Finding Your Voice

Do you speak up with confidence and clarity?


Kat Cole, North America COO and president at FOCUS Brands, discusses why leaders shouldn't be afraid to use their voice. 

“There's a reason that you have a seat at the table," she says. "Someone put you there. Someone advocated for you to be there. You didn't just miraculously show up.”

Watch the video to hear Kat's wisdom on how to find your voice as a leader.

I think the way I found my voice was first remembering that there's a reason I'm there. That helps a lot when you remember there's a reason that you have a seat at the table. Someone put you there. Someone advocated for you to be there. You didn't just miraculously show up. And so I reminded myself a lot that I deserve to be there to the best of my knowledge, and someone believed enough in me for me to be here. And that's a good reminder to keep your voice strong.

The other thing I often thought is you should never confuse having a seat at the table with having a voice. I've seen many people have a seat at the table, have a position of authority, and not speak up. I've been the employee that's watched that, and that is such a shame and such an unfortunate waste of an opportunity. And I used those previous lessons to remind myself that if you're given the seat, it is your duty, your responsibility to speak up and to have a voice.

And so I used that self-talk to remind me to sit up, and show up, and speak up when the time called. And then I mixed that with a good dose of humility, that while there's a reason I'm here, there's also a lot I can learn and I'm never going to learn unless I say or do or ask. That self-talk and those reminders really helped me find my voice if you will. And then over time, asking other leaders that I worked with to give me feedback, and that really helped hone my voice over time.

We've all had those situations where you have a thought in your head and you're not sure if you should say it, or you think about it and someone else says it and you're like, "Oh, that was a really a good thing to say." And I've had countless of those situations occur where I'd hear another contribution and think, "You know, that's something I could add in the future," or, "Wow, that's a great point. I should have asked that." And so really paying attention to the value that others have offered in any situation has helped me reflect and just kind of bring all those things together to speak up.

And I think just generally, whether it was speaking up in an international opening of a restaurant, or leading a board of directors for a non-profit, or standing up in front of a group of franchisees to try to get them to be excited about a new product or initiative, or to vote or get behind something, the more you speak up, the more you get feedback and inputs, and the more comfortable and confident you are in finding your voice. And so I don't think there is one particular instance but rather pretty much every time I'm in a group of people, I'm learning and observing and listening to those that contribute with meaning and add value, and trying to make sure I'm doing the same.

Kat Cole

Kat Cole’s twitter handle reads “Connected-Creative-Conscious-Community building Capitalist, Biz Advisor, MBA, Coffee-loving Chronic Learner” – this not only describes her as a person, it describes the philosophies she applies to busi...

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