With their language, business heads can hurt or help more than they realize.
“It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away” – Bee Gee’s haunting lament (Words, 1968) over a failed relationship is an honest portrayal of the power of language. Words when used effectively can heal wounds, mend fences and inspire us to greater heights. It is the most important tool for leaders to resolve disputes, enact strategies, measure results and share innovation.
The language of great leaders is deliberate and respectful. For inspiration, watch one of US President Barack Obama’s speeches. Leaders don’t rely on gestures or non-verbal cues but will clearly articulate the purpose and direction of their actions. A true leader will encourage, share and give credit where it’s due. Like a parent, a leader will support, praise and discipline his or her followers as necessary.
Express the expertise
When speaking, display your knowledge of the subject or issue at hand. People have little interest in listening to individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic and will instantly recognize if you’re faking it. Also, when unsure of something, don’t be afraid to admit it. People want honest leaders whom they can trust and respect.
Communicate with clarity
Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing. Make your words count as everyone is pressed for time. The best communicators are adept at transferring ideas, setting expectations, inspiring action and spreading the vision.
Some of the greatest discourses happen within a conversation. Simply launching into a lecture will not produce the desired result. Hear what people are saying, take a few seconds to process it, understand the meaning and then offer a response. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view by using words like “I understand.” If you don’t develop meaningful relationships with people, you’ll never know what’s really on their mind. Remember, empathetic communicators are the epitome of authenticity and transparency.
Have an open mind
A great leader understands there will be opposing perspectives. Embrace and actively seek them out to genuinely understand their arguments. Do not attempt to change their views, just have dialogues with those who confront and challenge you. Great leaders are those who express a willingness to discuss issues with an open mind.
As leaders, communicate directly, ensure the message is specific, consistent, clear and accurate. Keep in mind that communication is not about you. It is about helping others meet their goals, which should match yours.