Improve Your Leadership Communication Skills by Removing These 3 Words from Your Vocabulary

by | Jul 28, 2015

Business leader hold meeting with his team and tell them situation

Business leader hold meeting with his team and tell them situation

How we communicate and act in the sphere of our employees or team has a significant influence on their outlook and productivity. Improving your leadership communication skills will have a high impact on the people who drive your business or department forward.

The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.

  – Aristotle Onassis

Strong leaders are a special breed. Leaders are winners, driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and an “I can do it” attitude. Their success is often derived from hard work, out-of-the-box thinking, and their unwavering confidence and conviction for getting tasks done.

Trouble is―many mangers confuse conviction with ego and stubbornness; which are two destructive behaviors that work against them to stifle creativity and crush contributing ideas. In fact, according to Marshal Goldsmith, author of “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” leaders have five annoying habits which hold them back:

  1. The need to win all the time
  2. The need to add their two cents worth when presented with an idea
  3. The need to tell others how smart they are.
  4. The need to prove to others that “They already know that”
  5. The need to pass judgment.

Many leaders are determined to persevere and prevail at all costs. They view their determination as confidence and conviction, yet fail to realize the negative impact of their behavior.

Would it surprise you to know that the definition of “stubborn” is exactly the same?

Because the dictionary defines stubborn as: “Unreasonably and obstructively determined to persevere or prevail”.

You see, often, our conviction leads to stubbornness and our stubbornness leads to closed-mindedness, which in turn stifles the very people we are trying to lead.

It’s a common mistake. As leaders we are considered “experts” and as experts we feel that we should know more than anyone else. Sometimes we don’t realize that we could be wrong, or that our way of thinking isn’t the best way or the only way.

As leaders, we are supposed to be the most knowledgeable. So we feel the need to prove that we are right – or smarter – than everyone else. And, we often know so much about a topic or a situation that we stop learning or looking for alternatives.

In his book, Marshall Goldsmith reminded me that our stubbornness usually manifests itself with three tiny words: No, But, and However.

Answer with “No” and you are virtually saying “shut up you’re wrong”… and when you say “but” or “however” you are telling people to just disregard everything you just said.

No wonder people think you’re stubborn.

Think back. How often have you used these words when an employee was making a suggestion or sharing a new idea?

A good leader is not stubborn. They have the dedication and courage to carry out their convictions, as well as the willingness to take a supportive role and nurture and nourish new ideas. Leaders are flexible and open-minded. They realize that they can’t solve every problem on their own, so they listen to others and make the best decisions they can.

Many of the leaders who reach out to me have become entrenched; far too rigid and dictatorial; and their dogmatic attitudes have put their companies at risk. Freeing them from the burden of “having to do it all” has changed lives and turned “at risk businesses” into great successes―knowing when to change a behavior is using wisdom in place of drive.

For example, Steve Jobs (legendary co-founder of Apple) was known to rule with an iron fist, and many employees lived in fear of being publicly humiliated.

Steve Jobs was extremely hardheaded. He died from Pancreatic Cancer at the young age of 56. He shunned the advice of his doctors to undergo surgery when his cancer was first detected. Many believe that it was his stubbornness that cost him his life.

One has to wonder how often those three tiny words: No, But and However were spoken by him.

So be mindful of those words. Remember to use them sparingly, and you will be rewarded with creativity, understanding and the sharing of many great ideas.

Talk to me about your situation:

Executive Offices

100 Pine Street, Suite 1250
San Francisco
California 94111

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