What does leadership sound like? Is it fast-paced or slow? Monotonous or full of melody? Does it sound low like the voice of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos or does it speak softly and carry a big stick like President Theodore Roosevelt?

Research on leadership communication by Liz Wiseman shows great leaders spend most of their time listening and asking deep questions. But how do these C-suiters sound when they open their mouths? And more importantly, what should you sound like when you are opening yours?

If you ever wondered how you should sound as a leader, you are not alone. I had some of the same questions. Then at the end of March, I attended the Voice of Success seminar in downtown Los Angeles by Roger Love. Love is considered the top vocal coach in America and is the bestselling author of Set Your Voice Free. He has helped people like Gwen Stefani and John Mayer sing better and motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and Brendon Burchard speak better.

After attending his presentation and reading his book, I learned the four characteristics you need to sound like a leader. Love says you need to control your voice to sound happy, grateful, passionate, and confident.


Why would you want to sound happy as a leader? Most of us don’t imagine leaders as happy. Serious, yes. Happy, rarely. But sounding happy is an important part of your leadership voice.

According to Love, happy is magnetic. We are attracted to happy. People like happy. Happy feeds your own confidence as a leader and radiates confidence to the people who follow. It signals to others that life is great. And isn’t that a message you want to send to the people following you?

So how do you sound happy? Love says happiness has increased volume, wide-ranging melody, and a brisk pace. It is not slow paced, soft speaking, or monotonous. Your voice swells with life and abundance.


Good leaders make others feel important. They are grateful to their team. When you sound grateful, you make people feel valued. And they will respect you.

To convey gratefulness, Love says to speak softer and slower. Slightly draw out your syllables. Gracious people don’t rush their words. And neither do they shout. Grateful people lower their volume to show respect for the other person.


When you show passion for your ideas, cause, or product, you excite others to follow. People jump on your bandwagon. There is no need to bully or coerce.

To sound passionate, Love says to keep your volume consistent and stay higher in your range. The volume doesn’t vary like when you are happy. It’s solid, strong, and consistent, just like your passion. You sound more thoughtful.

Passion also doesn’t descend at the end of sentences. You stay higher, which keeps people excited. You have some vocal variety but no big jumps like when you are happy.


Confidence is essential to leading. Confidence shows you believe in yourself and your message. If you aren’t confident, people will either waver when things get tough or not get on board in the first place.

Confidence uses some of the same sounds as passionate and grateful. It sounds long and strong. You have solid volume. You don’t need to raise your voice or yell. And you extend the syllables of your words to the longest possible length, which tells your listener every word and thought matters.

If you practice these four qualities, you will sound more like a leader in the right situations. You won’t feel the need to lower your voice like Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos or carry a big stick like Theodore Roosevelt. Instead, you will have people willingly follow you because you sound happy, grateful, passionate, and confident.