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Building your personal narrative as a leader is key. We share some of the frameworks we use in helping leaders define their voice authentically. We also look at how your authentic voice can push boundaries and bring real change.

In the social impact space, a leader’s authenticity shapes both organisational culture and public perception. An authentic voice that resonates, motivates, and aligns stakeholders to a shared vision is essential for leaders whose missions are deeply rooted in values and community needs. 

Getting vulnerable

Understanding, developing, and refining a personal narrative can be challenging for leaders. It requires introspection and a willingness to confront personal vulnerabilities and past experiences that have shaped their views and actions. Recognising these key moments is the first step towards developing a narrative that truly reflects one’s authentic self. Authenticity in leadership bridges the gap between aspirations and actual impact, leading to trust, transparency, and building stronger connections. I am constantly inspired by leaders like Mackenzie Scott, whose frank and unique voice and clear and purposeful philanthropy are redefining the sector, and leaders like Dr. Raj Panjabi, the Co-Founder and former CEO of Last Mile Health, who demonstrates how a focused, value-driven narrative can profoundly influence global health initiatives.

Pushing boundaries

A leader’s voice can push the boundaries beyond what an organisation can speak to, bringing a face to an entity and adding a new layer to what can be achieved. For example, friend and partner Kennedy Odede epitomises the power of an authentic voice in leadership. Through his playful, provocative, and conversational narrative, he tackles complex issues in a way an entity could not, such as addressing urbanisation and climate change and directly challenging top-down power structures suffocating international development efforts. Odede’s approach not only brings a human face to these issues but also adds a new layer to what can be achieved by his organisation.

Narrative development frameworks

When coaching individuals through this transformative process, whether C-Suite executives or community activists, I draw upon proven frameworks that enhance narrative development and guide them through the following steps:

  1. Personal narrative exploration: We start by exploring your past experiences, the pivotal moments that have shaped you, your current motivations, future goals and the legacy you want to leave behind
  2. Vision development: Through a set of frameworks, we begin to devise a long-term vision for your leadership and impact
  3. Public narrative crafting: Together, we craft your Story of Self, Story of Us, and Story of Now to connect your personal journey with the collective action you want to see in the world
  4. Tone and message refinement: We refine your tone of voice to ensure it aligns with your values and resonates with your intended audience
  5. Action planning and application: By identifying key actions and the continuous improvements needed, we create an action plan for you to maintain momentum and achieve your goals
  6. Brand brief: We close out by shaping your personal brand and voice guidelines so that you and your content team can communicate with confidence

These tools are instrumental in refining leaders’ voices, ensuring their narratives not only resonate with their audiences but also drive meaningful action. Yet, the true test of a personal narrative’s effectiveness is its consistent application—from internal communications and team meetings to external engagements and public speeches. 

Your personal narrative is a powerful tool for leadership and change. Reflecting on your story and aligning it with actionable frameworks can significantly elevate your impact. As you consider refining your narrative, think about how this could transform not only your leadership but also the communities and causes you serve. For leaders looking to deepen their impact, embracing these narrative techniques offers a path to not just lead but inspire.

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