Five Phrases That Strong Leaders Use (and the two words that can kill a conversation)

Successful leaders take time to understand the personality and dynamics of their team. They get to know the individuals and learn their skills and strengths. And then, they use these five phrases to lead the team past any obstacle and empower them to create great work in every situation. In fact, the best leaders use these five phrases repetitively because they are so successful.

1. “Here’s where we’re going—and this is how we’ll get there.”

Leaders are exceptional when they possess both a big-picture mindset and are simultaneously detail-oriented. They begin new projects by laying out the vision in a way that inspires the team. And then, they help each team member understand their unique role in the overall plan.

2. “Let’s work together.”

The best leaders have a willingness to jump into projects and work side-by-side with their team. Instead of delegating tasks and sitting back while the team works towards a goal, the best leaders know they have a crucial role in working alongside everyone else. Whether the leader is there to guide and inspire, give feedback, or take on crucial tasks, they are in the thick of the action.

3. “What do you think?”

Knowing when to stop and ask for help is a trait of the best leaders in the workplace. They value input and opinions because they know that diverse viewpoints improve the quality of their vision, processes, and products. When great leaders ask, “What do you think?” they don’t just levy their question towards the immediate team. Instead, they search out other experts and thought leaders to leverage their opinions.

4. “How can I help?”

Good leaders pride themselves on leaving the door open, but the best leaders know that an open-door policy is not enough. Instead of simply being available, they reach out to ask team members questions like, “What can I assist you with?” or “How could I make your job easier?” Questions like this encourage constant improvement, and even more importantly, exemplify the respect the leader has for his team.

5. “Thank You!”

At least every week, if not more often, great leaders approach the team or individuals who have made a difference, and vocally, purposefully say thank you. Not only does this boost trust, respect, and pride in their work, but a leader who shows he notices and appreciates contributions is also tapping into the proven number one motivator of producing great work: appreciation.

6. What NOT to say

Finally , it doesn’t matter how friendly your tone is, when you start your sentences with one, or both, of these words, the message to the recipient is “You are wrong.” What are these conversation stopping words? They are “No” and “But.”

These words don’t say, “Let’s discuss this” or “I’d love to hear what you think about this” to people. They say, unequivocally, “You are wrong and I am right.” If the person you are having a conversation with is also dedicated to their need to win at any cost, you have a potential battle on your hands. The result? Nothing more can happen that will be productive.

Are you interested in a little test to see how competitive your co-workers or staff are? Try this. For one week, keep a scorecard of how many times each person uses “no” or “but” to start a sentence. You will be shocked at how frequently these words are used. And, if you drill a little deeper, you’ll see patterns emerge. For instance, some people use these words to gain power. You’ll see how much people resent it, consciously or not, and how it stifles rather than opens up discussions.
I use this technique with my clients. Practically without even thinking, I keep count of their use of these two little words. It’s such an important indicator! If the numbers pile up in an initial meeting with a client, I’ll interrupt him or her and say, “We’ve been talking for almost an hour now, and do you realize that you have responded 17 times with either no or but?” This is the moment when a serious talk about changing behavior begins.

If this is your personal challenge, you can do this little test for yourself just as easily as you can to gauge your co-workers. Stop trying to defend your position and start monitoring how many times you begin remarks with “no” or “but.” Pay close attention to when you use these words in sentences. For example, “That’s true, but…” (Meaning: You don’t really think it’s true at all.) Another oldie but goodie is “Yes, but…” (Meaning: Prepare to be contradicted.)

Along with self-monitoring your behavior, you can also easily monetize the solution to this annoying behavior to help yourself stop. Ask a friend or colleague to charge you money every time you say, “no” or “but.” Once you appreciate how guilty you’ve been, maybe then you’ll begin to change your “winning” ways!

To turn these techniques into actionable realities within your organization, please make time in your schedule for a free, one-to-one consultation with Simon. Call us today at 440-385-6737!