Applying 5 Voices: Rules of Engagement (Part II)

The 5 Voices comprise a powerful system for understanding the unique perspectives, skills, and contributions that we as individuals bring to a team. Learning to appreciate the way we think and work helps us bring our best at work and at home. However, if we fail to incorporate that knowledge into an appreciation of other voices, we’ll end up leaving opportunities for greater influence, better performance, and healthier team dynamics on the table.

That’s why we’ve kicked off our first series on “Applying 5 Voices” with a highly practical process for using the Voices to improve the ubiquitous deficiency of team meetings. By adopting a standard set of “Rules of Engagement” for each meeting based on foundational voice, you can establish an intentional approach to combatting the factors that tend to favor some voices while silencing others. In our first post, “Applying 5 Voices: Rules of Engagement (Part I), we discussed how to create an environment of empowerment that engages Nurturers, Creatives, and Guardians and draws out the important perspectives that each provides.

Today, we’ll be rounding out our survey of those rules by addressing Connectors and Pioneers. So, without further ado, let’s dive into a few applications of your voice knowledge that will help you get the best out of the Connectors and Pioneers on your team!


  1. Sell your ideas as passionately as you can
  2. When we critique them it’s not personal

The one thing that tends to be most obvious with Connectors is the fact that they love to dream in big picture, future vision, and then go around selling other people on their grand idea. They love envisioning a future of great change, achieved by a team of friends and colleagues who collaborate passionately on that shared vision. It’s what they do naturally, and they’re good at it. So the first thing to do with the Connectors on your team is to let them know that it’s okay to be themselves. After all, you’ll get their best thinking, strategy, and marketing ideas when you let them play to their strengths, so always invite them to sell their idea to the team as passionately as they can. 

Since the quintessential picture of an immature, self-centered Connector looks a lot like the classic car salesman with slicked back hair, some Connectors become get so determined not to be that stereotypical, charismatic salesperson just trying to sell the latest thing, that they end up cutting off their passion and vision casting skills too soon. If they start diving into the details and vetting process too early, then they’ll hamstring that capacity for intuitive ideation and strategy.

If you want to keep your Connectors from going down that path, try encouraging them with something like this: “Look, we’ve got plenty of people who can do due diligence better than you can. Guardian’s not your strength. If you believe it, if you can see an opportunity in this idea, then you’re much more likely to know what’s going to connect with the wider world as a product/offering/whatever it might be. Therefore, sell it for all you’re worth – make us cry if you need to – just bring in all of those incredible powers of persuasion, and we want you to give it your best shot.” 

However, just getting them to share their convictions with passion is not the only trick to maximizing the Connector’s contribution. It’s important to remember that all the zeal they bring to the sales pitch comes from a deeply held personal conviction and faith in their idea or vision. As relationally centered types, that means that any critique will often feel intimately personal, because they see their dreams and ideas as one-and-the-same with who they are. 

So the second rule of engagement is to be mindful of this fact and reassure them that any critique of ideas is not personal, but in fact originates from taking the idea seriously and wanting to find the best possible version of that idea. This will involve a process of helping Connectors understand that, despite a need for the due diligence of critique and debate, it does not reflect a lack of trust or love toward the Connector. Otherwise, if we as leaders don’t allow Connectors to share their ideas, or at least engage in some fun banter about it, then they’ll eventually shut down. When that happens, the entire team suffers by missing out on the key strengths that Connectors bring by way of networking, strategic connections, and persuasive communication.


  1. Please listen to everyone else’s view first
  2. Beware the strength of your critique

As the loudest and most assertive voice, the first rule of engagement for the Pioneer is to implement the practice of having Pioneers go last when giving their ideas, critique, etc. Since they tend to speak up first, and often forcefully, it can easily result in intimidation, bullying, or discouragement of other voices from participating and contributing, especially when they may be bringing an opposing opinion. This will usually comes as a huge shock to Pioneers, particularly when you realize how infrequently they contribute last in a team meeting. By implementing this rule, you’ll help Pioneers learn to listen to every other contribution first before they offer their own opinion or critique. We tend to find that the Pioneers are usually in it for the strategy and fun of competition, and so, therefore, they often come into the room and go, “Okay, this is what I think. Who disagrees?” Consequently, such a bulldozing, highly confident style of approach, more often than not, shuts everyone else down because the other voices don’t want to do battle the the Pioneer.

When the Pioneer goes last, however, it’s amazing how drastically the team dynamics change. Without someone setting the precedent or overpowering others right away, you will be shocked by how many different insights and perspectives you’ll hear that otherwise would never have come out of the team. 

The second rule of engagement with Pioneers is for them to beware the strength of their critique. Pioneers, even when think you’re being nice and on your best behavior, it still sometimes feels unbelievably harsh and critical. Remember that you have a weapons system called a “grenade launcher,” and there is no context in an indoor environment where firing off a shoulder launched grenade in a team meeting ever leaves you with a positive impact on the people around you. It’s really like putting the safety on and committing to listening first.

Most people are happy for the Pioneers to make final decisions, interestingly, but only if they truly believe everyone else has been heard, listened to, and not shot or destroyed in the team discussion process. Pioneers have incredibly valuable skills for strategy, decision-making, and mobilizing team and resources towards the completion of a goal. Consequently, most of the pushiness and blunt critique comes from their innate compulsion to drive for fast and efficient decisions, progress, and achievement. But all of those contributions go out the window if they silence the contributions of the other voices along the way.

Setting Up for Success

In the end, it’s a very simple process. By implementing rules of engagement for each voice, you’re essentially allowing every voice to speak and add their distinct view on the world. This frees up your team to generate far more new ideas and perspectives than they would have without an intentionally crafted meeting environment. It also means you are more likely to hear the truth from your people since they know it’s a safe place. 

The difficulty in adopting a system like these rules of engagement is due to the simple, ingrained power of the status quo. We’ve watched this process work over and over again, but it can be challenging because most of us are trained to have the same type of meeting: “Who’s the leader? How long is this going to be? Is my opinion welcome here?” But when you think of turning it from just a meeting of facts and tasks, to “Hey, I actually want to hear perspectives. I want to learn more about my people,” then the rules of engagement become extremely helpful for creating an empowered team culture.

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 voice and the rules of engagement affect your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

Source: GiANT

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