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The Language of Leadership The words that define your leadership presence By Colin T. McLetchie “Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.” - Jodi Picoult Language and words have power. We know this. We’ve known this ever since language was invented. As children, we learn how much power they have, especially to hurt. We teach children the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” because we want to give them the ability to be resilient in the face of hurtful words. Leaders who become keenly aware of their use of language can enhance their presence and followership in powerful ways. Realize for a moment that humans are the only creatures on our planet that use words to communicate. While other creatures have “language,” they do not have the ability to use words to collaborate, to create their realities, to partner together to achieve goals and outcomes. It is unique to the human experience to use words and language – spoken and written – to conduct business, to communicate affection or derision, to experience the fullness of life. And ultimately, to build up or to tear down! As leaders, this means we have a real responsibility to be conscious of our language and its impact. Susan Scott in “Fierce Conversations” talks about how our presence impacts the people we lead and with whom we interact. As she puts it, “An emotional wake is what you remember after I’m gone.  What you feel - “the aftermath, aftertaste, or afterglow!” A big part of our leadership presence rests in the words we choose to convey meaning, to engage others, to communicate a vision and light passion in people’s hearts and minds. 49 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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