Leadership is all about finding your voice - and understanding the voices of the people you want to inspire.
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Picture yourself in front of your team. You are standing there about to share a vision of the future to get everyone on the same page as you.
There are several possibilities for how this could go. Perhaps you’ll see nothing but blank stares. Or you will see heads nodding, or both. Perhaps you are surprised, after you paint a glorious picture of the future, that nobody seems motivated to take action, or seem to have not even heard you at all. Why is that?
The best leaders have the ability to communicate vision clearly and effectively, while leading people through the necessary changes in a way that allows as many people as possible to feel supported in the process and not squander resources along the way.
Sound impossible? It’s not, but it requires that leaders create an environment where everyone can effectively hear the vision or idea and offer his or her own suggestions.
The 5 Voices Vocabulary
We simplified complicated personality testing processes by creating the 5 Voices to help leaders understand who they are and what it sounds like to be on the other side of their voice.
The 5 Voices is designed to help you multiply healthy leadership practices and principles throughout the whole team or organization. If you practice it, your communication will go to another level with everyone you lead. The 5 Voices are:
Each of us has the ability to speak and understand all of the voices and yet, in our nature, there is always one preferred voice that is easiest for us to speak and understand. We call this our foundational voice.
Some of the other voices come easily to us and are readily recognizable in the way we communicate. However, there are always one or two voices that are far harder for us to value and access.
Not all leaders have the same voice
Creating a common language
The 5 Voices are a codebook that helps us decipher messages from others. Our default is to interpret all communication through our own cypher (or foundational voice), which tends to be wrong a considerable amount of the time.
Similarly, when we speak, we assume everyone has our codebook to interpret what we are trying to communicate. The 5 Voices, then, becomes the shared codebook that allows us to truly interpret and understand what others are trying to share, as well as to be understood ourselves.
Most relational drama and conflict comes from misunderstandings or miscommunication. When a group of people is able to harness the power of the 5 Voices, tension, drama, and frustration will decrease. The 5 Voices are a common leadership language that will increase team alignment and synergy, meaning that everyone is able to relax and bring their best.
Understanding your leadership voice
It is vital for you to first know and understand your own voice before you begin to speculate on what others’ voices might be. Once done, we can confidently and competently help others discover their own voices and then a world of opportunity is created.
The 5 Voices offers a competitive advantage for leaders who are able to harness its power. It doesn’t matter how good your strategy is or how amazing the credentials of the people on your team. If they don’t understand each other’s voice and what they bring at their best, then there will always be misunderstanding, competition, and passive aggression.
What each voice champions
Each foundational voice is responsible for something within the team. The team that understands this becomes more connected and productive. Remember, in a team environment, if you know what each member of your team brings with their particular strength, you can create a space where everyone can actually bring their best.
Nurturers: You are the champions of relationships, values, and people. Fight for the highest possible good in others. That is what you are responsible for.
Guardians: You are the champions of the systems, tradition, money, and resources. Be good stewards and ask the necessary questions.
Creatives: You are the champions of future-oriented ideas and organizational integrity. You are the social conscience of the team. Keep trying to make your ideas understandable.
Connectors: You are the champions of the relational networks, external messaging, and internal collaboration. Confidently promote what you truly believe in.
Pioneers: You are the champion of the strategic vision. You solve problems and make tough decisions. Keep helping the team win and make sure we are alive when we get there.
Leadership comes in many different forms
In the new world, information is largely free. Collaboration and collective problem solving skills are increasingly more important for the success of companies than simply having high IQ employees. The new world has caused teams to need to become very dynamic, more so than at anytime in our history.
Therefore, it is crucial that you relate to the people around you and leverage their skills, expertise, and knowledge for the good of the team.
So, how well do you know your team? Do all the team members know that they are valued and understood? If you were asked to describe your team culture today, how would you answer?
Most dysfunctional teams give little space for this type of recognition that is so crucial for the magic of trust. Pat Lencioni, bestselling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, deals directly with this dysfunction in his book, using a parable of team dynamics. He specifically points out that, “The ultimate test of a great team is results.”
We believe that knowing your voice and the voices of those you lead is the most effective route to creating a great team and the results that come with that team.