Selecting, Retaining, and Developing 
Executive Leaders and Teams

January 2017

Leadership Tips
  • The best way to retain your best people is to have effective leaders. Remember people join organizations and usually leave their boss.
  • Avoid career derailment by believing that all politics are rational, logical, and understandable.
Words-What's In Your Leadership Tool Box
As an undergraduate student at San Diego State University, I took a class on cultural anthropology. Even after decades I remember the first time being exposed to the definition of "Man." This definition was gender neutral. My professor, a well traveled anthropologist clearly defined "man as the only animal totally dependent on tools." Even after decades, that definition reverberates in my mind.
One day, when musing about what leaders do, I realized the majority of the day is filled with written and spoken words. Thinking deeper, I realized that words are the building blocks of all communication. Then the logical conclusion is that words are the most critical "tools" people use in organization. I have observed over the years that the higher leaders are in organizations, the more their vocabulary is precise, potent, and particular.
Think about it! As your vocabulary improves so does your impact. With greater impact you will be remembered, have greater influence, and be prepared for the next promotion. In essence, you will be more successful!
Another benefit of increasing your vocabulary is that you can adjust the level of words to your audience. Be careful to use words appropriate to the receiver. In professional interactions more complex words maybe necessary. In day-to-day conversation simple words are best.
Increasing your vocabulary may seem obvious and superficial. However, booth research and my personal experience have demonstrated the power of words. Powerful words, such Martin Luther King's "I have a dream." or Abraham Lincoln's immortal words "with malice toward none, with charity for all..." will endure forever.
So, how do you go about increasing your "leadership tool box" with words? Here are five suggestions that my clients have found extremely effective:
  1. Play Scrabble - By playing a game, increasing your vocabulary will be fun. However, don't forget to use a dictionary to make sure your opponent uses words correctly.
  2. Play crossword puzzles - Competing with yourself challenges you to identify words that were once familiar and now hidden. The good news about crossword puzzles is they are everywhere. They are on your phone, in airline magazines, newspapers, and in books.

  3. Write and re-write - Any form of writing requires words. Writing becomes the stimulus to elicit words that may be less accessible. Write anything, even if it is not the next best seller.
  4. Power with succinctness - The right word can take the place of three. Challenge yourself to use fewer but more exact words.
  5. Listen and repeat - Notice the phrases and words used by other leaders and speakers. Practice using them in a sentence.
"Get to the Point-Painless Advice for Writing Memos, Letters, and E-mails your Colleagues and Clients
Will Understand"
by Elizabeth Danziger

We all are challenged by the avalanche of daily e-mails. Clear writing not only saves time but serves the reader. The author starts off the book with the statement "your mind is your most powerful word processor." She continues with the reality that writing is difficult. Writing well is hard work. The book provides insights and strategies to make writing painless.
According to the author, there are the critical three "Ps" to contemplate before writing anything.
The first P is Purpose.
Ask yourself "Do I want the reader to be persuaded, informed, warned, or to take action?"
The second P is Person.
Think about the emotional and intellectual state of mind of the reader. Think about the reader's hot buttons. Is the reader motivated by profit, praise, saving time, enhancing reputation, or power and control. Using words that "push" the reader's hot buttons will be read and remembered.
The third P is Point.
Before beginning to write, ask yourself "What is one main point?" Instead of showering the reader with a sprinkling of different points, focus your writing on one main point. During your planning process, continually ask yourself, "What am I am trying to say?"


Higher Shareholder Return

"Capitalization on Effective Communication-How Courage, Innovation, and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times."

A study by Towers Watson concluded that companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy
47% higher total return to shareholders compared to firms that are less effective at communicating.


Increasing your vocabulary is the easiest of all developmental action steps you can take to increase your success. Communication is part of any relationship. If you are leading, managing, or coaching, continually add more words to your career "tool box."
In This Issue
Solving People and Management Issues

The Heller Group focuses on coaching for senior level executives.  We facilitate change within an organization that results in more effective leadership,  increased productivity, innovative thinking, and improved employee morale and retention.

Learn more about The Heller Group, Inc. at
Dr. Bruce Heller

Dr. Bruce Heller, founder of The Heller Group, Inc., has over 20 years experience consulting with managers and executives on executive education, leadership development, and organizational.   


He is an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School. 


Dr. Heller is a consulting psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association Consulting Psychology Division. Dr. Heller holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree in Education from the University of Southern California.  


Dr. Heller is the author of The Prodigal Executive-How to Coach Executives Too Painful to Keep, Too Valuable to Fire.  

Read the book.