The Problem With Personality Tests
Have you ever taken a personality test, only to forget what it means a week later?
You might recall whether you thought your results were good or bad, but ask you what your letters were or which color you scored, and you stumble through a response that could generously be called a jumble of alphabet soup.
Well, fear no more. At GiANT, we devised a framework for understanding personality that is simple, intuitive, and designed with an educated thirteen-year-old in mind. In fact, the core principles of simple, scalable, and sustainable are baked into every concept and tool we create.
When it comes to personality, we realized that while systems like Jungian Type and Myers-Briggs are incredibly powerful (check out our ongoing series on Jungian Type!), we needed to create another system to help those of us who struggle to remember and communicate what we learn about ourselves to others. That’s why we distilled the multitude of personality types down to 5 basic leadership voices, and grounded each one in a distinct character narrative. Before we get going, however, we have a few ground rules to cover.
A Word About Ground Rules
One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear about any test related to personality is that “you can’t put people in a box.” That is certainly true and I promise we’ll never do it. In the 5 Voices system, everyone can and does speak all five voices. The issue in discussion is not about which one you are or are not. Instead, our system acknowledges that we all have access to each of the five voices, but that some are more natural for us. Think of it as using your right and left hands, you might be able to use both, but one will naturally be more dominant and effective. Usually, there are two voices that represent how we typically come across to others, so as we run through each voice, try to consider what your order of most prevalently used voices might be in your everyday life. Now that we have the basic assumptions out of the way, welcome to your official introduction to the 5 Voices of Leadership.
The Nurturer Voice
A Nurturer voice is usually the quietest voice on a team. They are the champions of relationships and doggedly fight to maintain relational harmony if at all possible. Confrontation is often a last, highly unattractive resort. Nurturers, as a rule, are always thinking of other people. It’s incredible how hyper-perceptive they can be regarding the emotional realities of their team. This ability often compels them to champion others before themselves. Therefore, most Nurturers consistently (and stubbornly) underestimate the contribution their voice brings to the table.
Because they tend to be quite sensitive and highly relational, their conflict avoidance often prevents them from standing up for themselves or voicing their ideas if others have already taken a position against it. As someone leading a Nurturer, you will have to create an environment where the nurturer voice feels safe to share their ideas before they are willing to put themselves out on a limb. Amazingly, 43% of people speak Nurturer as their first voice. If you aren’t sure whether someone is a Nurturer, they’ll be the one constantly advocating for “people before profit.”
The Creative Voice
As a future-oriented voice, you’ll often find the Creative dreaming about far-off visions and driving towards innovative possibilities. As champions of innovation, they’re always pushing the envelope in terms of new ideas, technology, thought, and better strategies. They also have a highly developed concern for social consciousness and will fight hard to maintain organizational integrity. Most creatives are constantly asking, “Are we being true to what we say? Are we people of integrity? Are we being authentic? Are we truly aligned with our values and strategy for the sake of our clients and employees?”
However, others will generally find the Creative voice hard to hear because what the Creative thinks they’ve communicated versus what they’ve actually communicated seldom align. This comes from both their impressive ability to draw connections between dots at such a high level or so far in the future, that they leave out what seems obvious to them, or they otherwise feel afraid to be assertive for fear of being wrong or stepping on toes. Nevertheless, the Creative voice provides a huge competitive advantage to most teams because they tend to see the long-range opportunities and dangers way before the other voices. They’re like a long-distance radar for potential strategic or ethical pitfalls, but usually need help from the rest of the team to encourage them in sharing their message.
The Guardian Voice
As many will soon realize, you’ll never have trouble hearing the Guardian voice on a team. Guardians are the custodians of traditions, systems, and processes, and as such, they seldom shy away from speaking their mind. They thrive on due diligence and will remain stubbornly devoted to the detailed analysis of pros, cons, and hard evidence in the decision-making process. You’ll also find Guardians ruthlessly dedicated to asking the difficult questions, which can be off-putting to ideators and caretakers, but will ultimately prove invaluable in the long-run through the mistakes and poor decisions they prevent.
Their “party-pooper” reputation may gain some merit from the sometimes blunt tone they adopt, but you’ll never find a better steward of team resources. The most daunting challenge for the Guardian voice will be their management of tone and tact, as well as reserving judgment of (in)competence just because someone disagrees with their strongly held opinions.
The Connector Voice
Connectors are the ultimate champions of strategic networking partnerships and people connections. This voice loves to play the role of translator and charismatic leader, thriving on their love of communicating vision and possibilities to everyone they meet. They always have a feeling for what people hear and work hard to ensure that what others are hearing is both accurate, and sparks a similar enthusiasm for the vision they want to build with everyone.
Interestingly, a Connector can sometimes feel like a chameleon because they tend to shift their message to others based on what they believe the other person wants to hear to get on board. That sixth sense for what inspires others can be both a powerful tool as well as a potential to come off as a “slick salesperson.”
The Pioneer Voice
Lastly, the Pioneer. We’ve deliberately chosen this order, with Pioneers last, because the voices get louder in volume as we move down the spectrum of voices towards them. As the most assertive voice on the team, Pioneers tend to naturally assume command and champion big picture vision. Their capacity to align people, systems, and resources make them like a sort of field marshal that always wants to win, and win big. Pioneers love to compete and play the role of captain, relishing the challenge to move everyone forward. They always want to be the one to make the tough decisions, or take the last minute shot to save the day.
When Pioneers work healthily with others, they are incredibly effective. However, when this voice trends toward immaturity or selfishness, they pose the greatest danger inside a team. Without self-awareness or a “for others” mentality, Pioneers can become domineering and dismissive of the other voices in favor of pursuing their own agenda. As part of their nature, Pioneers rarely shy away from arguments or sharing critique, but when harnessed effectively, they provide a powerful catalyst for team and organizational achievement.
Keep in mind that no one is all one voice, and yet, each voice matters and brings an invaluable, unique contribution to every team. The best thing you can do for your team is to take the time to learn about each voice, own your voice order, and be sure to value every voice at the table. Too many companies, leaders, and employees suffer because voices are either unknown or unappreciated.
This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your leadership voice affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!