Top-Shelf Tip No. 76:

"Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence."

Sheryl Sandberg

12 Phrases Leaders Shouldn’t Ever Say

The words leaders speak have the power to build others up and break them down. While everyone has leadership blind spots, sometimes even the most intelligent leaders make unwise comments and then are surprised when they don't get the results they expected.

Lolly Daskal, president and CEO of Lead From Within, says there are 12 common phrases leaders should ban from their vocabulary if they want their words to have a positive impact on others. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Daskal's recommendations on what not to say.

1. "Do it my way." If you hire a group of talented individuals to use their skills and expertise to perform a job, then tell them how to do it, you only alienate and disempower them.

2. "That will never happen." Daskal says that using the word "never" closes a door and makes leaders sound unprofessional and limited. Nothing is impossible—there are always opportunities and options.

3. "Do you know what I mean?" It's always important to make sure you're connecting with people and that everyone's on the same page. However, leaders must do so in a way that isn't condescending and annoying.

4. "It's none of your business." Anything that pertains to the project or to the team is everyone's business.

5. "That was my idea." As a team, you do things together to accomplish great things. Focusing on individuals—especially yourself—is inappropriate on a team project where the goal is a collective accomplishment and result.

6. "You're doing it wrong." There are many ways to tell people if they're moving off track. Daskal says leaders must remember that people do things in different ways, so they may just be taking a different approach. If you think someone is in error, start a dialogue instead of making pronouncements.

7. "Before you say that, let me tell you …" Why would you want to shut people down or tell them not to speak? Communication is key to great teamwork, and you want to encourage people to express themselves. Listen before you speak.

8. "I already knew that." Even if it's true, listen again. Maybe this time you'll learn something new.

9. "Because I said so." This phrase, the hallmark of halfhearted parenting, will make people roll their eyes and lose all respect for your leadership.

10. "You must have misunderstood." Misunderstandings happen, but it's unprofessional and disrespectful to assume that a miscommunication was entirely the other person's fault. You don't want to make people feel they're not smart enough to understand what you want from them.

11. "What's in it for me?" This phrase shouldn't even be in a leader's vocabulary. A team is a collective, and what happens to one happens to all.

12. "I'm the boss." Your team knows you're the boss. You wouldn't have to remind them if you acted like their boss—by letting them do their job, empowering them, supporting them and helping them develop.

We all sometimes say things without being aware of the potential impact. However, when you're in a leadership position, it's critical that you think before you speak.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Lolly Daskal is the president and CEO of Lead From Within, a global consultancy that specializes in leadership and entrepreneurial development. Daskal's programs galvanize clients into achieving their best, helping them accelerate and deliver on their professional goals and business objectives.

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