The Language of Leadership


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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


More on Leadership Words


Anthony Thomas Bueta on Flickr

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

Over 18 months ago I wrote a post entitled  Words Matter. Essentially I argued that spiritual leaders need to watch their words. In particular, I wrote that I was becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of vulgarities and profanities that flowed from the mouths of leaders, either written or verbal.

I was taken to task by several who completely disagreed with me on this topic. Some argued that being relevant and accommodating was more important. Others argued that no one takes profanity seriously anymore. That’s just how people talk. Words are words. Besides, it’s not the words themselves that matter, it is they way they are delivered. You can be loving regardless of your words.

It is interesting to me that not even culture agrees with these arguments. Has anyone missed how Jameis Winston’s words shouted from a table top to an open air audience at Florida State University was not simply referred to as “words?” Even society at large knows that words actually matter. Yes, he also said something degrading towards women. He mimicked a meme. The problem is that he is a recognizable leader. It actually matters who is delivering the words too.

As a society, we parse every word that comes from a politician. We either applaud or denounce the words that flow out of Hollywood. We believe that those who represent us in government or society should be held to a different standard. Words matter and a leader’s words matter immensely. A leader’s words are always leveraged, causing a greater impact.

Words either give life or steal it. Words build up or they tear down. We lack wisdom and we seem to be lacking courage on this topic. I have actually never had anyone take me to task for not using profanity, vulgarities or harsh words. Think about it. When we have a choice why in the world would we say something that even has the potential to do harm. If we are striving to be servant leaders we will consider well our words.

Take a minute to read through the Proverbs below.

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

What are your thoughts?