Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

The Pronouns of Leadership: How to Motivate Employees with Powerful Language Tools

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

The Pronouns of Leadership: How to Motivate Employees with Powerful Language Tools

Article excerpt

As a leader, you have three powerful tools (pronouns) that you can use to motivate your employees, build your team, and bring effective correction to a situation.

These leadership pronouns are "You," "I," and "We." When used correctly, they build the business. But when they are used incorrectly, they will bring cynicism, distrust and apathy to your team. So leaders beware; use these pronouns with care.

Use "You" to motivate (and not demoralize)

"You" can be used when giving credit and praise (i.e. talking about someone else's successes). When singling out an individual for public praise, it is, however, more honoring to use the person's name. Dale Carnegie taught us that nothing sounds sweeter than the sound of hearing one's own name.

When talking one-on-one, leader's use "you" when assigning responsibilities and delegating authority.

But "You" can be a loaded word, and it should not be used to berate or diminish a valued employee. Phrases like "you always ..." or "you never ..." can get you into trouble, unless you are giving credit or thanks.

In our life experiences, "you" too often has preceded a personal label or a perceived attack on our character, perhaps by a parent, teacher, coach or other authority figure. Because of these unfortunate experiences, "you" is a term often challenged by the brain as something to guard carefully against; it can trigger defenses to go up in the minds of your employees.

One of the most frustrating or frightening things for an employee is to have someone in authority (over them) use the term "you" as a finger pointer. Be careful not to use "you" in combination with saying something negative, or less than 100 percent correct or embarrassing about them.

Effective leaders are careful in group meetings to keep their employees feeling safe--and not feeling exposed or vulnerable. …

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