I want you to try a 3 second exercise with me. Here we go: say something, any phrase will do...
...now try to take those words back.
Could you do it? No?
As leaders we say many things each day. Our colleagues, teams and customers listen closely to those words. They search for honesty, hidden meanings, subtle cues, or downright strong words that motivate them to take action.
Words are powerful...they inspire, motivate, encourage, develop, betray and a host of other things. Think of the last important meeting you had with your supervisor or group of colleagues. How did you feel as you walked out of the room? Did you feel supported, lied to, or set up? Your teams feel the exact same way depending on how you conduct yourself when you have one of those meetings with them.
Words matter. Integrity matters. The truth matters.
There are another set of messages that can be just as powerful as the spoken word. It's the look. You know what I mean. That glance during a meeting. A signal that says, "well done" or conversely "that makes no sense."
Have you used this powerful leadership tool?
Non-verbal messages sometimes are much louder than the spoken word. Consider the weight of silence when an employee is clearly not understanding the magnitude of the work they need to accomplish, and you ask a direct question...
...and wait some more.
You don't let them off the hook. If you don't think silence is powerful, try staring at someone for 5 seconds without breaking your stare. It is very powerful, and effective, and can often make the point better than any words you could dig out of a thesaurus.
But be warned.
Make sure you have your facts straight before you start accusing your colleagues or team members...because when you're wrong, your credibility as a leader is permanently gone. No one follows the ill-informed CYA-style leader.
How About You
Do you appreciate the impact you have on the workplace? What about your team? Are you so caught up in "your" work that you carelessly toss around strong words and glares simply to protect your own self-interest?
Be intentional in your words and actions. As leaders, our moves must have an agenda based on integrity and truth...otherwise, we are simply an embarrassing failure that all can plainly see.
I'd love to hear from you.