Finding your voice will make a difference in outcomes

By Gale Mote / Guest Column

I find it interesting, and humbling, when clients, colleagues and potential customers refer to me as a motivational speaker. It was never my intent to be a public speaker nor to make a career of giving inspirational addresses.

Over the years, I believe I have found my voice. Not a singing voice (which I only do in the shower) but a message others respect, value and want to hear.

To be engaged in your work, it is important to be an active participant, to believe you are making a contribution and that your work matters. Your voice plays an important role in the process. Building commitment requires that people’s opinions and ideas are heard, considered and understood.

While it is important to be professional, confident, organized and thoughtful when you speak, I would like to share what I believe has been instrumental for me in developing my voice.

First, there is passion. Authenticity comes from the heart – when you speak in a way that aligns with what matters most – it can’t help but be influential and inspiring. For example, I believe that teamwork is foundational for all business success. High performance organizations create cultures of collaboration, inclusiveness, diversity and camaraderie to create and sustain positive results.

Next is competence. We have too many people these days spouting off about things they really don’t know anything about. I spend a lot of my time with front-line manufacturing management. Prior to starting my own training business, I spent a number of years on the shop floor as a team member and a leader. Not only can I relate to what happens daily in their worlds, I have experience about what works and what doesn’t. Your voice will resonate when people feel the connection and know you truly care about their needs and concerns.

I am a lifelong learner. Earl Nightingale said many years ago that one hour per day of study in your chosen field was all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do. Complacency does not give your voice credibility.

Alignment is necessary for your voice to be considered. It is important that everyone is on the same page. My husband and I may not always agree on the best way to reach a destination but we have consensus on where we are going and why. If you are out in left field or it is obvious you are being a roadblock to where the organization needs to go, your voice will not be as clear.

Find ways to show that you are on board, that you agree with the direction the ship is headed and that your voice is one of support and clarity to make the trip easier and more productive. If you disagree with the goals, then work to find common ground on the mission/vision of the organization and start there. If you can’t find anything about the company you can support, maybe it is time to jump ship.

Lastly, my voice is one of optimism and positivity. If I was a poker player, I would always bet my hand on what’s right, what is good and what is working. I work every day to be mindful of what is happening now because this is my life. I want to experience it fully as it unfolds in front of me. We cannot change the past and no one knows what is going to happen next.

That said, I do live with a spirit of gratitude and belief that tomorrow will be a better day and that we can make positive change happen. When your voice is one of doom, gloom, whining about the past, complaining about the present and pessimistic about tomorrow, people will tune it out.

Once spoken, your actions must support your words. Integrity requires that we have a high “say/do” ratio. Learn to forgive yourself and others when missteps happen. Stay focused and keep your head up. Find your voice and share it with others. Who you are makes a difference.

Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at