As a leader, you want to be a straight-talker. No sugarcoating, exaggerating or minimizing. But there’s a fine line between straight talk and a toxic tone.
Some seemingly innocent phrases can have a negative impact on everything from morale and productivity to the bottom line.
1) ‘With Our Luck . . .’
This phrase is usually followed by something negative, such as “With our luck, the project will get rejected,” or “With our luck, no one will notice what we’ve done.” It suggests two negative things:
- Outcomes are based on luck, not effort and skill, and
- You and your group always seem to come up short.
Instead, focus on what you will do to achieve the success, no mention of luck.
2) ‘I Don’t Have Time’
The reality is you don’t want to make the time. And that’s actually OK if the request isn’t worth the time you’d have to invest or if someone else is better fitted to fulfill it.
Instead, either explain why other things are more important and require your time or direct them to the person with the time, resources or expertise to handle it.
3) ‘I Paid My Dues’
Managers can’t be above stepping in, learning more or helping employees. By saying this, you suggest a job is menial, which is not what you want employees to think of their work.
Take pride in doing work that contributes to the group’s success.
4) ‘I Have Enough on My Plate’
The best leaders create opportunities, then sprint forward with action. So their plates are almost always full – and almost always will be.
Not to say successful managers shouldn’t ever turn down a request.
A good rule of thumb: Keep room on the plate for requests and opportunities that allow you to take on new challenges that will help you gain skills and build relationships.
5) ‘Just Do It My Way’
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but many managers who’ve been doing their job a long time resign themselves to micromanaging and believing there’s only one, proper way to get things done. This kind of micromanaging drains you and employees.
Instead, give them direction and say, “Can you think of a better way to try this?”
6) ‘I Do Enough Around Here’
Nearly everyone believes he or she goes the extra mile, but far fewer actually do it.
You don’t have to take on every “extra,” but the best managers don’t wait to be asked to do a little more.
Instead, look for situations when a little more – staying late, making a call, doing the research – will benefit the company, your career, employees or customers, and do it.
7) ‘I Have Tons of Experience’
Time on the job doesn’t necessarily equate expertise.
Managers sometimes think that because they’ve been either doing the work or witnessing it the longest, they’re the best. So throwing around their tenure will gain respect.
A better way: Talk about what you’ve actually done – for instance, how many projects you headed that came in under budget and ahead of time to explain why you’re the right person for a job.
Free Leadership Guide
You Can Download
Leadership can come from anywhere. Most often it comes from the ground up, but it can come from any direction. Not just the top down. Need some inspiration, download our free 60–page guide.