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Leadership is most effective when it is used to guide people in a single direction by a means of steady communication, encouragement, and action. There are many ways that a leader can influence action through their choice of language without having to rely on demands and decrees or other forms of negative reinforcement.
Here are eight things that successful leaders never say.
1. “I can’t.”
“I can’t” will stop people before they’ve even begun and will keep them trapped in a limiting mindset. It demonstrates to others that you don’t really believe in yourself. And if you don’t, who will? A better alternative to this phrase is, “How can we get this done?” The question is more positive and invites creativity.
2. “I don’t care.”
Telling your team that you don’t care is like announcing what little regard you have for what they are doing. It shows a lack of engagement and certain laziness of the mind because you can’t be bothered to think hard enough about the subject to come up with an opinion. An effective leader will take an interest. They demonstrate the kind of passion that inspires others to share their vision.
3. “I’m in charge.”
This phrase alone will inspire others to resent you for as long as you work together. It shows what little regard you have for the people on your team and the contributions that they make.
A good leader never has to tell people that he or she is in charge, they simply take charge by their actions and inspire others to share their vision. Someone who must assert their authority by announcing that they’re in charge is more interested in employees who are submissive and won’t ask questions.
4. “You don’t understand.”
A quick way to shut someone down and alienate them is to tell them that they don’t understand. Instead, make an effort to help them understand. A good leader instinctively knows that any misunderstanding is their responsibility to handle. Instead, try opening up the lines of communication with an encouraging, “How can I help you?”
5. “It’s impossible.”
If every suggestion or new idea is met with a disheartening, “It’s impossible,” eventually your team will stop trying to innovate. Telling people that something is impossible without exploring the possibilities doesn’t just demonstrate a lack of creativity, but a lack of confidence in your people. Every good idea should be explored before it’s discarded as unworkable.
6. “It’s not time.”
There is never a perfect time or a just-right moment. A great leader makes things happen without waiting around for all the planets to align or for all the lights to turn green. If the idea is worth pursuing, it’s worth taking action on now. This also demonstrates a leader’s flexibility and adaptive skills.
7. “It’s always been done this way.”
Leaders who are interested in maintaining the status quo and never improving will use this phrase. It declares to the entire team that there is no need to innovate: creativity is not welcome here.
Good leaders know, however, that things can change. Over time, a system that once worked just fine may no longer be effective. Or technology has made improvements easier.
8. “It’s nothing personal; it’s just business.”
Effective leaders know that it’s always personal to the person you are speaking to. If you have to make a decision that will affect someone negatively, trying to minimize it with this statement is the same as telling the other person that you don’t really care how they feel. It’s not a way to inspire loyalty in others.
What Do Successful Leaders Never Say?
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