test. While personality test results can be difficult to remember and communicate, the 5 basic leadership voices proposed in the 5 Voices System are more practical for everyday leadership concerns.

The 5 Voices System proposes that we are not limited to a single leadership voice, but have access to many voices. People often have a dominant voice, and one or more secondary voices.

The 5 Voices:

  1. The Nurturer
  2. The Creative
  3. The Guardian
  4. The Pioneer
  5. The Connector

Click here for more detail on The 5 Voices.

Developing Your Leadership Voice

What is the best strategy for developing your leadership voice? Because leadership voice is linked directly to our ability to influence, it is important that we develop it. It’s not something that we can do in a week or a month. It takes a lifetime of practice and staying open to learning from each experience life throws at us.

If you feel that your leadership voice is weak, or you lack confidence, what should you do? To move towards confidence, first think about a time you felt confident. Second, identify the adjective that you would use to describe how you come across in these scenarios. Third, think about strike-out scenarios or meetings where your leadership voice failed. Describe these situations in detail. Finally, visualize these scenarios and replace the weak leadership voice with your confident voice. What does success look and feel like? This practice can be transformative for your leadership development!


A leadership voice takes time to discover and develop. Fortunately for aspiring and active leaders, the HBR and 5 Voices frameworks provide ways for us to think about our leadership voice. And not only think about, but transform our leadership voice. Just as we have control over our professional leadership style, so choices we make and time we invest in practicing leadership defines our leadership style and voice. We wish you the best as you develop your leadership voice and increase your influence in your organization!

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Filed Under: Consulting skills, Corporate Training