10 Simple Rules for Mastering the Language of Leadership

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Have you ever tried to help a tourist with directions, only to discover that there is a language barrier?

Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? When you don’t speak the same language even basic communication can be met with a blank stare.

And it’s no different when you’re dealing with leaders.

There is a distinct “language” of leadership. Effective leaders communicate differently than do others. If you are a leader, and you know this language, it can be very easy to cast vision, to mobilize teams, and to outline strategy.

But if you don’t talk like a leader, these core functions can be met with that dreaded blank stare.

If you want to master the language of leadership, here are 10 essential starting points:

1. The Language of Leadership Aims for Clarity

  • Leaders don’t muddle their message by trying to use impressive sounding long words. Leaders are driven to ask not, “Was it impressive?” but “Was it clear?”

2. The Language of Leadership Paints a Compelling Picture

  • Leaders describe a picture of a preferred future. And they do so using vivid, inspiring word pictures of where the journey is going.

3. The Language of Leadership is Concise

  • Leaders are not ramblers. They get to the point.

4. The Language of Leadership is Passionate

  • For leaders, tone is as important as content. They use their voice, their expression, and their body language to convey the authentic passion they feel.

5. The Language of Leadership is Emotionally Intelligent

  • When leaders speak they keep their radar on full alert to the emotional dynamics in the room, and they adjust their words accordingly.

6. The Language of Leadership is Thoughtful

  • The mark of a leader is the profound ability to speak well-reasoned words, versus off-the-cuff opinions.

7. The Language of Leadership is Optimistic

  • Leaders are not naïve, but they communicate hope.

8. The Language of Leadership is Truthful

  • ‘nuff said.

9. The Language of Leadership is Respectful

  • Leadership language does not dominate a conversation; it makes sure all of the other voices are heard.

10. The Language of Leadership is Action-Oriented

  • Leaders don’t merely talk about a subject. They use their words to move people towards action.

Do you ever receive the dreaded “blank stares”, indicating a language barrier?

If you’re a leader it could signal that you need to do a “leadership language inventory”.

And perhaps you need to brush up on the language of leadership

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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