How Women Can Find Their Leadership Voice—and What It Means for Their Careers

Published: Sep 16, 2019
Modified: Apr 08, 2024

By AMA Staff

For businesswomen, finding your “leadership voice” is part of becoming a leader, and it may have a big impact on your future success. Developing this skill may not be easy, however, says an expert in women’s leadership training. It involves getting past any fear you’re holding onto, and it means getting comfortable with expressing who you are, says Angela Kegler, PhD.

Kegler, an AMA facilitator as well as an author, consultant, expert trainer, and CEO of the Kegler Group, frequently leads the “Voice of Leadership” sessions during the 1-day Women’s Leadership Workshops available through AMA’s Women’s Leadership Center (WLC).

Wanting to find out more, WLC talked with Kegler about what having a leadership voice means for women and how women can develop it.

How do you define your “leadership voice”? Does it have to do with creating loyalty, getting people to like your ideas, getting people to do things, or something else?

Angela Kegler: Your leadership voice is how a leader inspires and influences others through her authentic self. When a leader becomes familiar with her authentic self, she gains confidence and knows how to be heard when she speaks. As women, we must understand our uniqueness in how we communicate and craft our messages to be heard properly, in a compelling way that’s beneficial to our goals.

How does your leadership voice fit into good communication practices?

AK: A woman leader can effectively use her leadership voice to connect with others and influence them in a way that doesn’t require force or coercion. That connection can provide her with champions up, down, and across the organization that will support her during her career.

How much does how you speak—your volume and tone, and your body language—matter, compared with your words, your message?

AK: Leaders must be aware of how they say things as well as what they say. If we want to be heard properly, influence others, and achieve our goals as leaders, then we must be aware and skilled at how we communicate as much as what words we use.

How do you use your leadership voice in situations that are stressful, or during conflict?

AK: Any time we are placed in a heightened emotional state, such as stress and conflict, our emotions can override the thought process, resulting in our authentic leadership voice being jeopardized. However, if we learn to develop our voice and practice our voice, then it will be strong when we need it.

How does a person go from being afraid of public speaking to owning their voice?

AK: Women share a common challenge: Fear! Whether it is fear of failure, fear of not being accepted, or fear of public speaking, we all experience fear at some point in our careers. Training to build your leadership voice helps women to develop courage and conviction that are stronger than the fear holding them back. By exploring what their unique strengths are, the women are able to build upon them and develop skills that transform fear into courage.