24 Oct 2016 17:15 IST

14 words all leaders should use

Here’s a simplified view on what leadership should be like

In my practice, I help leaders become more inspiring and engaging so their people deliver the best, and their performance becomes sustainable.

Leadership is a deep subject, and understanding and developing it takes time. It is who you are as much as what you do. Most leadership literatures have explained the roles and deliverables of leaders, and even as aspirants and leaders themselves recognise the intricacies of leading effectively, I am often asked to simplify and help understand how effective managers behave.

Over time, I realised that even though my view of simplified leadership is incomplete, those who followed the formula I prescribed reported significant improvement in their ability to lead and motivate.

My message revolves around explaining leadership with a vocabulary that has just 14 words. These are helpful, especially for beginners who wish to shape well as leaders and need a simple foundation to build their leadership muscle.

I am proud of you!

These are the most powerful words that leaders can use to motivate their teams. Obviously, they have to be said with utmost sincerity and warmth — it cannot be a case of either lip sympathy or, worse, said with a view to manipulate people to follow.

Since leaders are constantly under surveillance for their behaviours, people will know if these words are coming from the heart or if it is mere lip service. There are many opportunities that come up every day, where leaders can offer these genuine words of encouragement.

Appreciation has consistently been regarded as the most valuable motivation tool by people in every culture and organisation. Yet, leaders score low on this every time an organisation checks the same.

What is your opinion?

These are the next best four words that leaders must frequently express. Asking people about their opinion is actually a tall task for leaders, considering how the traditional view of being a know-it-all leader comes in the way.

When leaders assume that they have all the answers and therefore, do not entertain or seek opinions from people they work with, it has two consequences. First, leaders suffer from poor judgments. Second, it leaves the followers completely de-motivated.

Will you please?

These three words truly carry a lot of magic. When leaders approach their people for getting things done using “will you please?”, a lot more gets done than when they issue orders. Politeness is a rare quality amongst leaders, as we often experience first hand.

However, humility is the single most powerful tool that leaders have at their disposal to create an engaged team that is willing to go beyond the call of duty.

When politeness is absent and leaders demand, all they get is malicious obedience, not heart-felt commitment or creative excitement.

In today’s economy, companies succeed only when employees create the right experience for their customers. And this is possible only when leaders harness people’s passion, which they either give out or hold back based on their assessment of the leader they are working for.

Thank you

These may seem like just “two words”, but are very powerful. It is how we express our gratitude to people. We often complain that colleagues and subordinates exhibit a mindset of ‘entitlement’. But if you reflect honestly, it is leaders who often have a tendency of taking the contributions of people for granted. As a result, appreciation and gratitude are in short supply.

Leaders often wonder why people are less engaged and less committed. To get an answer, all they need to do is examine their vocabulary. And realise how powerful these 14 powerful words are, when used sincerity.