Booked review: 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone you Lead

Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram explain how to speak to staff in their language

5 Voices, How To Communicate Effectively With Everyone You Lead by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram.

5 Voices, How To Communicate Effectively With Everyone You Lead by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram.


Greater self-awareness and awareness of the personalities and motivations of others is the promise of this book which combines popular psychology with theories tested in the field. Authors Kubicek and Cockram are co-founders of the GiANT group of companies and have both written previous bestselling management books. They have produced an entertaining volume with some interesting observations.

The angle here is the notion that there are five voices: the pioneer, the connector, the guardian, the creative and the nurturer. Each of us has the ability to speak and understand all of these voices, we are told, but there is one dominant one in the set for each of us: a voice that is easy to speak and understand. This is known as the foundational voice.

One of the key messages of the book is that we tend to interpret all communication through our foundational voice and this tends to trip us up as we misinterpret the meaning of others frequently. Similarly, when we speak, we assume everyone has our codebook to interpret what we are trying to communicate. Therefore 5 Voices acts as a shared codebook that allows us to truly interpret and understand what others are trying to share, as well as to be understood ourselves.

The authors are sceptical about personality tests, caution that their own model is not an attempt to definitively interpret who we are but rather provides a lens to allow us to observe our leadership behaviours and the behaviours of those around us in a new light.

Assessment for the“5 voices” is a relatively simple process and each voice is assigned one of three colour codes: green, my foundational voice or default position of communication and thinking; yellow, not my foundational voice but one I value and find accessible; red, a voice I find hard to value and difficult to access.

Each of the voices is examined in detail. For example, creative voices can be difficult to hear, especially in the presence of loud opinionated voices such as those of connectors and pioneers. They are strong conceptual architects, love scanning the horizon and are often drawn towards new trends and ideas in technology.

The creative voice prefers to listen and process other contributions internally before responding. When asked for input their first ideas come out in a way that others find confusing or even critical – they need others to invest time, asking them clarifying questions, which gives them the space to allow the right answer to surface. However, when other voices are patient, they will be amazed at the gold a creative is able to contribute.

On the negative side, however, creatives can often fail to celebrate the 90 per cent that has been achieved, focusing instead on the 10 per cent that has not yet been accomplished. Idealism can often trump pragmatism, leading to a sense of paralysis until the creative believes it can be perfect. Creatives also have a tendency to ignore financial constraints and other practical hurdles.

Guardians have the loudest voices of the five and are wired to preserve and protect the status quo. They are present-orientated, they ask detailed, analytical and critical questions, and are not afraid to ask tough or awkward questions. Their inclination is to put the brakes on change where money, energy or other resources could be potentially wasted.

On the positive side, guardians have a selfless capacity to deliver the vision once it has been agreed and have a long-term commitment to deliver on time and on budget. They also have the ability to detach decision-making from personal sentiments. However, an immature guardian is often slow to compromise when they have a strongly held opinion and their deep desire for truth and the right decisions can often override the feelings of others. Tone and tact can often be an issue for them.

The authors also look at how cultural factors affect the voices they describe and draw observations from their global consulting experiences. In the US, pioneer and creative voices are well understood and accepted whereas in Germany, they note, these types are viewed with suspicion.

Clearly not worried about stereotyping nationalities, they observe that Swiss guardians love the prevailing culture – everything runs on time, it’s clean, everyone dresses smartly and the culture celebrates bankers, watchmakers, engineers and high-end chocolate.