Do you use The Voice?

Sometimes you just have to use “The Voice”. My daughter was at a retreat this weekend with some team building. You know the kind: you’re in the woods with ropes and weird wooden structures and someone shouting inspiring clichés to you. There was some kind of team balancing on a fake boat going on. The team was to work together to keep their balance long enough to sing Row Row Row Your Boat three times.

My daughter tells me that she had the idea for everyone to sit, thereby lowering the collective center of gravity and making the balancing easier. With time running out, everyone sat except one girl. The boat continued to pitch. The squalls and steep swells were about to send the defiant one overboard as The Captain (my daughter) tried in vain to reason with the standing sailor. Finally, just before a rogue wave threatened to send them all to Davey Jones’ Locker, The Captain deployed her weapon of last resort: The Voice. “Sit. Down.” She was firm and respectful. Loud and calm. The landlubber sat immediately and just as quickly, the boat settled in. The team began singing in unison: “Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream…”

The Voice works because it appeals to one of the base emotions: fear. Accordingly, The Voice should be rationed as a last resort, though, because of the emotion it triggers. Effective, independent leaders of our day and age recognize that it is important to maintain a relationship free of fear and other negative emotions. When the alternative, however, is devastating failure, then as The Captain, you have an obligation to use everything at your disposal to serve the team.

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