In the world of leadership and management, words matter. When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, I tell participants that the words from a leader are as powerful as individual actions. While not everyone can interact with a person in a leadership position, they can and will hear about what you say, and how you say it.
As Krista Tippett wrote in her book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Penguin Press, 2016: “I take it as an elemental truth of life that words matter. This is so plain that we can ignore it a thousand times a day. The words we use shape how we understand ourselves, how we interpret the world, how we treat others. From Genesis to the aboriginal songlines of Australia, human beings have forever perceived that naming brings the essence of things into being. The ancient rabbis understood books, texts, the very letters of certain words as living, breathing entities. Words make worlds.”
This is a profound and important truth. In the world of leadership and organizational change, words make worlds, because they have the power to shape perception, clarity and perspective.
However in the world of leadership right now, too many people are thinking out loud and not being careful about what they say and how they say it. They forget the old Chinese saying that “the fastest horse can not catch the word once spoken.”
This summer I will be writing about the power and importance of words. In particular, I will be exploring common words that leaders use every day, often with little thought. But for starts, let us remember these important statements:
- Words matter.
- Words shape understanding.
- Words create clarity.
- Words make worlds.
This week, think carefully before you start speaking. It is one of the defining characteristics of great leaders.