September 2014
In This Issue
The language of leadership.
Executive Presence 2015
Free Podcasts: At the Heart of the Matter
The language of leadership     (1 of 3 articles on leadership language)

Three little words you, we, and I


What's in a word?

Remember research from Dr Albert Mehrabian from UCLA in the  1960's? Mehrablan identified that the power and effect of any communication came from:

Words 7%
body language 55%
Emotional tone 38%

Accurate or not, Mehrablan's research provides food for thought. One implication is while words are 7% of any communication, each of those words is likely to be important. the emotional tone you communicate is important, as is body language.  


In this article, I want to identify specific words and phrases which differentiate you as a leader. I want to show you words and phrases you can use to ensure you are not faceless, that you are leading and engaging with those around you.


In this past month, I have become acutely aware of the effect of language leaders use - both in coaching leaders and in the Executive Presence programme.


I have discovered using 'we', 'you' and 'I' places you on a continuum of being either the invisible or faceless executive, the collaborative colleague, or the differentiated and engaged leader.


The interpersonal language of leadership engagement

Just this week, Jim came to see me. He was heading into a performance discussion with one of his team. Jim had done a lot of background work, sought feedback and reflected on his own observations experience with this manager and his team. He had written his comments relating to various objectives and he wanted my perspective on how clear his message was.


He read: 'you need to lead your team more, you need to keep them better informed, and you need to coach each team member'. All valid comments.


However I imagined the recipient may have felt criticised and judged with his approach. I noticed Jim' own perspective on how this manager was working, was absent.  I asked Jim how he might include his perspective on what he wanted the manager to develop.  He began. I need you to lead your team more, I need you to keep them better informed.... When I heard this, I sensed Jim was a bit desperate and frustrated. I asked him if this was the case. Yes he said. I can see what he needs to do. How on earth do I communicate that?


I noticed Jim's emotional tone was negative. He sounded pressured.  I repeated back to him -  I need you to,...... then asked, what does that sound like?


It sounds as though what I am asking is a requirement, and I sound as if what he does will benefit me in some way and it sounds there will be consequences if he doesnt do this.


How on earth do I shift the ownership to my team member?  Jim continued 'I want him to succeed. I want him to be far more effective with his team.


 Jim had worked out what how he might inspire his team member to develop his abilities. He practiced with me...... 


I want you to be a more effective leader. I want you to actively lead your team; I want you to keep them well informed of the bigger context and what is going on, and I want you to actively coach each team member to develop their abilities.


Where he had written  'you should delegate more, and you should set priorities' he shifted this to......


I want you to delegate more, and I want you to set priorities and work to these. We reflected together. By using I rather than you in these examples and want, rather than need, Jim was owning both the direction and shifting the action to his team member by describing the results he wanted.


Jim had shifted his language to be inviting and inspiring rather than demanding. Jim sounded more engaged with his team member. His emotional tone was positive. My sense was the recipient was less likely to feel judged or criticized and more likely to feel inspired to develop his abilities.


What is your experience when you hear these three directions?

You need to practice I statements this week

I need you to practice I statements this week

I want you to practice I statements this week


Which of these directions leave you free to act?


To ensure leadership language is a natural part of your identity, contact Diana 

Executive Presence 2015: 

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What participants are saying...
Tailored for individuals but working as a group Diana expertly guides senior executives through the highs and lows of leadership. 
Experiential learning is the key to embedding new ideas and behaviours. I highly recommend this workshop to all current and aspiring leaders. LH 
Executive Presence has had the biggest impact on how I lead and influence outside my line, of anything I've done in years' MS

Working with others facing similar professional challenges and with Diana's skillful guidance, the programme was a safe way to examine and shift the way I interact with others.  CD 

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom - Viktor Frankl 


Executive Presence is not a skill or a tool. Your Presence is how others perceive you and how they experience being with you. Talk with Diana to discuss your options in developing the presence and impact you now want to have. 
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