Finding your voice is an important leadership challenge. It is also a rewarding journey.

Whether it is what you say, or how you say it, finding one’s voice is supremely important. It is remarkable how many executives move through their careers without giving this important element of their Personal Positioning Statement (PPS) much thought. In life, consistently presenting the right message with the right tone is critical to the success of virtually every major initiative an executive will undertake in his or her career.

That is why I am such a fan of Personal Positioning Statements, Personal Communications Plans and career journaling. The PPS is essential because it provides the foundation for a personal strategic plan – where do you want to go, how will you get there and what do you have to do to achieve that goal? The personal communications plan is how you will communicate with employees, colleagues and stakeholders on major initiatives. Projects often fail because of poor communication: either a key constituency was overlooked or the message did not ring true with the majority of stakeholders.

You cannot shoot from the hip. In this challenging new economy, you must be precise and you must deliver the results through effective execution. Journaling, one of my favorite subjects, is vital as a tool to help you improve your future performance by rewinding the film of events in your mind and analyzing your actions and the results. To improve on performance, Tiger Woods hits golf balls, violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman repeatedly practices major works that he will perform in concert, and actors repeatedly rehearse a scene to achieve the right tempo, tone or nuance of the script. They are all trying to fine-tune their performances to attain peak results.

But what do executives do? How do they improve their leadership skills? Most understand who they are and where they want to go. They are focused on delivering results, developing business relationships and communicating with board members, their subordinates, and employees to ensure that their performances are consistent with their Personal Positioning Statements.

The top performing executives use the career journal to do the real hard work of personal performance improvement – to reflect critically on what went right, what went wrong and what could have been improved. Working in solitude, this form of directed practice is one of the hardest things anyone can do because our memory of events is frequently shaped by convenient recollections that make us feel better when things go wrong. That is why formal journaling is so important to help you find your right voice. Forcing yourself to critically analyze setbacks and successes will help you break through that barrier to understand the real issues that will lead to better performance, and will connect you in a more meaningful way with who you are and what you want to be. In other words, your Personal Positioning Statement.

It is all about finding your voice.