Unsuspected Ways Your Word Choices Betray You

Many leaders lose their followers' respect because of how they speak.
Many leaders lose their followers' respect because of how they speak. (Pexels)

I'll never forget the moment in my first pastorate when a very Christlike deacon pulled me aside and offer me some advice in leading a church. I had been a leader in the business world a long time, but this was new for me. He helped me lead in the church in ways which are being realized even today.

The best leaders I know are always learning.

Recently, I sat in on a leadership meeting for another organization. I didn't feel I had the relationship to speak into this leader's life, but I left sincerely hoping someone would do so—and he would be willing to learn.

The problem?

This leader had a terrible leadership vocabulary.

Part of maturing as a leader is developing a language which will help the organization and its team members achieve greatest success.

Here are some examples of what great leaders learn to say:

  • "Yes" (to other people's ideas) more than "No"
  • "Why not?" more than "I don't think so"
  • "Our" more than "My"
  • "We" more than "I"
  • "Thank you" more than "You're welcome"
  • "Let's do it" more than "We've never done it that way before"
  • "I believe in you" more than "Prove yourself"
  • "Here's something to think about" more than "I command you to"
  • "What do you think?" more than "Let me think about it"
  • "How can we?" more than "This is the way"
  • "I take full responsibility" more than "I'm not responsible"
  • "They work with me" more than "They work for me"

Great leaders understand the power of their words. The things they say develop the culture of the organization, team members' perceptions of their individual roles and the overall health and direction of the organization. Great leaders, therefore, choose their words carefully.

How's your leadership vocabulary? What would you add to my list?

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

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