When Your Leader Can’t or Won’t Hear Your Voice

Many people were raised to think of leading as simply being the boss of a team of people. Leading, however, is not about a title or position; leadership is about influence. The more influence you have with someone, the more likely they will give you permission to lead or influence them. When you acknowledge that leadership is about influence, you also recognize that leadership is not just about the people who report to you in the organization. Leadership becomes a 360-degree proposition where you influence those above you and beside you, as well as those who report to you.

Finding Your Voice

Does your leader seek your voice when making decisions and setting direction? If not, could it be because they question your motive, your lack of knowledge, or they lack trust in you? If any of these are true, perhaps you need to increase your influence with your leader by practicing these leading-up strategies.

First, are you leading yourself well? Are you taking care of the small, daily actions that show your leader and others that you are doing your job exceptionally well?

Second, are you adding to or reducing your leader’s load? Do you look for ways to lighten their load and make their job easier? By the way, doing your job exceptionally well is the first step in accomplishing this.

Third, are you a go-to player? You can become a go-to player by doing things others don’t want to do, making yourself available for additional duties, having and sharing a point of view on what’s going on, and any ideas to improve the outcome.

Fourth, are you growing and learning? Do you have a personal development plan, and are you investing in yourself? When a leader senses your desire to grow and learn, your voice takes on more importance to that leader.

Finally, do you know when to push and when to back off? Knowing when to use your voice is just as important as knowing what to say. You can lose a lot of influence with someone when you are viewed as promoting your agenda, or you continue to push when you’ve made your point, but the leader went in a different direction.

Be Known for Adding Value

To increase influence with your leader or peers on your team, become known as someone who consistently adds value. I always appreciate it when the people on my team bring thoughtful and meaningful input from where they sit in the organization. When you exhibit big picture thinking and not just how a situation affects you personally, you add value and lighten your leader’s load.


Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.