Leadership Done Differently: Getting Real About Honoring the Voice of Others

Emma Gonzalez.


I was inspired by this woman – a student; a survivor of the incredible Parkland school shooting, who recently let her experience tell us what we need to know as she addressed her community about the unfolding events. I don’t share her experience; and there are very few people who do. She has a community of students, teachers and parents who have unique perspective known only by a small but too large extension of people across the country. So what would it take to be open to her voice?


LeadershipEmma Gonzalez – she offered her voice.


And in her voice, we find something most of us could never have so effectively shared. It’s impossible for most of us to know the lens with which she sees and experiences the events of the day and days followed that have moved her so compellingly and courageously. To see and know her for her humanness gives us a chance to be open to what we do not know.  The same is true for her peers who also offer their voices in a swell of intention – not in demand of attention, but in demand of action. They are ready to make a difference here – to a problem that no previous solution has yet overcome, even a little. What would prevent us from inviting these students in – all the way?


The student survivors – invite them in to co-create an experiment for change.


As leaders, one of the most important things we do is honor the voice of others. What may that mean? While important, we’re not just talking “listening” sessions here; but co-creating sessions – invite them in to co-create an experiment for change. To truly honor one’s voice, we need to accept they have an offer that we do not. We need to be willing to set our own perceived “expertness” aside and be open to knowing that, with another, we can be creative in ways beyond what we may be ourselves.


These students invite leaders everywhere to reflect and rethink our own biases in how we get things done. Consider these as ways to be more open and ready to co-create experiments for newness and change:


  1. Recognize our world is perpetually dynamic; what may have formed our opinions and expertise in the past may or may not be relevant today – the context is continually shifting in a time of fluid change. 
  2. Set aside agendas, perceived expectations and loyalties that prevent you from being clear-minded and honestly open to hearing something new.
  3. Be open to leading with a curious mindset – questions bring possibilities; answers quiet them.
  4. Be willing to experiment to learn.  Developing experiments instead of solutions lets us situate in continuous learning and adapting, a more helpful way to engage with our perpetually dynamic world. 


Leader reflections…


By saying “yes” to honoring the voice of others, what are you saying “no” to?


What will you do today to be more open to the humanness of others?

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