Earlier this year I decided it was time to focus on a vision I’ve had for years: owning my own business doing something that made a difference in the lives of others.
This wasn’t a decision made easily or quickly. Whether or not I realized it, I’d been preparing myself for this change for years, with the most concentrated preparation happening the last several months with meaningful focus on my purpose and vision. And guess what? I found it.
Why Leader’s Voice?
I started Leader’s Voice to help professional women move up in their career by owning their voice in a more powerful way. I do this through executive coaching, group coaching, and workshops. There’s a clear need in today’s business world for women to move up and in to leadership positions. Women’s voices are powerful, insightful, and valuable, and do contribute in meaningful ways in business and in life. Yet many women aren’t quite sure what their voice even is or how to be heard. And I can relate.
Voice hasn’t always been my strong suit. Lack of attention as a shy child from a family of seven children. Ignored by my peers as an overweight teen. Appreciated, but rarely respected and listened to in my professional career.
Overcoming each of these challenges has helped shape the person I am today as founder and executive coach of Leader’s Voice.
I identified three traits of my personality that I could own and use to give me my edge: character, confidence, and competence.
Though shy as a child, I was always kind. Kind people are eternal optimists, choosing to love even when it may be difficult. This character trait is as much a part of me as my physical traits and has carried me through life.
I made a choice in my late teen years to overcome my weight issue through physical work and determination. Since then, I’ve taken on marathons, a figure competition, CrossFit, and becoming a yoga instructor. The key to growing my confidence was consistently making and exceeding goals. As a bonus, my physical transformation helped to push my confidence to great heights!
Kicking off my career in home construction seemed a likely fit, as I was raised building homes with my dad, a general contractor. I was optimistic I would excel. What I hadn’t anticipated was the challenges I would face as a female in a male-dominated industry.
Reaching the director status in my corporate job wasn’t easy. My credibility was often questioned. I was mistakenly pegged as the secretary or assistant on the job site. I’d been interrupted, dismissed, and overlooked when I spoke up in meetings.
As a young professional, I struggled with my response to those situations. I hadn’t learned to speak up. I hadn’t yet found my voice.
So I sought a better approach. I used my three strengths to contribute to my team in valuable ways, remained positive despite challenges, and observed and engaged in strong leadership.
The result? I excelled in my career. I myself became a strong, capable, and respected leader. All of that led to my professional climb from manager to senior manager to director.
But I hadn’t peaked yet!
Reaching director status changed the game. I had to develop my Leader Voice in order to be heard, get my ideas out, and be taken seriously.
Voice is at the center of everything that leads to career success. Voice is what helps you ask for things you need and get them; negotiate conflict with positive results for all involved; and say what needs to be said, be heard, and be taken seriously.
Today, it’s my mission to help women develop their unique Leader Voice, and that’s why I’m here. I’m beyond excited to embark on this journey and look forward to fulfilling my mission.
If I could find my voice, I can help women find theirs.
The article is originally published on medium.com by Leyah Valgardson, Executive Coach and Leader’s Voice Strategist and is republished with the author’s permission.