Whether you like it or not, as a leader your words can really affect your ability to achieve success. Even the smallest of phrases can be detrimental when in a leadership position. Here are 10 phrases that the best leaders never say:
1. I’m the boss – As the boss, you’re automatically an authority figure, you don’t need to tell others. In fact, once you tell people “I’m the boss” you automatically negate it. By implying that it’s your way or the highway, your team will begin to fear you and fail to ask questions or collaborate as a team should. The best leaders are those that are admired and followed because they empower others, not scare them away.
2. That’s not my fault – When things don’t go your way or something hasn’t quite worked out as planned, a leader is able to take responsibility for the team and own it. They don’t throw others under the bus or try to place the blame elsewhere. Leaders are able to absorb a hit, regroup with the team, and strategize what the necessary next steps are.
3. I’ll just do it myself – As a leader you have to be able to delegate tasks. You most likely already have too many things on your plate to keep track of so it’s best to delegate the tasks you know someone else could be assisting you with. If you don’t, you’ll be left trying to accomplish everything and your teammates will be left feeling out of the loop with nothing to contribute.
4. I already know that – No one knows everything and even as a leader you can still continue to learn from others. Great leaders know they aren’t the smartest person in every room they are in, nor do they want to be. They are hungry to learn and remain teachable. By welcoming and valuing your employees’ intelligence and contributions, you make them feel smart and look good. It’s a win-win.
5. That’s not how we do things here – As a leader you’re always looking for a better way things can be done. Just because it was done one way yesterday doesn’t mean that there isn’t a more efficient way to complete that same task today. One of the worst things a leader can tell someone is that that’s not how things are done here. It automatically shows that you’re closed-minded and not open to other approaches. When you’re open to listening to employee’s thoughts, criticisms and creative thinking, your employees will feel more open to share their ideas, knowing that they are actually being considered.
6. This can’t be done – If you continue to tell your team that what they are proposing is impossible and can’t be accomplished they will get the sense that you don’t have confidence in them. Yes, as a leader it’s important to be realistic however you don’t want to stiffen the team’s moral by being a Debbie downer.
7. I don’t care what you want – As a boss you should always care about what your team members and employees want. At the end of the day, these people are working for you and should feel respected. Employees and teammates alike want to be heard and want to know that their boss cares about their opinion. If you’re telling people you don’t care about what they want, how can you expect them to care about what you want?
8. You better not fail – I think we should start out by saying that everyone who has failed at something has learned something else in return. When you tell your team they can’t fail, they might just be too afraid to try or contribute. Instilling fear in employees limits creativity and risk taking. Instead, let your employees know that failure is okay, as long as you’re failing forward and learning. Stumbling blocks along the way can also become building blocks!
9. What were you thinking? – This one goes hand in hand with number eight. If your employees make mistakes, which happens because we are all human, asking them what they were thinking in a harsh or passive aggressive way will cause them to stop trying and instead play it safe. Leaders should try to understand the reasoning behind the decisions that were made, and ensure that the employee can learn from his/her mistakes. Once you place blame, your employees will begin to doubt themselves, which isn’t just bad for you as a boss but can be detrimental to the company as a whole.
10. I don’t have time for this – As a leader you probably feel like you don’t ever have time for anything extra but it’s important to make time, especially for your employees. If you continue to brush your team off and dismiss them, they will eventually stop asking questions and stop seeking your advice. It’s important to schedule a time to answer questions and make yourself available to employees. At the end of the day, you want them to know you’re here for them, to answer questions and provide support whenever it’s needed.