How leaders say ‘follow me’
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The words your manager uses, and the actions that follow, provide an insight into the type of leadership they're offering.
Feel-good leadership words really bug me, but not as much as they might bug you if your boss uses them.
Leaders are known by their words, deeds, actions, values, principles, and by the people they attract to their team.
But it’s their words that set the tone for the environment, their words that start the internal chatter, and their words that start their internal reputation.
Then the actions follow. All are studied and judged by the team.
I read a lot of stuff about leaders and leadership. Below are some leadership ‘words’ (in no particular order) that sound good, but mean virtually nothing. You’ve heard them, and groaned about them.
• ‘Embrace’ means you’re ok with it, but not necessarily a participant – not good. I don’t want leaders to ‘embrace change’; I want a leader that takes action. Action is a better word, because it means something’s happening.
• ‘Accountable’ means they fess up if (and after) something goes wrong, and results are measured. Responsible is a better option. Be responsible for yourself and to yourself. Be responsible for your words and deeds. Be responsible for your attitude. Be responsible and take responsibility for your achievements.
• ‘Effective’ – to me, effective means mediocre. Sort of carries a ‘so-what?’ feeling to it. I really don’t want an effective heart surgeon. I want the best. He’s an effective salesman? Or he’s the best salesman? Which would you rather have?
• ‘Diversity’ – I really don’t know what this means in business. I guess it refers to hiring and doing business with all types of people and businesses. Sad that the world has to come to this. It seems forced. I prefer the word inclusive. It tells a deeper tale of involvement, and is a positive word that needs no defining.
• ‘Focus’ – this is a word that means the leader is paying major attention to. I would rather know from my leader what his or her intention is, and what the intention is to do something about what you’re focused on. Just because you’re focused on something doesn’t mean you intend to do something about it.
• ‘Paradigm’ – this word that has lost its way. Sometimes it’s accompanied by the word ‘shift’ and means there’s a new way. Or to add to this corporate speak dialogue, the word ‘change’ is added as well. Change is arguably the most negative word in business besides bankrupt. A better word is opportunity. When change occurs or there’s a paradigm shift, doesn’t it make a whole lot more sense to look for the opportunity? I agree.
• ‘Results’ – Bob is results-oriented. Bob focuses on results. Not good. Bob needs to lead his people, and convey his intensions. A better word is outcome. Outcome takes both people and task into consideration and stresses what happens after completion.
Reality: Think about all these words in a group. As a leader, which group would you like to have attributed to you?
Group one: Embrace, accountable, effective, diversity, focus, understand, paradigm, results.
Group two: Action, responsible, best, inclusive, intention expert, opportunity, outcome.
Group two will consist of proactive, powerful, respected, followed leaders. Group one will consist of reactive, weak, disrespected leaders that will lose their best people – to the leaders of group two. Embrace that paradigm.