The mark of an effective leader is the ability to bring clarity into an otherwise cloudy or unclear situation.
But without realizing it, leaders will sometimes inject even more confusion by making statements that are spoken on an almost daily basis.
Be aware of these common leadership statements, understand why they infuse so much confusion into your team, and then eradicate them from your vocabulary…
1. “At this time”
This classic leadership trope is usually uttered as a benign way of hedging one’s bets. It’s a way that insecure leaders will try to cover all of their bases, so as to avoid sounding too committed and to giving them a way out.
For example, when rumors of layoffs begin to swirl in an organization, it won’t be long before someone speaks up in a staff meeting and asks the leader, “Are there going to be layoffs?”
“No,” the leader might reply. “Not at this time.”
So, does this mean there will be layoffs tomorrow?
As soon as this phrase is uttered, the confusion factor on the team increases dramatically.
2. “As soon as possible”
“Can you bring me an update report? I need it as soon as possible.”
Two weeks later, the leader who uttered this common statement is incensed that the report is not on his desk.
“I thought I asked you to get me that report as soon as possible!” they will growl.
“Yes,” will reply the person with the assignment. “This is as soon as possible…”
“But I wanted it last week…” You can see where the confusion grows.
Bottom line; the phrase, “As soon as possible” is open to wildly varying degrees of interpretation. If you want the report by noon Thursday, say so.
3. “You need to improve”
It is leadership malpractice to inform a member of the team that “You need to improve”, without painting a vivid picture as to what such improvement looks like.
Which parts of the performance need to improve? By how much? By when?
Any valued team member will want to meet the leader’s expectations. It’s up to the leader to clarify what those expectations are.
Effective leaders must shine the light of clarity into every situation.
The day you eradicate these statements from your vocabulary will be the day your clarifying light begins to shine a bit brighter.