Want to be an inspiring leader? Watch your language

Want to be an inspiring leader? Watch your language | practice (split each time) | Data is great, but it's useless without understanding
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March 28, 2024
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Leading the Way
Want to be an inspiring leader? Watch your language
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Leaders can better connect with their teams and inspire their success by ditching hedging phrases such as "seems like" or "I believe," asking thoughtful questions and using pronouns such as "we" to build collaboration and "you" to increase engagement, says Wharton School marketing professor Jonah Berger. Using words to become a persuasive and inspiring leader is something anyone can learn, and Berger suggests recording yourself to catch verbal ticks that may be undermining your leadership.
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Put it into practice: When asking your team to help on a project, turn the action into an identity by asking them to be a "helper," Berger suggests. "We all want to see ourselves as smart, competent, and intelligent in a variety of different things."
SmartBrief on Leadership
Data is great, but it's useless without understanding
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Analysis of data is crucial for a company's success, but developing a deep understanding of how that data will play out in an ever-changing operating environment is what separates success from failure, writes executive coach Dave Coffaro. "With understanding, leaders can choose to initiate change intentionally (or react to forces evolving in the organization)," Coffaro notes.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (3/27) 
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Put it into practice: Business leaders face constantly changing variables, including customer desires, competing companies, technology and economics, which means data must be understood to make the right decisions, Coffaro notes. "Leaders must be tuned to conditions in the present moment to infer and inform actions taken today, aligned with future success."
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Form a genuine connection with customers by actively listening to their concerns, expressing empathy, offering genuine compliments and balancing friendliness with professionalism, writes Ian Miller. "Good rapport is not just about resolving the immediate issue at hand; it's about creating an emotional connection that can lead to a long-term relationship," Miller notes.
Full Story: CSM (3/26) 
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Put it into practice: Use clear, jargon-free language when talking with customers to avoid misunderstandings and be sure to thank them for their loyalty and understanding, Miller advises. "Remember that every customer is different, so be adaptive and genuine in your efforts."
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In Their Own Words
Tony Robbins: Don't let fear guide tough decisions
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Decisions made from fear, or delayed until more concrete information comes in, will fail, writes life and business strategist Tony Robbins, who recommends writing down your thoughts about a decision, clarifying your goals and selecting options that "can move the ball forward and discovering if it's right or not." "It can be a tough choice you're making, but if it aligns with what matters most to you and the organization, you are propelling yourself in the right direction," Robbins notes.
Full Story: Real Leaders (3/26) 
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Daily Diversion
The balsa-wood door prop that saved Kate Winslet's Rose in the movie "Titanic," but apparently didn't have enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack to join her has been sold at auction for $718,750. Other movie props also fetched high prices, including Indiana Jones' bullwhip from "The Temple of Doom," fetching $525,000, and a can of shaving cream from "Jurassic Park" that Wayne Knight used to smuggle out dinosaur embryos, selling for $250,000.
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NHL great Wayne Gretzky started his career with the Edmonton Oilers and scored a majority of his 1,072 total goals with them. But his last goal was scored as a member of what team?
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About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Chellew
How a leader speaks and the language that they use can have a significant impact on how well your team performs. When I worked at a university in Georgia, the vice president of our division had a nasty habit of using belittling and sarcastic language. Not just once in awhile, but all the time in all situations -- maybe especially in those that required some manner of empathy.

She was well aware of how she came across, and she liked being intimidating and off-putting. As a result, she lost a lot of good, competent staff, myself included.

I've had other bosses who were careful with language and were open to hearing how they could improve their communication. The leader of a grant project I worked on at a South Carolina university was such a person. When she spoke, you knew that she cared, but when she needed to assert herself, she always did it in a way that made you want to do your job better. As Jonah Berger put it, she turned actions into an identity. You weren't just her employee, you were a helper, a professional who could excel in their job given the right resources.

She was a joy to work with, and I was sad when the grant was over, and we all had to find other jobs.

Watching your language doesn't mean you have to stop being an assertive leader. Instead, it's learning to understand how your words can either motivate or discourage your team and finding the right way to help them fully engage their talents.

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

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