Breaking the Leadership Language Barrier - Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC
June 28, 2017
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languageLeadership language often uses buzz-words, jargon, and acronyms in both internal and external messaging. This lingo fails to clearly articulate what we intend to say. In some cases, specialized language may actually obscure the truth (hopefully not the intended purpose). Leaders should never make it hard for employees, customers, and vendors to understand what is happening or how to deal with it.

Why is it so tempting for leaders to adopt “corporate speak” instead of engaging in simple truth telling that is clear and compelling?

Perhaps it’s because using this language can give leaders a sense of power and authority. It separates them from their followers. It implies that only the educated and experienced understand the complexities of running an organization.

Followers know differently. Their water cooler conversation is more honest. “Doesn’t the boss understand we are hurting here?” “‘Voluntary cutbacks’ mean my job is in jeopardy or my pay will shrink.” “Why can’t she just tell us what is going to happen?” Common sense language cuts through uncertainty and helps employees know how to respond.

Every conversation includes an emotional component. A speech or memo filled with corporate gobbledygook may leave listeners and readers anxious, confused or simply angry. Leaders pay a price when they ignore the human side of relationships.

The Ragan Report, a leading communicator’s magazine, suggests learning to talk at work in the same way you speak with your family. Would you tell your wife, “I love how you leverage our budget to buy groceries each week?” Would you advise your child that, “Studying hard is one of your core competencies?” Sounds ridiculous, right?

This week, try to break the leadership language barrier by reducing or eliminating corporate or industry jargon from your workplace conversations. You may be surprised to learn that your employees and customers will tell you things you didn’t know.

Now that’s some “out of the box,” “off the wall,” “innovative thinking” that will “challenge assumptions,” “redefine priorities,” and “facilitate transformative inter-departmental behavior.” Don’t you agree?

Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy!

Ken Byler

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