Kubicek and Cockram are business consultants first, not psychologists. They’re really not psychologists at all. But, they are gifted leadership coaches, and 5 Voices contains the foundational principles that company decision-makers and culture-setters need to create a healthy, productive team atmosphere.
Practically, there are a few ways they accomplish this. For one, Kubicek and Cockram clarify that all of us can speak every voice - some just come more naturally to us. (By the way, if you're wondering what the voices are, check out my post where I briefly summarize each of them). All of us have some aspects of each personality profile inside of us, and depending on the setting, a different side of us may become more apparent. This acknowledgement is crucial in helping people feel appreciated and validated rather than labeled and put inside of a box.
Beyond that, the authors also provide some tangible action points to put in place. In a business setting, often we overlook or undermine those that are quieter, or that ask hard questions like “Can we afford this?” or “How are people going to feel about this?” or “Is it really worth the risk?,” but we’ll do far better genuinely winning their buy-in than we will by insisting on it. To do this, Jeremie and Steve recommend letting them speak first in meetings as well as intentionally including those voices on advisory boards to ensure that they feel well-represented.
Everything comes with a trade-off, though, and 5 Voices is no exception. In order to make the terminology intuitive to people, the authors sacrifice a lot in the depth of analysis for each voice. In my opinion, people would gain much more insight about themselves using probably any other profile out there - whether it be DISC, StrengthsFinder, Myers Briggs, Enneagram, or whatever else. Like I said, these guys are business consultants first, and their focus on business culture diminishes the breadth of application for the voices.
The biggest downer of the book is that it over-promises and under-delivers. It felt like 50% of the book is marketing fluff - testimonials from their clients, explanations of what they hope you get out of the book, and upsells into their business coaching programs - not actual content. When they are informing rather than advertising, nearly all of it is spent catching us up to speed on each voice profile and learning the language to describe them (that, by the way, almost identically mirrors the DISC profiles). Once you’ve finally got your head around these five descriptions and learned their respective strengths and weaknesses, you’re ready for some hands-on application. After all, you’ve been reading a testimonial every other page about some CEO that swears by the impact of the 5 Voices in their company.
So, what do the authors give you?
“Stop neglecting voices that are quieter or aren’t like yours. You have to listen to people.”
You think to yourself, “Brilliant! Yes. I should listen to my team, because not only do they have valuable perspectives, but they probably won’t like working here very much if I don’t. Okay, got it. Listen to people. Now how do I do that again?”
Jeremie and Steve give a cool response, “Easy - let them speak in meetings without shooting them down and let them be on advisory boards.”
You think, “Wonderful! I can do that. That’s great. Alright, what else? What’s next?”
Jeremie and Steve, with an uncomfortable half-smile, say, “Well, uh, that’s actually all we put in the book ... There’s a lot more though - we promise - you just have to pay extra for that. Here’s a link to our consulting website. Thanks for reading.”
And that’s that.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading 5 Voices. I’m a sucker for personality tests, and I do believe that we can all benefit from knowing ourselves deeply, understanding how others perceive us, and appreciating the gifts and personalities of others. IQ and work ethic are not enough - we need sharp emotional intelligence to successfully lead a team, and Jeremie and Steve’s EQs are up there with the best of them. Despite feeling disappointed with the lack of clear action points, the truth is I’m still better off than I was before. I’m more cognizant of the need to incorporate the strengths and perspectives of the entire team, and more able to shape how I speak depending on who I’m speaking to in order to maximize trust and support.
Kubicek and Cockram put it like this: “When it comes to communicating vision, it is not about the boldest voice or the grandest vision, but rather, it is simply about understanding your audience and which voice or voices are able to connect most effectively with the audience” [p. 168].
I couldn't agree more - and I didn't know that before reading 5 Voices.
What's your foundational voice? I'm a Pioneer-Nurturer, which basically means I live in a constant internal tension between strategy / tasks / future and harmony / people / present. Hopefully their next book tells me how to balance that :)
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You're the only one in the world with YOUR voice and YOUR story - we are ALL better off when you let your light shine!