“I” Before “We”…Except When We Lead (Language Of Leadership)

“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”  -Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Language is a life driver.  Driving the core of each and every person on this earth.  It is as vital to our lives as the air we breath.  Serving as the nucleus of our communication, collaboration, and learning.  It is how we express our feelings, convey our wants, our needs…

Our language can profess a higher motive…or expose an underlying agenda.  It can create motivation…or steal away enthusiasm.  Language can enlist believers in a vision towards a better future…or detractors to even next steps.  Language not only drives our human need to connect and communicate…it drives our ability to lead.

Some wield it to proclaim and assert their authority…while others gain influence simply through the words they speak and share.  Some see the language of communication as a gong they are constantly clanging and hammering, with a be first and loudest approach…while, for others it best served last, after all other voices have been heard and considered.

Language is how we convey meaning – from our innermost thoughts and feelings – to driving the attitude and culture of our families, teams, institutions, organizations, and society as a whole.

Whether straightforward in delivery, or as a story, a parable, or a proverb…how we communicate drives our ability to lead others.

Language and communication can either transform or impair, creating slow decay throughout our organizations.  Clarity or chaos.  Certainty or ambiguity.  The day-to-day discourse of our people expresses the underlying tone and demeanor we create within our organizations.  The alignment and coherence found at all levels of the system can very well be determined by listening to those very same day-to-day conversations.

Providing the necessity and the why of leaders being attuned and aware of their own words and the discourse of the organization…

Poor use and utilization of language can serve as a detriment, often isolating leaders from the collaborative processes and relationships that create unity within their teams, institutions, and organizations.  Leadership cannot serve as an island to itself.  If it is to last…

Leadership remains founded in the practice and process of creating connections and building relationships…for which our language and communication will always serve as a main driver.

When we lose our sense of others, of connection, and relationships – we have lost the true essence and purpose of leadership…serving others.  When words like “I” and “me” overwhelm “us” and “we”…we have a front-row seat to the oncoming shipwreck.  A shipwreck that will leave that leader a stranded castaway…deserted and isolated in their influence, serving as an island to themselves.

It is said that the plural of “I” is said to be…”we”.  Leadership that serves others is constantly about moving from the service of “me” to the service of “us” and from the idea of the singular to the plural.  True, authentic leaders serve in and for the growth of others, rather than in benefit of themselves.  And that service attitude begins with our language, our discourse…which relays our true motives.

Which is why great leaders understand that “I” never goes before “we”…

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2 thoughts on ““I” Before “We”…Except When We Lead (Language Of Leadership)

  1. This is a very important lesson to learn. I like the phrase, I before we before we lead. Leaders can’t lead unless their language reflects guiding others. After all, I can’t do anything to improve a campus, but together we can. Great job.

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