Language: The True Leadership Element

When we think about leadership, what do we think of? We might think of management, responsibility, a mentor, working with and encouraging others, or even working within a team. But there is a difference between “leadership” and “management”, isn’t there? When we think about leadership, we should also think about language.

Every organization has its own vocabulary or buzzwords they throw around in training materials, meetings, and even in official documentation. But what do these words even mean? The executive level management team throws them around and expects employees to alter their working habits, attitudes, and goals to adjust and align to the new buzz.

While most leaders and managers understand what organizations are trying to do, sometimes the message can get lost in the shuffle down through managers and teams, and under workloads. But rarely do we actually stop and think about what certain words mean, or the words we use in daily conversation and in the delegation of tasks.

This is why leadership and language are so important. A leader is certainly responsible for certain managerial tasks, one of which most likely includes overseeing a team of people. However, how a leader functions within that team is what truly makes him or her a leader. A leader doesn’t just run reports, answer questions, and see that work and projects get done; this is a manger. A real leader encourages a team member to reach his or her goals and succeed, and uses the appropriate language to make this happen.

For example, let’s say your organization and its stakeholders all have one common goal or focus: education or community. Then organizational leaders would want to utilize language within teams that corresponds with this focus. Some keywords that may apply here could include educate, inspire, create, or learn; or centered, unified, common, interaction, or participation. Remember, this isn’t a glorified Thesaurus or “free association” task; language is carefully selected so that it accurately pertains to team and organizational focus and goals.

The idea is for successful and wise leaders to use this vocabulary and integrate it into team goals and everyday tasks. The more leaders use them, the more team members will catch on and begin to align their work habits and attitudes along with the organizational focus. This isn’t about brainwashing here, but we’ve all heard the phrase that a laughter and smile is contagious; language and attitudes are too. The more leaders are language-centered, the more teams will be too.

Who knew that language could be so closely tied to teams, management, and overall organizational operations? Language is elemental to a leader’s and team’s overall attitude and success. How can you integrate the right language into your team that is accurately aligned with organizational goals? Regardless of whether you are a team leader, entrepreneur, project manager, supervisor, or small business owner, integrate the use of language. Study the organization’s mission statement, team member goals, or even stakeholder correspondence to see which kind of language is used, and then work to find links between team member tasks and attitudes. Language is true leadership.

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