Having and expressing educated opinions on important matters is vital to getting ahead professionally.Lucy Gilson, UConn management professor and academic director of the Geno Auriemma Leadership Conference, says becoming an expert in something is a surefire way to find your voice.
“There’s a lot of research with regard to leadership that indicates CEOs and top executives are people who have been functional specialists, who have come up through a discipline,” she says. “And the people who have been sort of generalists – often women – tend not to reach these top levels, but rather stay in mid-level managerial jobs.
“When it comes to finding your voice, the key piece is, figure out what you’re good at and what you want to be known for, and to specialize in that. Become the expert that people go to,” Gilson says. “If you find something that you’re passionate about, and you can become an expert in that, you’re much more likely to be able to talk knowledgeably and to do well.”
Being informed – whether in a boardroom or a dining room discussion – will garner respect.
“You’re more likely to succeed, and to not only know the background and materials, but also to have your own opinions,” Gilson says. “When you don’t really know that much about something, your opinion is probably someone else’s opinion.
“You want your voice to be a mixture of your opinion and the facts, the history, the research on the topic, what has been written, what has been said about it.”
written by Julie Stagis