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Leadership

Understanding the voices in your team

A lot of our team and indeed the wider events industry are finding their new normal as we enforce an extended period of remote working. 

As a business built on face-to-face meetings and personal interactions, we’ve been exploring how best to navigate these challenging circumstances to ensure that we’re still collaborating effectively within our specific departments and as a wider team by understanding each other’s leadership voices.

In October 2019, ICC Belfast joined forces with leading communications agency DRPG, Callow Events and Visit Belfast to devise and host Leadership Live, a global summit for business leaders dedicated to harnessing the power of communications. The sessions were a mixture of panel discussions, interactive sessions and keynotes. Each space used had a bespoke set up to deliver maximum impact and create an immersive zone in which delegates were able to focus solely on the content.

Upon arrival, delegates enjoyed a Taste of Ulster in Bar 1, crafted by the ICC Belfast in-house hospitality team. A lush oasis was created using foliage and soft furnishings and delegates were able to sample fresh local produce including our chef’s speciality seafood chowder while networking with like-minded professionals in a relaxed environment.

The expansive Hall 1 and Hall 2, which span over 2500m² was expertly divided to create three zones, each with a unique twist by cleverly combining venue branding and production elements. The content was equally unique with sessions on leading the future workforce and creating meaningful employer brands as well as a live case study from the John Lewis partnership on how they created leaders that are ‘specialists in people’. Hall 1D was arguably the most impressive space. Used for the opening and closing sessions, it was set up in the round to give a more intimate experience.

Public speaking can bring even the most accomplished subject matter experts out in a cold sweat, so to share the list of competencies required to master this skill, it was fitting for this session that delegates were seated on the stage of our 2200-seater Main Auditorium, looking out at the sea of seats many famed researchers and CEOs have seen when making their addresses at ICC Belfast.

The final space used was our Studio theatre. Using floor projection to enhance the sensory experience of the topic, Russel Soden explained the 5 voices programme and how leaders can use it in order to unlock the potential of a team and create a healthy organisational culture.

Based on the responses given during a short and simple psychometric test, individuals’ primary voice is generated from the following list:

  • Pioneer
  • Connector
  • Guardian
  • Creative
  • Nurturer
There is a wealth of positive attributes associated with each of these groups although none are without their shortcomings. However, in understanding what makes our team members tick, we can create an environment that enables every voice to flourish.

Pioneers are wonderful because they approach life with an ‘anything is possible’ attitude and can continue to drive their team towards success, even during challenging times. As pioneers' ‘voice volume’ is loud, it is important for leaders with this primary voice to ensure that they use their platform to empower others and help profile the great ideas of fellow team members that may not be as vocal in expressing them, such as Nurturers. Pioneers must also be mindful that others may interpret the force of their passion as intimidating and in order to overcome single-mindedness they must be clear and transparent in outlining the rationale and motivating factors behind the compelling vision they want others to buy into, ensuring that it always keeps organisational values at the core.

Connectors thrive in working as part of a relational network and during tough times will be critical in establishing and creating systems and processes that enable teams to successfully function remotely. As connectors have a tendency to interpret feedback as personal, the choice of words and phrases when communicating with this group is an important consideration during a time when body language and face to face interaction is impossible. As connectors are often less willing to engage with critical feedback, be sure to outline expectations clearly – create a shared action plan or schedule progress check ins to ensure both parties are in agreement on next steps when collaborating on tasks or projects.

Guardians are the champions of due diligence, traditions and efficiency so a significant shift, such as moving to work from home may take longer for this group to adapt to. Future orientated voices such as Pioneers and Creatives can learn a lot from the Guardians during this time because Guardians will bring a sense of structure to the here and now, which will assist with the operational execution and risk management of long-term strategic plans these groups are adept at envisaging. Compromise may not come easily to Guardians whose desire for solutions and protocols may override their ability to be seen as a true team player. Guardians aren’t afraid to ask the difficult questions of others, but should ask these of themselves during this period – is following a longstanding process for the sake of following a process really more important than taking a dynamic, measured risk?

Creatives love to think outside the box and may use this opportunity to experiment with new practices or techniques that in time could become standard organisational processes that deliver incredible business results. As inherent perfectionists, creatives are sometimes reluctant to share ideas for fear of reality failing to meet their high standards. Reach out to the creatives in your team and let them know that everyone is in this together and that in unprecedented times, there is no such thing as a right or wrong answer. Creatives champion innovation and prefer to plan for a future that they perceive as being better than the present. This group should open their ideas up to a wider group, invite feedback (as difficult as that may be) and actively seek to make marginal improvements on existing processes rather than quantum leaps to explore new ideas that will distance themselves from their colleagues.

Nurturers represent almost half of every organisation and will defend values and people first when faced with a problem. These natural team players are key to succeeding during a period of change and should be encouraged to embrace it and not remain passive. Their ‘voice volume’ is softer than others so organisations should consider a multi-faceted approach to feedback so that no member or group feels overlooked. Nurturers must learn to take pride in the contribution they make within an organisation. If this contribution goes unrecognised it can breed an attitude of passive aggression amongst nurturers, which is difficult to resolve if other groups are unaware that their actions have fuelled it.

Every organisation is made up of a unique mix of voices and the first step of maximising potential is to identify each person’s primary voice. You can take the quiz for free online here.

From our team to yours, we hope that you are staying safe and well during this period and we look forward to welcoming you back for more incredible events like Leadership Live as soon as we possibly can.


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If you have any other questions about our event space, our team would be happy to help