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Vocal and Executive Presence: How It Can Help HR Leaders Improve Psychological Safety In The Workplace

Psychological Safety in the workplace

Redundancy. Burnout. Work-Life Imbalance. Cost Of Living Crisis...

These are the subjects my coaching clients are increasingly discussing during coaching sessions in these turbulent times.

There's a lot of emotion out there right now, and most of it is far from positive.

Which makes me wonder how HR professionals are coping.

Chatting with them reminds me how amazingly tough, committed, and resourceful they are. How often they are unnoticed, under-appreciated, and so focused on getting coaching for others they don't have time for it themselves.

And how fostering psychological safety is currently a burning issue for them.

"Our people crave a workplace where they can freely express themselves, and be their true, authentic selves, without fear of judgement, discrimination or retaliation", they say.

Free expression is hard at the best of times, but even harder when there's so much fear around. Which there is. And everyone is feeling it.

Enter the art and science of vocal and executive presence.

By developing their vocal and executive presence HR leaders can:

  • Reduce fear in themselves, their team and their organisation, making the conversations they really don't want to have - the difficult ones - a touch easier.

  • Elevate their personal brand (have you ever contemplated the role your voice plays in shaping your reputation)?

  • Foster an inclusive culture where every voice is respected, enhancing psychological safety, organisational well-being and performance.

  • Inspire trust in leadership, boosting employee resilience and a more cohesive and supportive workplace.

  • Be the calming and stabilising force their people so desperately need during uncertain times.

But what is vocal and executive presence and how can HR leaders convey it?


Demystifying Vocal and Executive Presence

The foundation of effective leadership, vocal and executive presence is the non-verbal language that speaks volumes. It elevates an individual from just being in the room to being memorable, allowing them to captivate an audience with an unseen aura and a strong, warm voice that command attention and exude an unmistakable approachable authority. Whether walking into a board room or one-to-one redundancy conversation it's the impact that lingers long after the words are long forgotten.

Business Woman walking into a meeting

For HR Leaders, Chief People Officers, and Talent Development Professionals, understanding - and helping their people understand - these forms of presence is not just insightful — it's indispensable.

- Defining Vocal Presence

Vocal presence, at its core, is all about reflecting inner confidence and conviction through the human voice. It's about speaking in a way that causes others to listen, capturing and holding their attention and effortlessly guiding them to understand and connect with our message.

A well-honed vocal presence can make a real difference to careers, negotiations, and relationships.

"Vocal presence is the ability to speak in a way that makes others want to listen."

- Susan Room.

- Decoding Executive Presence

Executive presence, the kind that grabs attention when you speak, is a combination of personal style, communication abilities and physical confidence that conveys authority and inspires others. It's lighter than gravitas, (a weighty Latin word with unhelpful male overtones), more attainable than charisma. 

Both types of presence are particularly important when it comes to getting stakeholders on board, shaping company culture, and smoothly handling difficult situations and conversations with confidence and authority. Neither is a birth right. They can be learned.

Cultivating Vocal and Executive Presence in Critical HR Scenarios

- Delivering Difficult Messages with Impact

As an HR leader, you will often find yourself in the difficult position of delivering bad news or leading challenging conversations. Having a strong vocal and executive presence can help you navigate these scenarios with greater finesse and confidence. By projecting confidence, warmth, and authority through your voice and body language, you can ease some of the tension and make the message easier to receive. This can help maintain psychological safety in the workplace and foster a culture of open communication, even during turbulent times.

- Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Key elements of vocal presence involve recognizing, addressing, and reducing vocal bias in yourself and others, and establishing connections through your voice. By understanding different communication styles and adapting your own, you can create an inclusive environment where every voice is valued and heard. This not only fosters psychological safety but also enhances organisational performance by utilising the diverse perspectives and talents of your team.

- Leading with Confidence and Resilience

Executive presence involves exuding confidence, even in stressful situations. As an HR leader, you may face difficult decisions or resistance from stakeholders. By developing a strong vocal presence, you can inspire trust in your leadership and be a calming influence during uncertain times. This can help your team build resilience and navigate turbulence with confidence and stability.


Ready to Develop Your Vocal and Executive Presence as an HR Leader?

By developing your vocal and executive presence, you can become an even more effective and influential leader, fostering psychological safety, promoting inclusivity, and inspiring trust in your teams and organisations.

If you're an HR Leader, Chief People Officer, or Talent Development Professional, start your journey by booking my Vocal and Executive Presence Workshop for you and your team. Delivered virtually, it’s 60 or 90 minutes long (you choose) and will give your people powerful insights and a toolkit they can use straightway.

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