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The Language of Leadership

Jumble of letters

Years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a bestselling book titled “The Five Love Languages,” in which he described the various ways people prefer to be spoken to in order to feel loved. It was a great book for people interested in making true connection and strengthening relationships, and just as there are certain languages for love, there is a language for leadership.

Language is generative, and what we say to ourselves and to others matters greatly. Many of us, including our leaders, are often sloppy with their language, making all kinds of assumptions and often failing to ground those assessments. We interpret, jump to conclusions, and often use cold and sterile language that fails to inspire people to take purposeful action.

The words that we use really do matter. And sometimes we are so concerned about offending others that we sanitize our language to a flavor of vanilla that nothing really hits, or it seems like we have said nothing at all. We often avoid tough conversations and fail to be clear because we are trying too hard not to hurt anyone’s feelings – or perhaps, more accurately, we are overly concerned about ourselves.

Being clear is a gift. Saying what we mean and meaning what we say saves time, builds relationships, and drives performance. Asking for what we want – specifically describing it, as opposed to having unstated and therefore unmet expectations – demonstrates the courage to lead.

Being bold enough to declare what you will do and who you will be, and then being vulnerable and optimistic enough to allow things to unfold at their own pace and speed, is part of the language and beliefs that leaders need to evolve and contribute over time. Being honest, but not blunt; being sensitive, but not soft; being clear but not dogmatic are key factors in the communication needed to continue to lead ourselves, others, and our organizations to high levels of performance.

Consider joining us for one of our many developmental programs that help you declare what success looks like, make clear requests of direct reports, and inspire the troops to engage at high levels of ownership and performance. Courses include LeadFORWARD, Creating a Culture of Commitment, Emotional Intelligence, and Emergent Leader.                  

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