Effective communication

Effective Communication

Every church leader is in the communication business. That’s obvious when it comes to preaching but what about the way you communicate in a leadership team? Here's a resource that helped my leadership team in Bedford to become more effective.

I was so grateful to a friend who put me on to this resource. It’s been a boon to me and the leadership team at Grace.

It’s called Five Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead1 and describes five communication styles flowing out of our personalities, somewhat in the manner of the well-known ‘Five Love Languages’.

The book’s central point is that we don’t communicate effectively at times because of inflexible or unrecognised ways of relating to one another that don’t help others. None of this is scientific analysis but rather a useful device to start a conversation.

Finding your voice

The Five Voices of the title refer to what the authors call Pioneers, Connectors, Creatives, Guardians and Nurturers. Each voice has its very real strengths, but also potential weaknesses. It’s definitely worth knowing about both of those.

For example, some voices speak louder in a team setting while some voices are rarer than others. Do you know which are which? I’d say it’s a good idea to find out.

The authors also describe the problems that may arise when one kind of dominant voice engages with someone who speaks ‘another language’ which is very insightful!

It was a helpful way of understanding myself and others on my team – some of whom are very different from me.

How did we use it? We took the plunge. We got our whole staff team to do an online survey that could be easily accessed. Most read the book too. We then convened a staff meeting where we each talked through the results of our own profiles.

This meant we could discuss which of the voices best described us and we could talk about our dominant voice, our second voice and our neutral voice. There are also categories for areas where we are ‘unconsciously incompetent’ and ‘consciously incompetent’.

Celebrating difference

It all seemed to be a bit threatening when we started out but we soon got into the swing of it. “How do they know that about me; it described me to a t”, was one staff worker’s comment. We realised that we had nearly every dominant voice around the table, but that we also mutually complemented each other with a range of ‘second voices’ too.

It was so helpful hearing every person take part and then discuss how different voices are necessary and can combine to be a very powerful force for good. Contrast that with the potential – without mutual understanding – to create an environment where we don’t hear one another.

The take-home? We have subsequently discussed how we can better create a place where all are heard, where the best features of each voice is empowered, and where we can think more consciously about translating what and how we speak to the hearer.

After all, what is communicated is not what I say, but what you understand by what I say. And that even feeds through to my body language. This is not inconsequential for those of us in the communication business.

Overall, Five Voices is a really useful resource that will enable any team to improve its sense of being together on God’s mission. Give it a try; I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

1. Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram, Five Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead (Wiley, 2016). For an overview read Martin Salter’s blog post.

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