The Five Voices in Your Company and How to Lead Them

If you’ve ever tried to use Myers Briggs in your organization, you know the problem with it. It’s just too complicated. Most people can’t remember which of the 16 personality types they are, or what difference it would make even if they could.

My guest this week has a solution for that. Steve Cockrum is an expert on organizational leadership, personality, emotional intelligence, and communication. He’s the co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global leadership consultancy. And he’s also the author of several books including 5 Voices: How to Connect Effectively with Everyone You Lead, which we talked about on the podcast.

Here’s what Steve did that’s both brilliant and simple. He synthesized and simplified the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types into 5. He gave them more common-sensical names, and created practical tools to leverage that knowledge in any group.

I’ve summarized below the 5 Voices, as he calls them, as well as one of his tools for using that knowledge. But our conversation is much richer. Click play above to hear that.

The Five Voices
Most people speak all five, but one is our main voice. Here’s a short summary:

Nurturer – (43% of the population, and 70% female) These people are the champions of relationships, harmony, and values. They are self-giving, the relational oil inside teams, they delight in the success of others, and they intuit how people will react to change. They ‘get’ people. If their voice can be heard, things will go better.

Creator – (9%) They are the champions of future ideation, innovation, and social conscience. They are visionaries. They see opportunities (and dangers) first.

Guardian – (30%) They are the champions of truth, due diligence, and stewardship of resources. They guard the past while looking toward the future. They help us save time and money because they are skeptical of ill-thought-out ideas.

Connector – (11%) They are champions of relational networks, internal and external communication, and marketing. These are the storytellers.

Pioneer – (7%) These are the champions of strategic vision. They love to align people and systems to achieve goals. They are competitive and love to win. They tend to be the boss in the commercial sector.

Steve explained that the first three groups (Nurturers, Creators and Guardians, which make up 82% of the workforce) rarely feel heard, valued, or appreciated. And they don’t feel like they’re able to bring their best into a team discussion, often because they don’t feel comfortable disagreeing with others on the team.

The last two groups (Connectors and Pioneers) are loud voices and tend to speak first in meetings, are heard more, and assume silence is agreement.

Recommendation
Once you know who is who on your team, Steve recommends trying these rules of engagement, so that everyone can be heard and leveraged the best. In a group discussion, make sure:

  • Nurturers go first
    • Because they don’t like to disagree with what’s already been said
    • But they represent 43% of the people in the organization.
    • Promise not to critique them right off the bad
  • Creators go next
    • Let them think outside the box and take risk
    • Don’t judge them right off
    • Ask them clarifying questions
  • Guardians go 3rd
    • Encourage them to ask the difficult questions and show us where we’re making mistakes
    • Let them do due diligence
  • Connectors go 4th
    • Sell it for all it’s worth, and make us cry if you need to
    • When we challenge, don’t take it personally
  • Pioneers go last
    • Listen first while everyone else talks, even though that’s probably very hard for you
    • Be careful with your critique, so that it’s not too sharp

If you want to learn more about the Five Voices, go to 5voices.com\leadwithastory. There you’ll find a host of free resources, including a free assessment and free workshop.

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Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author of the books Lead with a StoryParenting with a Story, and Sell with a Story.

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