Engage - Claremont Lincoln University

4 Ways to Find Your Leadership Voice (Even Without the Title!)

For most of my 20s, I did not really care about leadership.

I was not a leader within my organizations, so why would I care?

Yet, the more I began to find my professional footing, the more I wanted to have a voice.

I had developed a sound perspective of my field, and I was a fair, people-oriented professional. I started to wonder: why couldn’t I become a leader?

Unfortunately, at the time, I was the farthest person from holding a leadership title within my organization.

Years later, I have held many leadership roles and know my leadership approach well.

So, how did I find my voice without the title?

Here are the four ways I found my leadership voice and became the leader I wanted to be.

1. Experiment through Practice.

To become a leader, you have to first start seeing yourself as one.

To become a leader, you have to first start seeing yourself as one. Click To Tweet

Here’s some ways you can take your first steps to becoming a leader:

  • If you have a supportive boss or organization, offer to take on a new project at work.
  • If not, volunteer at a nonprofit, community organization, professional/alumni association, or startup.
  • Those with young children might want to consider school associations or youth organizations.

All of these organizations tend to be cash-strapped and in need of manpower.

So, don’t be afraid to ask to lead an initiative, project, or campaign. Doing so will help stretch your leadership muscles, grow your skills, and develop your confidence. 

Tip to becoming a leader: Don't be afraid to ask to lead an initiative or project! Click To Tweet

2. Find Role Models and Mentors.

Aspiring and veteran leaders alike both need role models and mentors.

Role models can be individuals you already know or people you wish you could.

Try to identify why you value their leadership approach. Are they inclusive? Ethical? Charismatic?

By identifying what you value in leaders, you will learn more about your own perspectives on leadership. 

Mentors, on the other hand, should know you and be interested and invested in your goal to develop your leadership. They should, equally, command your respect and interest because they will serve as your teachers and guides throughout your journey.

How to find your leadership voice: find a mentor. Click To Tweet

3. Read. Reflect. Repeat.

The process of reading and reflecting helps to develop, confirm, and challenge your assumptions of leadership.

You can accomplish this in many ways.

  • Read relevant articles online.
  • Rent leadership books from the library.
  • Follow scholar and practitioner blogs. (Perhaps subscribe to ours at the top of your screen?)
  • If looking for a sense of community, consider enrolling in a leadership training or education program.

Regardless of which mode you choose, as long as you are learning and growing your perspective, you are heading in the right direction.

Reading and reflecting helps to develop/confirm/challenge your assumptions of leadership. Click To Tweet

4. Be Resilient and Give Back.

Resiliency is key.

You will unfortunately encounter people who are skeptical of, or disinterested in, your growth as a leader.

Push past naysayers and your insecurities. Do not fear being wrong. Failure is often the best way to learn.

On the flip side, do not be afraid to be right either. You are entitled to own your perspective and what you know.

In becoming a leader, do not fear being wrong. Don't be afraid to be right either. Click To Tweet

Throughout your journey, strive to learn and to teach others what you have learned. There is no better way to grow your leadership voice than encouraging others to develop theirs.

Now, over to you!

Have you had trouble finding your leadership voice?

What are some ways that you’ve been a leader, even if it wasn’t in a traditional leadership role? Tell us in the comments below.

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible is a Teaching Faculty Member of Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University. She has worked within academic and non-profit sectors in five countries, currently serving as an Instructor of Cultural Entrepreneurship at University of Minnesota Duluth. She has held fellowships with the Royal Society of the Arts, Robert Bosch Foundation, and Deusto International Tuning Academy. She is a doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership at Northeastern University, with master's degrees from University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and University of Deusto.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

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Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible

Stephanie Raible is a Teaching Faculty Member of Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University. She has worked within academic and non-profit sectors in five countries, currently serving as an Instructor of Cultural Entrepreneurship at University of Minnesota Duluth. She has held fellowships with the Royal Society of the Arts, Robert Bosch Foundation, and Deusto International Tuning Academy. She is a doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership at Northeastern University, with master's degrees from University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and University of Deusto.