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Book Summary: 5 Voices – How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead

Once you’ve learned about the “5 Voices,” you’ll wonder how you ever led a team without Kubicek and Cockram’s insight. With their advice, you’ll find that relating to your employees, friends, and family members is suddenly exponentially easier. In this book summary, you’ll gain a clear understanding of each of the communication archetypes, as well as tips on how to make them shine.

A practical guide to bringing out the best in yourself and everyone you manage.

READ THIS BOOK SUMMARY IF YOU:

  • Want a peek into the psychology of everyone around you
  • Want to make your meetings and conversations run more smoothly
  • Are looking for a way to take your leadership to the next level

Introduction

The internet is full of personality tests. Some people spend years obsessing over their Myers-Briggs types or enneagram numbers. But as fascinating as these tests can be, they don’t always give you actionable insight into who you are.

Book Summary: 5 Voices - How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead

The 5 Voices system is all about practicality. Few people really understand what their communication style is, and they rarely know how to relate to people who are different. In 5 Voices, Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram break down people’s communication styles into five different archetypes: the Nurturer, the Creative, the Guardian, the Connector, and the Pioneer. Every person has access to all five voices, but each person has one voice that is their most natural starting point — that is their foundational voice.

Once you understand your voice, you’ll get crucial insight into how you operate in meetings and in your relationships. You’ll see what your strengths are and how to lean into them, as well as what traps you are likely to fall into. You’ll also learn how to make the members of your team shine and keep them from being a disruptive force.

But before you can really take advantage of those strategies, you need to know which communication type you are and how to identify the people around you. Here is a summary of the five styles:

  • Nurturer: These caretakers make up 43% of the population.
  • Creative: Their head may be in the clouds, but their ideas are invaluable. At only 9% of the population, they’re quite rare.
  • Guardian: Steady and reliable, these folks keep your company from spinning out of control. Thankfully, they make up a hefty 30% of the population.
  • Connector: These are people-people. Think Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. You love them, but you better keep them on track. They make up 11% of the population.
  • Pioneer: Natural leaders — but also natural destroyers. Mercifully, they’re the rarest group, at just 7% of the population.

Nurturer

Nurturers are caretakers. They’re the friends who will drop their plans when they sense you’re in need. They’re the teachers who become mentors and stay after school to make sure you feel supported. Nurturers don’t just preach their values — they really live by them. Nurturers can be incredible leaders because they are so inclusive. But they’re equally valued as members of a team. They bring the essential quality of cohesion, acting as the glue that creates synergies between the other voices.

Are you constantly asking yourself if a situation is treating everyone fairly? Do you often find yourself supporting those you feel are being left out? When you sense that someone doesn’t value you, do you find yourself pulling away from them instead of challenging them? These are all Nurturer qualities, and they have their strengths and weaknesses. If your foundational voice is Nurturing, then you’ll want to know how to counteract some of the difficulties that come with this communication style.

Nurturers are so focused on harmony that they can be hypersensitive to change or anything that could upset the balance of their lives. This means they can be riskaverse and, at times, immature about it. Nurturers are also very sensitive, and if they feel they’re under attack, they will retreat rather than stand their ground. This doesn’t mean they won’t put up a fight of any kind, but it will be passiveaggressive. Often some of the best ideas come from the Nurturers in the group, but their lack of assertiveness can make it easy for louder voices to drown the Nurturers out. If you’re managing a team, try not to let this happen.

If you’re a Nurturer yourself, remember a few key pieces of advice:

  • It’s common for you not to recognize the value you bring to a team, even though it’s obvious to everyone else. You have every reason to believe in yourself.
  • You’re allowed to challenge other people’s views. You have good values, so if you sense someone is wrong, your input is probably needed.
  • When people choose you to lead them, it is because they believe in you.
  • Don’t be too resistant to change. Instead, attempt to lead the change, so you can make sure that everyone is taken care of.

Creative

The Creative voice is rare and often misunderstood. Only 9% of the population has it as its foundational voice. But the Creative’s insights are invaluable, so you must learn to recognize anyone on your team that might be a Creative and make space for their ideas. As leaders, Creatives can be groundbreaking. Their mind is often on the future, and this means they have vision. A Creative rarely thinks of anything as impossible — sometimes because they’re not considering the logistics, but other times because they’re certain they’ll have the ingenuity to tackle any obstacle. Creatives are constantly focused on making improvements, and they think about the future more often than the other voices.

However, Creatives often run into the problem of not being understood. Because they think in a unique way, they must be particularly gifted at expressing their abstract thinking in order for it to be well-received. Sometimes, CEOs who are Creatives make this common mistake: They understand their ideas but fail to make everyone else in the room understand them. Then, they get confused about why their vision isn’t appreciated. This inability to be understood can drive a Creative mad.

Imagine you’re a Creative with an idea and you express it in a meeting, only to be met with a flat response. You saw your vision so clearly and brightly in your mind, but your audience is staring back at you blankly. This might convince you that your idea wasn’t as valuable as you first thought. But then, a week later, someone else comes in with a version of your idea that is better articulated. Everyone loves it, and you can’t wrap your head around why someone else is getting credit for something you came up with. You grow resentful and think you’re not being valued, when in truth, you’re just being misunderstood.

If you’re in charge of managing a Creative, get used to asking them to explain their ideas more than once. Often, they won’t get it right on the first try, but you can trust that behind those ramblings, there’s probably a very good idea. Let them know you care enough to help them get it out.

If you are a Creative, consider these bits of advice:

  • Even if something isn’t 100% the way you envisioned it, learn to take joy in completing a project. If you get too frustrated by the smallest flaws, you’ll bring down your team’s motivation.
  • Know that criticism from your team members is not an attack on you personally but an attempt to refine or better understand your idea.
  • You don’t always have to be right.
  • Learn to value the voices of those around you who are thinking more about logistics.

Guardian

Guardians can be the bedrock of a team and are, in some ways, the counterpart of the Nurturer. Guardians make up 30% of the population, and 70% of them are men. Like Nurturers, they are resistant to change, but this is less because they desire harmony and more because they want to keep everything steady and on course. Without Guardians on your team, you’ll probably wind up with no money.

Do you often find yourself thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” when a Creative starts dreaming about how to make minor improvements? Do you feel like you need to be absolutely convinced of the need to make changes before you support them? Do you look skeptical when something appears too good to be true? Do you sometimes think your input is seen as negative rather than pragmatic? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re probably a Guardian.

Guardians aren’t pessimists. They just think practically, and sometimes that means they must play devil’s advocate when other voices are trying to propose their more original ideas. Guardians are at their best when they get to be the ones in the room asking the tough questions. They will be relentless about making sure a proposal is actually going to work, and they won’t be swayed by charisma. Their devotion to practicality will also shine when they’re doing their individual tasks. They diligently hit their deadlines, and their work is thorough. A Guardian will never over-promise or under-deliver.

If you’re managing a Guardian, let them function as the stabilizer in the room, but be on guard for some of their more immature moments. Sometimes, a Guardian will be stubborn, digging in their heels when they don’t see the point of something, even if the rest of the room agrees. They may also be too harsh when asking questions or giving feedback.

If you are a Guardian, keep these things in mind:

  • Not everything is black and white. You might be a little right and a little wrong at the same time.
  • Your commitment to stability is valuable, but you also need to value the voices that are more focused on the future. That is where innovation comes from.
  • Projects can fail or deadlines can be missed, and it doesn’t mean anyone is to blame.
  • You don’t need to prove that you’re good at your job, but you might need to work a little harder to prove that you care about the people on your team.

Connector

Connectors are people-people. They’re the ones who liven up meetings with jokes, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Their highest focus is on collaboration because they love making sure everyone is excited and involved. Connectors make up about 11% of the population.

A Connector is very easy to spot. They’re the ones who have no trouble making a close friend out of the person sitting next to them on the plane or in line at the bank. Are you constantly trying to get the new people you meet to connect with each other? Can you only get excited about an idea if everyone is on board? Do you find yourself spending too much time helping someone else because you care about the relationship, when you should be focused on your own problems? This might make you a Connector.

A Connector’s strength is also their weakness. They are givers, and they’re enthusiastic, but it’s easy for them to fall into the trap of spending all their time on their relationships and not enough time on their actual tasks. Thus, Connectors will shine when their job is almost entirely focused on their relationships. For instance, they make outstanding salespeople because they’re incredible talkers and amazing storytellers.

If you’re in charge of managing a Connector, you need to make sure that you keep them on track, and that they don’t use their people skills to kill time. For example, in a meeting, a Connector will likely be guilty of responding to an idea with a story of their own. A Connector is often focused more on their relationships to the people in the room than getting anything done.

If you’re a Connector, keep these things in mind:

  • Try not to overshare. People love you, but work is work.
  • You’re an enthusiast, but you need to value the people who are more disciplined and slow-moving. They’re being practical and need to get things done on their own time.
  • When people disagree with your ideas, they aren’t attacking your relationship with them.
  • Don’t be so afraid of an uncomfortable encounter that you fail to be direct.

Pioneer

Pioneers are natural leaders — and natural disruptors. Armed with high confidence and high ambition, people will follow Pioneers into battle, and sometimes, they’ll lose. But more often than not, a mature Pioneer will inspire courage and success in the troops. They’re the rarest of all foundational voices, making up only 7% of the population.

A Pioneer’s ambition cuts both ways. When they’re on the money, they’ll lead your entire group to success. But if they’re feeling undervalued, a Pioneer may create a very adversarial environment. They’re not ones to compromise quickly. Furthermore, a Pioneer will likely see your support as black or white: Either you’re with them or you’re against them.

If you’re managing a Pioneer, try to pair them with a Nurturer when you can. The Pioneer could learn a lot from them. You need to do what you can to bring a Pioneer down to everyone else’s level, where they don’t only see their ideas as the right way to go.

If you’re a Pioneer yourself, save everyone a lot of trouble, and remember:

  • Only 7% of the world thinks the way you do. Be patient with the other 93%!
  • Pick out someone in a group who needs support and be the one who helps them. You need to develop the practice of caring for other people and their ideas.
  • Keep yourself calm when giving feedback. You are most likely to hurt someone’s feelings when it’s your turn to criticize.
  • Be watchful of your instinct to immediately challenge people when they’re voicing disagreement with you.

Conclusion

There is no such thing as a bad communication style. While each archetype has its weaknesses, these less positive tendencies can be avoided with good leadership and self-awareness on the part of the communicator. Keep these last notes for each communication style in mind:

  • Nurturers need to feel like they, and everyone else on the team, are being taken care of. Don’t get frustrated when they resist change. Take their input on how to implement new ideas without putting anyone at too much risk.
  • Remember to ask a creative to repeat themselves when they’re communicating an idea. Behind that confusing word-salad, there is probably the gold that will bring your project into its next phase.
  • Guardians are not kill-joys; they’re just hyper-responsible. Don’t make them feel like cynics. Appreciate their discipline and rigor but also remind them to lighten up at times.
  • Revel in the joy a connector brings into your life but don’t let the fun distract you from keeping them on track.
  • Know when and where to put your pioneer to use. They can move heaven and earth; just make sure they’re moving them in the right direction.

About the author

Jeremie Kubicek is an international keynote speaker, leadership coach, and the CEO and co-founder of GiANT Impact. Along with co-authoring 5 Voices and 5 Gears, he is the author of the bestseller Making Your Leadership Come Alive.

Steve Cockram is a co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, where he teaches leaders around the globe how to implement his methods of emotional intelligence, organizational leadership, and interpersonal communication. In addition to 5 Voices, he is the co-author of 5 Gears.

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