Own The Room (Your Signature Voice) – Book Summary
Great Leaders when entering the meeting room or the hall in which they deliver their speech or presentation often own the room with their presence. But then the next question do we know how to fill in the room with our presence?
How do we hold our voice and also connect with others in the room? Next is in today’s world there are promotions, shifting of responsibilities and if we don’t evolve then we fail in the roles.
At times you must have also received feedback in the workplace like follows,
“ You need to develop a stronger presence “
“ You have a great vision, but you need to increase your follower ship”
“Your performance is admirable, you have deep knowledge, we value you but ……”
You start thinking on how to interpret that “But” and what does it mean and what does it mean. The book tries to solve this mystery
This is the book that helps to find your leadership style with your unique voice that resides with every one of us. The book consists of exercise which is a road map and helps in doing the same
Finding your voice to own the room
Amy and Muriel the author of this book have taken the case studies of clients which help in understanding the leadership style namely John and Terri.
Value proposition ( Skills ) + Influencing & Connecting with others = Signature Voice
Amy and Muriel the authors have mentioned that leadership basically falls in two types of style. There are supporting voices and Driving Voice. To be an effective leader one must balance these two equally.
Driving Voice – Having a voice for self is stronger
Supporting Voice – Voice for others is stronger
Generally, in most cases, people either have a driving voice or a supporting voice. Inclining either side of the voice initially helps but as the seniority grows to perform better we need to balance both voices.
Signature voice means to have a strong voice and for others to know which to use, when. In reality, when we are under stress we tend to lean heavily on either one of the styles.
A person in a supporting voice rarely speaks first or offers an opinion in the meeting, but prefers to listen and observe first. This person is concerned about what others will think and ways to meet other needs. In the process, they are interpreted as people lacking self-confidence.
While in a driving voice it is viewed by others as a person who advocates his agenda or for his own team rather than the whole organization. Interpreted as arrogant and too direct. The first step is to identify the type of leadership style you possess. Next is working towards style in which you lack the key to embrace both voices.
How Do I Get My Signature Voice ?
Leaders realize where on the presence quadrant they slide to and start questioning why their presence is sliding in either of the quadrants concerning the situation.
Own the room book suggest the ACE (Assumption, Communication, Energy) method to find the signature voice.
At times people make wrong assumptions about the job roles and colleagues. We then adopt the wrong communication strategy which further leads to a communication gap. Then our physical presence gives off a wrong energy
More the senior role you enter, the more perception matters. the leader is under the microscope constantly. Your team, superiors, peers, interpret every word and gesture you display.
Therefore is an important interpretation of these actions drives how they respond to you. Hence important to align your intentions with your impact. Ask the question of what is the signature voice for me in this situation, audience, and this role? What would be my personal best be?
Most executives run in problems when their presence is not in alignment with their intentions. This is when the cracks begin to appear.
We need to maintain the voice that is natural to us while increasing the facility to others. Some leaders. A leader makes a point in such a way that it resonates with the audience but also forges a connection with others.
Think about what you can bring on the table? How do you feel when you are in that zone? Think about the time when you made connections with the audience and they trusted you
If you overuse the phrase “ I am Sorry “ it will reinforce your assumptions that you are not a peer and need permission and will cause you to hunch more.
Everyone has a baseline ACE but needs to develop it to achieve the signature voice.
Assumption – Mental Conditioning
Assumptions are the bedrock of our words and actions. Studies have shown that What you think, believe, and focus on affects what you are able to achieve. Assumptions have a seismic effect on the leadership presence.
Examining your beliefs and choosing where to focus your mental energy is a fundamental step to attain the signature voice. At times there are chances that your belief might be betraying you.
To enhance leadership presence the critical assumptions are
- Confidence – What you bring to the table
- Perspective – What hat you wear
- Clarity – What are your values
Once you recognize this assumption you will understand what quadrant of voice you slide and resetting the assumption can get you your signature voice. Fully understand your relationship to authority and your belief about others around you.
Everything you believed along the way has shaped your authority story. You will now have a deeper understanding of how those beliefs affect your presence.
Define your value proposition
The value proposition is the key part of the signature voice, especially in the new roles. Ask yourself the following question
- What are unique strengths and What do I contribute that others don’t?
- What are the scope of my role and my sphere of influence?
- What does success in my role look like
Answering this question will help you build confidence. The book gives an example of misunderstanding the sphere of influence by a character named Alec. Alec was VP of finance and according to him his function was having most knowledge on the topic and others should listen to him.
People failed to acknowledge him because he never made it about them and later peers learned to tune it out.
Most of the time we presume on things and similarly, we presume that we know what our boss or colleagues expect from the role. This at times is a dangerous assumption. Hence it is better to share and discuss with various stakeholders about what actual success looks like. Time to question those assumptions.
Try on Other Hats
Before a meeting or presentation try to understand what your audience cares about most? You cannot create and optimize value until you understand the perspective of the others. Sit down with the function leaders and find out what they care most. Propose a trade where you share what your area is concerned with.
Understand Your Hot Buttons
Find out the things that matter most to you and let go of the notion that you need to convince others of your goals and values. When there are conflicts of ideas then there must be no need for giving up on value you believe but also no need to convince others about your beliefs. When you try to convince others about the belief that is when the conflicts arise.
Recognize the conflict and avoid the emotional charge. In such situations try to focus on what you have in common like goals.
Communication strategies increase our ability to be adaptive. Those with the driving voice slide to advocacy and do not listen and advocacy falls flat in terms of effectiveness. While in the supporting voice personality turns listening but has a hard time putting forth the point on the table.
People don’t use all communication strategies but only use those which they feel comfortable using. Rarely someone shows how to listen and advocate but expect to know it all when they thrust in the senior level.
Framing is the process of understanding your audience first and then drafting your message in such a way that they understand the message you are trying to convey. One can plan casual interaction with the audience so that they can learn about the audience.
Leaders need to provide a similar context to align people and resources around a mission, vision, and execution to get the job done.
Structure to Communication
Now to the forming framing so the structure is formed to your communication, ask the following question
- Who is the audience?
- What tone do you want to strike?
- What outcomes do you hope to achieve from this meeting or presentation?
Having an effective leadership presence requires that you not only provide vision and clear messages but that you make connections with others as well. Listen to them, engage others in the process, and motivate them based on the mission.
3 Levels of listening
There are also levels in learning which we are never taught but are essential to be a good communicator.
Surface-based = You pay attention to the speaker the same way you did in schools and take the words at its face value. You demonstrate that by making eye contact, nodding your head. Leader whose presence slide in driving voice stop here
Issue-based listening = Ability to cut the clutter and being focused on what is being said and what matters. Understanding the key issues in hand. You can get more insight by asking a question like – what do you mean by that? Why do you think that is?
Emotional based Listening = The deepest level of listening, you uncover the true agenda at play. Understand what is keeping the individual up at night. Asking the questions at the emotional level and what they care about the most.
Energy for Owning the room
People make interpretations of leaders through physical presence and energy based on body language. It is estimated that 70-95% of what is heard in conversation is through non-verbal clues.
One needs to address the full spectrum of physical elements that drive presence. To maintain control over your body language you need to manage & identify the physical cues you send to others. The negative interactions create stronger impressions than positive ones.
To balance the energy personnel with driving voice, calming and focusing activity helps them. While people with supporting voice should practice strength-building activities
Tone is Contagious
You should know that your tone affects others. Always try to calibrate your energy to match the situation. Lastly, create a physical ritual to maintain the composure or dial up the energy when needed like Tony Robbins priming before his sessions.
In the book Own the Room, energy is referred to as the dimmer switch of a light, that keeps being adjusted according to situations. When everyone is panicking, you want to dim your energy towards composure. Raise the dial to motivate people to achieve an audacious goal. A leader should maintain proximity and distance, but also connected and feel approachable.
Increasing the Visibility on Organisation
Another aspect of physical conditioning of energy is managing the visibility. For some leaders, it means walking in the halls where the teams are working or video conferencing with the team. Individuals with the supporting voice tend to meet the needs of others but not fulfilling the ultimate vision for their roles.
While people with driving voices tend to focus on senior-level relationships and fail to make themselves visible to the rest of the organization. To increase visibility networking is the key part.
There are 3 types of network
- Operational – People in your immediate functions, you need to complete assigned tasks.
- Personal – Making connecting with outside your organization who can help you in personal development
- Strategic – People outside your control who will enable you to reach key organizational goals.
A leader should dedicate time to establish all the three types of the network which will help in different situations
Finding a signature voice for yourself is a skill that needs the practice to perfect it. The earlier you practice the faster results you will get in your senior roles. There will be situations where you will slide down to your default voice but with practice, your signature voice will become a default voice.
To end the book summary, I would say return the ACE model when a new situation arises that may cause your presence to slide. Align, motivate, and inspire your organisation and lead with a purpose.
- Signature Voice is having the skill to identify when to use driving voice and supporting voice as per the situation
- Always try to understand the audience so that your message so that framing will help in effectively conveying the message.
- An effective leader maintains proximity distance along with a team feeling comfortable to approach and connect.
Book recommended for
Own the room book is for working professionals who are in senior roles and managing large teams or individual who are transitioning to senior positions.
About the Author
Amy Jen Su
She is a co-founder and managing partner of Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. She is the author of the forthcoming book, The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self Every Day.
Muriel Maignan Wilkins
Muriel is a co-founder and managing partner of Paravis Partners, a boutique executive coaching and leadership development firm.