The Language of Leadership


Janet Galore on Flickr

The language of leadership is valuable currency. A leader’s words matter. They matter a lot. Every word spoken by a leader is leveraged. That means that a leader’s words have great power and even greater consequences . . . more then the leader imagines. Therefore a leader must consider his or her words . . . every day. Do your words empower others? Or do they disenfranchise? Do they encourage? Or do they discourage and reflect merely a performance mentality? Do your words truly reflect what is important to you and to your organization? Do your words advance the well-being of every person in the organization and the organization as a whole?

Every person needs to have three questions answered on a regular basis: What are my role and contribution? What do you expect of me? How am I doing? The language of leadership seeks to answer these questions in the most positive and helpful way.

Consider the language of leadership listed below. Do these words regularly flow out of your mouth towards those you lead?

“Do you understand why this organization exists?”

“Do you see how your role clearly contributes to the mission of this organization?”

“Do you clearly know what is expected of you?”

“You made a difference today.”

“You are necessary to what we do and your best efforts matter.”

“How can I help you succeed?”

“Are you becoming more and more aware of who you are and how you fit in the longer you work here?”

“What thoughts do you have on how to make this a better organization?”

“What can I do to become a better leader?”

“How would you describe our organizational culture?”

“What do you think we as an organization do best?”

“If you could change one thing about the culture of our organization what would it be?”

“What personal development do you desire or need to make your best contribution?”

“Do you feel like a valued member of the team?”

“How can I serve you today?”

“Thank you!”

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11


Leading By Naming

small__2274302968There are two aspects to naming that have the potential to powerfully shape the people around you.

One is simply knowing the names of those in your circle of influence. The other is in how you name those around you through your words that either bless or curse. As a leader your words matter. Your recognition of another carries great weight, far more than you probably consider to be true.

Do you know the names of those you lead?

Do you know the names of those who serve you every day in your position of authority?

Do you know the names of those who are a part of your every day routines?

Names are powerful. Our name is how we are known. Our name is the gateway to our identity.I don’t know of anyone who does not want to know and be known. But sometimes as leaders we forget the power of a name. We are busy people. We have things to do, places to be, worlds to conquer.

Do you realize that every day you are naming those around you?

Sometimes you name people out loud. You label them as weak, unchangeable, lazy, bad, worthless. Sometimes you label them in silence. What you don’t say is actually more impactful than what you do say. Silence can communicate that someone is invisible to you, lacking meaning and significance. Conversely, to tell someone that they are improving, a necessary part of the team, a person of great potential, a trusted colleague–can carry them for days, months or even years. We have great power as leaders to either bless or curse.

There is a curious phrase in the Bible tucked away in Genesis 5:1-2, “When God created man, he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them . . . “

There is much to ponder in these few words.

First, is that every person on the planet is a created being and made in the image of God. Therefore they have dignity and worth given to them by God. While we may be a leader, we are not the creator. We must not do less than God does in extending dignity and worth to all around us, from the trusted follower to the casual acquaintance. While we cannot create in the way God does we do share the power of being able to bless and to name. Never forget that we do share in the creative nature of God by the type of leadership culture that we form for the level of influence we have been granted.

The idea of blessing is to kneel before another. There are implications here for servant leadership. The idea also carries the connotations of praising, saluting, or adoring another. In other words we take the posture of humility and think of specific ways we lift up another through words that honor them for who they are and what they do. That takes awareness, sensitivity and careful thought.

That is where naming comes in. We must know someone’s name to adequately acknowledge and bless them. We know their name and then we name them. We take the time to inquire, remember and use their given name. Do you know how much power this simple act carries? We can lift people up out of their day to day doldrums by simply calling them by name. Dignity and worth are communicated by speaking one’s name. And then we have the potential to bless them by naming them again. We can call them special, useful, significant, powerful, creative, beautiful, thoughtful, trustworthy, faithful—worthy.

A name represents our person at a deep and meaningful level. As leaders we have the privilege to lead people. We do so at a much higher level when we honor our Creator by way of blessing those around us through naming!

(photo credit)