Words. Few things are more powerful. They can build up, and just as quickly destroy, a relationship.
And the last time I checked, leadership is about relationships.
The power of words is perhaps best summarized by a little verse from the Bible. It is found in Proverbs 18:21 (MSG). It reads, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Only 12 words, but they say it all.
Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was clueless.
According to the Creator, words have the power to kill.
As a leader your words are like bullets in a gun. Once they are fired, they cannot be taken back. Squirt!
There are several ways leaders can loose their integrity when it comes to words.
1. Negative words – Two of my least favorite words are, “I can’t.” I hate it when someone tells me why we can’t do something. Leaders find a way, and the best ones are positive.
2. Critical words – Words that tear down are like darts. Too often they are spoken about a teammate who isn’t even present. Most of the time when people are critical it is because they are insecure.
3. Profane words – Some people can’t speak without using profanity. Crude language shows a lack of thought and respect.
4. Arrogant words – Perhaps the most dangerous type of words are the prideful ones. People who are puffed up in their speech are more about “me” than “we.” Beware of someone who only wants to talk about himself.
5. Idle words – Have you every met anyone who likes to run his mouth? Blah! Blah! Blah! Make sure your words are intentional and meaningful. Don’t waste words!
6. Gossip words – Nothing kills an organization like gossip. Be sure if someone will talk to you about someone else, they will talk about you behind your back.
7. Unspoken words – Some of the worst words are the ones never spoken. If your words really can give life, you ought to be liberal in your use of positive, uplifting, encouraging words that build up the people around you.
Watch your words! They can be poison if you use the wrong ones, but fruit if you choose the right ones. The good news is . . . the choice is yours.
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.