There is power in your words, Leader.
Leaders lead. We lead with our words, our actions, our intent, and our example.
Leaders lead. Leading flows from the inner core of a leader outward for followers to follow. Wisdom literature intrigues and builds me. Two principles that regurgitate in my meditative time apply here.
- What is in your heart comes out your mouth.
- Words carry life or death.
Uncomfortable as that may be for some, it is life and energy for leaders. Those that deny they are being led are fools looking for a place to fail. Those that accept they are both being led and leading others have matured to a grasp of reality needed for contentedness and success. Watching words is a key necessity of leadership.
One of the ways leaders lead is with the entry words they use in conversations and meetings and personal engagements. So let’s look at five phrases that lead well and lead to impact and influence.
How can we lead effectively with our entry words?
Lead #1: How do you feel about this situation? Leaders fail many times by leading with precooked answers. Try leading with a question. The conversation is headed a positive direction based on your quick and thoughtful lead. Watch out for asking how people think. That will get you 80% less response than asking them how they feel. They will tell you what they think in response to asking them how they feel. For the most part, people are less threatened when asked how they feel than asked how they think.
Lead #2: There could be some amazing benefit to this approach. You just opened the other person or group up to a positive view of what follows. Yet, you have not committed anyone to a position of yes or no. The engagement is now open to include a description of the issue being addressed, but with an expectation of a positive outcome. Lead on.
Lead #3: What worries you most about our issue? Wow. You just posed an emotional tie to the others in conversation. It is not someone else’s issue, but our issue. You’ve entered into a supportive stakeholder position and communicated you will be there to help work through the blips. At the same time, you gave the other person influence in the next steps.
Lead #4: Have you considered a possibility of option X? This is an enticing lead that suggests a solution without forcing compliance. Leadership contains an element of power along with authority. By opening with consideration of an option, meaning there are other options, you give power to the others in the conversation. It can be a big win when working with a strong leader. Some leaders place themselves in defensive stance over a position they have taken in the past. You just graced them with a way out that saves face for them and could bring them better success than a present entrenched option.
Lead #5: Having considered many options, here is one I’d like to bring to the table for discussion. Okay, this is a lead based on research prior to this moment. You’ve opened the discussion to include consideration of other options and problem barbs and even rabbit trails. It is an empowering position for all included. Sometimes an entire room will just go quiet at this point and let you lead forward. Be ready for that. After all, you are a leader.
Summary: Notice none of these leads starts with the issue at hand. All of these communicate co-ownership of the issue and the solution and confidence in a positive outcome. Avoid leading with the issue. My days are full of conversations that start, “Phil, I have a problem.” That is a position of weakness. Sometimes the individual just wants to discuss their ideas. Many times they are looking to offload the problem and responsibility. Take responsibility by leading into a solution. Leading with the solution in today’s environment can be considered pushy and too strong. Lead with compassion and listening and strength with some key phraseology that reveals intent to engage along with intelligence and ownership. Lead on, Leader.