Why Ditching Buzzwords Will Make You A Better Leader

If you find yourself wondering how to improve your leadership this year, you might want to take the no-buzzwords approach. Let me explain.

Over the holidays, I took stock of 2016 and tried to determine what I wanted to do in 2017 (and why). While I love the executive coaching aspect of what I do, including being able to work with people to become better leaders, I’ve come to one conclusion: Too much of coaching and leadership training is rooted in buzzwords. We talk about concepts like “mission-driven leadership” or “disruptive HR” or “priority-rooted planning,” but when I go into organizations, I don’t see that resonate in the cubicles and offices. Employees are stressed, they’re overworked, and they want better leaders who define priorities better.

This begot my 2017 focus: a year of no-buzzword leadership. I want to make sure that my leadership guidance continues to achieve specific real-world goals and is straight-shooting, and, most importantly, actionable.

Here’s my No-Buzzword Leadership Manifesto. Eight principles for better leadership.

  • Choose curiosity over fear: When fear is the primary motivator, we infrequently get what we want.
  • Be present and exude presence: There’s been eons of research on this, those with the best presence make everyone else around them feel great. From Muhammed Ali to Dalai Lama, this is a hallmark of developing as a leader.
  • Stop motivating and start listening: You are not a driver of KPIs as much as you think you are; you’re a support network.
  • Respect others every day: This should not be rocket science, but occasionally it appears as if it is. Say hello. Be compassionate. Listen to understand.
  • Command less and coach more: As new generations rise up in the workplace and want different elements from work, command and control will naturally erode. Are you ready for that?
  • Look beyond the numbers: “What’s measured is what matters” is a frequent refrain from the executive suite. Makes perfect sense — but it often leaves a lot of crucially-important soft skills on the table.
  • Advocate for your team (and yourself): Otherwise, why are you leading at all?
  • Hire and fire for character: It’s hard to turn character into a series of metrics, but remember the measure of a (wo)man quote from Martin Luther King? It went: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’

When I first thought along these lines, I kept having The Sunscreen Song pop into my head as a kind of No-BS, Punch-The-Buzzwords-In-The-Throat manifesto. I’m not as creative as Baz Luhrmann, but … the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. So let’s make this your best year ever — no BS. Let’s really do it.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Forbes Coaches Council and contributing author at Forbes.com. The original and extended version of this article can be found at Forbes.com.

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About Lisa Martin, PCC

I help high achievers – people like you – Lead + Live Better™.  I support new and seasoned leaders to gain the clarity and confidence to work more effectively and have more impact. And I equip organizations with leadership development programs which cultivate amazing leaders at every level.

Lisa Martin, PCC

About Lisa Martin, PCC

I help high achievers – people like you – Lead + Live Better™. I support new and seasoned leaders to gain the clarity and confidence to work more effectively and have more impact. And I equip organizations with leadership development programs which cultivate amazing leaders at every level.

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