www.wellsaid.com September 2014

A boy came upon a construction site where three men were working.  He asked the first, "What are you doing?" and the man replied: "I am laying bricks." He asked the second, "What are you doing?" and the man replied: "I am building a wall." When he asked the third worker, "What are you doing?" the man stood, smiled at the boy, and said, "Young man, I am building a cathedral!" This familiar story reminds us that successful leaders use words to paint a compelling vision. Their words challenge people to think beyond 'brick laying' and discover the purpose and passion behind their profession. As you lead and inspire the people around you to 'build cathedrals,' please consider the tips below to enhance your language of leadership.


Kind regards,


Leveraging the Language of Leadership:

Phrases Great Leaders Say


By Darlene Price, Well Said, Inc.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.  
--Mark Twain  
Great leaders deliberately choose specific words to say--and not say--in order to maximize their ability to achieve results through people. One common denominator of the most successful leaders throughout history is that their words and actions inspire others to "dream more, learn more, do more and become more" as John Quincy Adams said. That's why they are seen as leaders--the combination of their communication and character compel people to follow. Here are several phrases effective leaders say on a regular basis:


"I trust your judgment" "What do you think?" "Great idea--let's do it."
Leadership is not a solo act. The higher you rise in the organization, the less you do personally as an individual contributor--the more you do through and for others. The goal is to put the right people in the right places and enable them to succeed. Avoid the opposite phrase, "I'll do it myself." This attitude is notoriously referred to as the Do It Yourself (DIY) habit, which may be good for home improvement but not leadership. Andrew Carnegie warned, "No one will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it." 

"What do you need to succeed?" "How can I help?" "I'm here."

Use your power to empower others. Let your employees know that you're there to support their success; to provide resources, gain access, and help them pave the way for their growth and development. Conversely, avoid declaring, "I'm the boss around here!" By announcing this fact, you negate it. As Margaret Thatcher said, "Power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

"You have my permission to make mistakes." "Help me understand what happened." "What did we learn from this?"
Great leaders allow--even encourage--their people to fail forward; to turn blunders into building blocks, mishaps into stepping stones. That's why Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, advised, "The way to succeed is to double your failure rate." The antithesis is the unyielding attitude, "Failure is not an option." This phrase may work as NASA's creed; however, in the day-to-day workplace employees interpret it as, "Mistakes are not allowed," or, "I'll be punished for errors." This attitude inflicts fear into followers, curbs creativity, and inhibits innovation. As Arianna Huffington says, "Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success."

"Interesting idea--how would that work?" "I'm open to a different approach." "Let's discuss the pros and cons."
Great leaders are passionate about innovation--finding a better way of doing something. Avoid the phrase, "That's not the way we do it here," or "That'll never work." In one fell swoop, these words reveal an attitude that is stuck in the past and unwilling to consider new ways. Steve Jobs said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." For this reason, the best leaders value employees who demonstrate creative thinking, flexibility, risk-taking, and problem solving skills.

"I couldn't have done it without you." "We're lucky to have you on our team." "Thank you for your contribution."
We all appreciate recognition for a job well done--employees crave it. Let them know that you value their contributions and recognize that they play a critical role in the success of the organization. Avoid the opposite demoralizing phrase, "Nice work, but you get paid to do a good job," or "You're lucky to have a job here." It implies you're doing people a favor by employing them, and they're indebted for the privilege of working for you. It's up to the employee to decide if that's true. As Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart affirms, "Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."

Please enjoy my recent interview with Business Insider on "10 Things The Best Leaders Never Say."



If your team would benefit from a group presentation skills workshop, please let me know. I would be delighted to support your speaking success! 


To learn much more on Leveraging the Language of Leadership, please read Chapter 11 of my book, Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover and Kindle). 


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