10 Magic Phrases That Will Make You a Better Leader
By Dan McCarthy, Director, Executive Development Programs
Want to be a better leader? Then try improving your vocabulary. No, I'm not talking adding the latest management and leadership buzzwords or jargon to your repertoire. I'm talking about adding some powerful phrases to your vocabulary that will engage, motivate and inspire others.
"How can I be a better leader?"
Variations of the question include "How can I be a better parent?", "How can I be a better spouse?", and "How can I be a better child?"Just make sure to listen and say.....
Use these two powerful words as a response to constructive feedback (which should be seen as a gift), positive feedback, as a way to express gratitude for going the extra mile or a job well done, or when someone brings bad news or a problem to your attention.
Variations include "Good work!" and "Way to go!" Giving positive reinforcement becomes even more powerful if when it's specific, timely, and you can explain why (positive impact), but let's not over-complicate it too much for now.
"What do you think?"
Asking someone for their opinion or ideas is the ultimate demonstration of respect. And when you get those ideas, don't forget to go back to #2.
"How can I help?"
Often used as a way to express support during a development discussion, in problem solving, when someone is going through personal difficulties, or when problems or ideas are brought to your attention.
Instead of coming up with reasons why something won't work, ask yourself and others "What's possible?". And if they do come up with examples of how similar ideas have been tried in the past and have not worked, use the phrase "Up until now."
"I don't know."
Use this when you truly don't know the answer to a question or solution to a problem - it demonstrates humility and authenticity. It goes well with "what do you think" as a follow-up.
"Why is that important to you?"
This question demonstrates that you care, and you'll learn a lot about the person's motivation and values.
"Help me understand."
A much better way to understand someone's logic, reasoning, feelings, etc... than "Really?!", or "Seriously?!", or "What are you thinking?!"
"I believe in you."
I may have saved the best for last. What a way to express confidence in someone's ability or potential!
You'll learn a lot about yourself, how to lead others, leading teams, and leading your organization.
I invite you to contact me with your leadership development goals.
Daniel J. McCarthy, Director
Executive Development Programs
University of New Hampshire