5 Words You Should Say Every Day

Leadership impact comes in the context of the mundane. Every day little words inspire connection more than any grand speech you could deliver. It’s what you say when you think it doesn’t matter that matters. They notice the way you answer the phone, or your reaction in the hallway.

“Every day brings new choices”
~ Martha Beck

The choices you make when you’re excited, rushed, tired, hungry, annoyed, eager – all matter. Choose wisely. The daily cadence of great leadership seldom feels remarkable.

5 Words You Say Every Day

Small interactions add up. The simplest words prove most useful. In fact they’re tough to over use.

  1. Help – Help is one of the most under-leveraged words in leadership. “How can I best help?” “What help do you need?” “Who else can be helpful?” Just as importantly is asking for help as needed. Being both helpful and helped each day builds genuine connections and does wonders productivity.
  2. Thanks – Not just casual, in passing kind of thanks..but a genuine pause of appreciation. Work to truly thank and appreciate at least one person every day.
  3. Because – It’s easy to assume your team understands your rationale or thinking. What may seem obvious to you often gets lost in translation, particularly if there are a few degrees of separation. “We’re doing this because”, “I need this information because”, “Your work is so important because”, “He was selected for this project because”.
  4. Why – Just as important as explaining the “because” is asking “why?” A curious and kind tone is particularly vital here. “Why do we do it that way?” “Why is this the priority?” “Why are you interested in that new job?” Great leaders ask “why” more than most.
  5. Who – When leaders move too quickly, important “whos” get lost. “Who should we involve?” “Who does this best?” “Who else needs to know?”

Words With Teams: A Simply Insightful Teambuilding Exercise

I’m always looking for ways to keep remote teams connected.  Remote work drives thirst for daily inspiration and touch points.  Sharing words helps.  Words uncover meaning.  Words inform.  Words create community.

I emailed my larger team,

“what’s one word that inspires your leadership?”

Powerful responses within 24 hours, over 40% of my team shared their words with their peers.  Powerful, easy, fun.

Words Provide Insights

Words offered quick insights.  Words revealed values (and therefore what they needed from me).  Joe’s word is “challenge,” I’d  better stretch him.  Sally’s word is “balance,” something may be off.

A Few Highlights

  • Persevere: An excellent leader will persevere despite frustration, exhaustion, discouragement or opposition
  • Navigation: Anyone can steer the boat, but it takes a leader to determine its course. If you know where you are going, others will come on the journey with you
  • Flexibility: It’s important to look at others points of view outside of your own,  or change course when necessary. I think we grow more as an organization and as individuals when we are open to the possibilities
  • Energy: I believe that everyone carries with them a certain “energy” that determines their way of being. It’s not what you do, but how you do it.”
  • Succinct
  • Loyalty:   I believe that loyalty should be at the core of leadership.  You cannot expect a tem to follow your vision if you don’t have loyalty or if they don’t believe their leader is loyal to them.
  • Humor: I try to keep things humorous.  A happy team is a productive team
how do I recognize my employees?

Recognition Power Words: The Phrases that Mean the Most

Twice this year someone has told me “I am proud of you.” Both times, I was surprised to find myself really choked up. My reaction was so strong that I got to thinking about why. I wanted to understand what it was about THIS recognition that made an impact, so I could do a better job of giving THAT kind of recognition to others.

“Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
~Rudyard Kipling

Who: In both circumstances, I had deep respect for the person who said it.

What: What I had accomplished was important to me, and it felt wonderful that others were noticing.

The Words: The words were powerful.

There is something about being recognized at just the right time, by just the right person, with just the right words. When done well, those words can stay with us forever.

And so, inspired by these moments, I reached out my on-line communities of leadership thinkers, coaches and writers and asked:

“What words make the biggest impact when providing recognition?”

I got lots of inspired and heart-felt responses from many people across multiple groups. There is real power in the on-line leadership thinking community. Several leaders weighed in that the most important part is the specific examples, acknowledging the details of the contribution. Others shared the value of a handwritten note that is “simple, timely, and personal.” Several rightfully warned that people are motivated by different things, and trying to project our preferences on others is a mistake.

The most dialogue came from the LinkedIn Organizational Development and Training Forum.

Sara Ting raised the consideration of culture and how that impacts how we want to be recognized, and how we approach recognizing others.

Marian Thier discussed the psychological impact of our words: for example, “I’m proud of you” could connote a parental approval relationship, while “well done” sounds more masculine and non-specific, “like an athletic coach.”

Dayrl Cowie provided possibilities for meaningful words based on personality types:

“Inspiring Personalities (e.g. sales people): “That was awesome”, “I really owe you one” (fun, give & take type words)
Commanding Personalities (e.g. directors): “Nice job” “That’s why you’re the man” (ego, self-esteem)
Supporting Personalities: “Wow everyone loved that” “I really like what you did for everyone” (Everybody loves you)
Analyzing Personalities:”That was brilliant” “How did you do that?” “Way to stand up for what you believe in” (How’d you do that? or, congratulations on moral grounds)”

All fantastic conversation and interesting points.

The majority weighed in with the words and phrases that have meant the most to them, or that they tend to rely on.

I conclude with these words as an offering for this week’s Saturday Salutation.

Recognition Power Phrases

  • I trust you
  • Great idea! Let’s go with it.
  • You have made a significant contribution to ___.
  • You really helped me out
  • You’re a difference maker
  • You are a gem
  • This is one of the best__I’ve seen
  • We could learn a lot from __ about this
  • We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for ___
  • ___ has set a new standard of excellence for us all to strive toward
  • Glad to have you as part of OUR team
  • You are doing exactly what you were meant to do in this life

Words That Stand Alone

  • Excellent
  • Outstanding
  • Inspirational
  • Exceptional
  • Extraordinary
  • Remarkable
  • Natural