Today’s world is powered by the most diverse workforce in history. Businesses, non-profit organizations and institutions of all shapes and sizes are experiencing dramatic change in the composition of their workforce – due to alterations in the economic landscape, technological advances, globalization, and – for the first time - members of five generations working, competing, learning and leading together. The very nature of our work has changed with the continuing rise of the “knowledge worker”. In the 21st century, knowledge now moves at the speed of light, and the challenges to the modern worker are historic.
In addition to posing challenges, these changing demographics present tremendous opportunities for today’s organizations, and companies that grab a hold of their diversity can do much more than simply “accept” or “embrace” it; they can actually leverage it as a competitive advantage.
To do so, today’s leaders must set aside old practices and create new ways to lead, and some of our most valuable lessons around creation of new realities can be derived from the arts.
Creative writing has always intrigued me – and its lessons continue to play into my leadership style. In this essay I will explore the following leadership lessons, internalized through my toils in creative writing, and explain how these learnings can help today’s uniquely challenged leaders create the future, versus simply trying to predict it:
- Lesson 1: Unlock potential through empowerment
- Lesson 2: Move away from linear thinking in employee development
- Lesson 3: Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
- Lesson 4: Find your authentic voice
LESSON 4: FIND YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE
Today’s leaders must stop trying to be like other leaders, they must adopt their own style, just like an author must do. In doing this they must consider their voice as the sum of what they say and what they don’t say.
I learned very early in my experimentations in creative writing that finding your writing voice can be extremely difficult. Many authors write several books before really honing in on their authentic voice.
One thing I notice many do is write like they talk. When they put the pen to the pad they write down all the words they are thinking or would “say” to describe what they are trying to communicate as though they are describing a scene to someone standing next to them.
This sometimes causes authors to miss the beautiful opportunity the medium provides: to be able to create an authentic context and within that context build a story without trying to spell out all the details they can think of at that particular time based on how their talking voice (constrained by timing, pitch and volume) would communicate it.
To get past this writers must understand that their authentic writing voice is not limited to what it is they explicitly communicate or “say”; it is the sum of what they say and what they don’t say.
This concept applies directly to managing today’s workforce and is now pivotally important with the breadth of tools currently available for leaders to deliver and hone their voice (e-mail, chat clients, tools like Yammer, Wikis, All Hands Meetings, 1:1’s, phone calls, etc.).
Corporate leaders must detach their “leadership voice” from their “managerial voice”, “their individual contributor voice” and voices of their peers and build a new voice that takes into account not just their communications, but the areas of absence.