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Finding and Expressing Your Voice - Articles Surfing


Each of us has a unique and significant set of traits, abilities, passions, and skills that we offer to the world. This is our voice. When we are expressing our voice we feel significant, valuable, and joyful. We seek and find a sense of meaning in our work and in our lives when we are operating at this level. When we are expressing our voice we are in alignment with who we are. I have met many people in organizations who are doing this. They love their jobs; they are passionate about what they do; they love making a contribution; they are constantly learning and growing; and they feel fulfilled doing their work. When you have an organization where everyone has found their voice, you have one great choir--harmonious and magnificent. You have people supporting one another to express greatness.

Recently I read The Eighth Habit, by Stephen Covey. The eighth habit is: "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." This book is a must read for all of you who see yourselves as leaders. Dr. Covey presents some disturbing statistics that demonstrate that most of us are not in the choir. He presents the following data collected in a survey of 23 thousand U.S. people employed in organizations.

* 37 % have clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve.

* 20 % are enthusiastic about the organization goals.

* 20 % see how their tasks match up with the goals.

* 50 % are happy with what they have accomplished by the end of the week.

* 15 % feel their organization enables them to accomplish goals.

* 17% see open communication in their workplace.

* 10 % believe people are held accountable.

* 20 % trust the organization they work for.

Dr. Covey puts it into perspective when he imagines if a soccer team had these scores:

* Only four of the eleven players would know which goal was theirs.

* Only two of the eleven would care.

* Only two would know which position they play.

* Nine of the players would in some way be competing against their own team.

Covey attributes much of this to the fact that so many people do not find meaning or joy in their work. The answer, he says, is to help each person find their voice. I recommend you read the book. The Eighth Habit, through research and logic, presents a convincing case that the "carrot and stick" method of management is not effective. It is not effective in our workplaces, nor is it effective at home or at school.

Another recent book, Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn, cites numerous research studies that authoritarian and punitive parenting is ineffective. The results of highly controlling parenting are children who are either overly compliant, or overly defiant. It seems that whether we are dealing with children or adults, the use of rewards and punishments creates more problems than it solves. The problem is that controlling people doesn't really teach them. Controlling others doesn't bring forth their best selves. It doesn't help them find their voice. As a result people are not internally motivated.

As I listen to people in various organizations, and as I read the literature from various fields, this is what I find:

* People don't feel respected.

* People don't feel valued.

* People don't feel listened to.

* Many people feel directionless and powerless.

* Many people are focused on external factors such as punishments, rewards, grades, approval, disapproval, criticism, profits, and social recognition rather than internal factors such as personal responsibility, compassion for others, the desire to contribute and serve, and finding/expressing one's voice.

The thought occurs, "Somebody should do something." But who is somebody? Who will lead us? I suggest that it is you. Yes, you the reader of this article, are the leader we have been waiting for. Yes, CEO's, presidents, Executive Directors, and managers need to change, but we are all responsible. We are all responsible for looking within ourselves and finding meaning, finding our voice. It's time to eliminate the excuses, to stop blaming management; to stop blaming your parents; to stop blaming the government and ask the big question: "What can I do?" Whatever the situation is, we need to accept that it is what it is, and now we need to figure out what we can do about it. Blaming managers, blaming employees, and blaming circumstances are a waste of valuable energy and serve as excuses for not taking responsibility.

You can find your voice. You can help others to find theirs. You can realize that a paycheck is a result of doing good work, but it is not the reason you were hired or the reason you are in business. You are there to serve. And when you are serving well, you enjoy your work. And when you serve well, most often you tend to be paid well. And if your organization doesn't pay you well in spite of your incredible service, your track record and your positive energy will get you work somewhere else where you are compensated well. Or, you can utilize your tremendous skill and service orientation to create a lucrative sideline business. If your real dream is doing something else somewhere else, stop waiting, start planning, and do it.

We wait for the right CEO or the right president to come in and "turn this place around" and start treating people with respect. The person who can turn this place around is you. Here is how:

* Notice how you feel at work. The thoughts you think and the emotions you have are what you are giving to employees, managers, customers, and anyone else you meet. Is what you are thinking and feeling helpful to them? If not, are you willing to imagine and become a more positive you?

* Dig deep and find your passion. Don't let anyone talk you out of it.

* Be honest, and compassionate with everyone, especially your boss.

* Ask your manager, or whoever is above you, how you can help make the organization stronger--how you can help him/her create a more successful organization.

* Eliminate "I can't because..." from your vocabulary and focus your energy on creative ways to get it done anyway. This means working smarter--not harder. * Ask your employees and coworkers how you can support them -- and listen to them when they reply.

* Treat each person you meet, whether they are an adult or a child, as a highly respected being. Do your best to understand their needs and concerns.

* Focus your day on helping, on listening, and on being present in the moment.

* Make sure that each word you speak, each action you take, contribute to the success of the people you are with and to the overall success of the organization. That means stop the gossip and stop listening to the gossip. Move beyond complaining to creative action. With your speech and your actions you are either building or destroying. Which do you prefer?

* Stop whining! It is unbecoming of you.

* Help others find their voice. It is the most rewarding thing you will ever do.

* Excuses, blaming, and "reasons" are all ways in which you give away your power. Claim your power by being a possibility thinker. Look at any situation and ask: "What possibilities can I find or create?"

* Refuse to be a victim. Envision what can be and start taking action toward that vision.

* No one you know needs fixing. They just need to learn who they are and find the confidence to be who they are. Help them be successful.

In conclusion, Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, tells us about the most successful companies and why they are great. His comprehensive research shows that each and every company (there were eleven who had achieved greatness) all had what he calls Level Five leaders. Four of the traits exhibited by Level Five Leaders were:

1. They were humble and did not seek personal glory.

2. They were focused and driven to succeed, not for themselves, but for their company.

3. They refused to accept mediocrity, and took creative action.

4. They found successors who were as good or better than they were. These are leaders who have found their voices and helped many others to find theirs. These are leaders who created organizations that were not codependent on them, but who were empowered to succeed on their own.

You are capable of being such a leader if it is your intention. You are a light. When you bring your greatness forth you give others permission to be great too. It is a matter of choice--your choice.

Submitted by:

William Frank Diedrich

William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive coach, and the author of Beyond Blaming: Unleashing Power and Passion in People and Organizations. William offers keynotes and workshops on leadership and moving beyond blaming. William also offers a free online newsletter, Transformation Times. Learn more about William at http://noblaming.com.



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