We often talk about the body language of leaders as being of utmost importance, with a person’s stance, physical appearance and overall demeanour seeming to shape their ability to create a good first impression. However, it is easy to overlook the importance of using the right words when in a leadership role. Despite the apparent ephemerality of words, language plays a huge role in how we come across to other people and can affect our relationships with them in untold ways. The following tips are just a few things new leaders should think about when it comes to language.
Get used to saying “we” instead of “I”
The language of leadership can be difficult to adjust to for those who are new to the role. Previously, while making your way up the ladder of a given sector or company, it may have been useful to sell yourself and promote your skill set, necessitating the use of self-aggrandizing – even egotistical – language.
In a leadership role, however, it is important not just to think of yourself as a ‘product’ in this way, but as someone who nurtures success and encourages others. In this way, you may find yourself using the pronoun ‘we’ far more than before, when ‘I’ was the most common word in your vocabulary.
Say “thank you” properly
Saying “thank you” sincerely is a skill every good leader should possess. To do so, your words must be simple. Do not be tempted to resort to excessive flattery or include lots of qualifiers, as this can appear insincere or as if you are after something in return.
Be less direct in expressing your desires
While this may sound counter-intuitive for someone running the show, there are benefits to tempering your language to be less direct, which can come across as cold or harsh. Instead of simply saying “I want this”, say “Here’s something to consider”, and explain yourself thoroughly. People are highly attuned to the nuances of language and will understand what you expect to get done. Expressing yourself in a more tempered way, however, is a great way to get people on your side and make them feel that they are respected members of a team.
Use positive language
This is a fairly obvious point but can be easy to forget while under pressure. Positive words such as “great”, “exemplary” or “outstanding” are things employees love to hear about their work and can drive well-being and productivity. If someone does something well, do not hesitate to let them know about it.