Speaking the Leadership Language

Speaking the Leadership Language

Whatever leadership role you have, speaking the leadership language is vital. We have just completed delivering two sessions of a bespoke course, Language of Leadership, in Germany. The aim was to enable European middle managers of a global company to gain maximum credibility in leading their teams; inspire and convey their vision and values; and gain commitment to achieving the required business results. As always, it has been a fascinating process working with different cultures and ideas.

One great aspect of being a trainer is that you never stop learning and you never know what a fresh group of people will bring to the table. In summing up what we had discussed, it became apparent that there are three key aspects to the leadership language. These are Integrity, Impact and Inspiration.


Robert Swan, Polar Explorer, says: ‘You cannot put integrity on your business card until you’ve earned it.’ You may have your own interpretation of this word.  Integrity is banded about as a value of key importance, but how often do we take the time to define what it really means on a daily basis? My favourite definition comes from author, Iyanla Vanzant.

At all times, under all circumstances, every individual must shoulder full responsibility for telling other people exactly how they feel, what they need, what they know, and who they are.

A leader needs to establish credibility, because, according to Kouzes and Posner, if people do not believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message. In the current climate, cynicism is high as integrity seems to be in short supply. We only need to consider FIFA, VW, IAFA, Enron, banking scams, etc……

If integrity is important to you and your business, then I believe it is vital to have open discussions about what it means, how people can demonstrate it; and how they will be held accountable for it.

One of the delegates, when defining expected behaviours of integrity, accidentally wrote ‘work the talk’ instead of ‘walk the talk’. I think this is a brilliant slip. Integrity is something that you have to work at every day; and that is no walk in the park!

How could you work on improving your integrity on a daily basis?


If your message is important enough to deliver, then it is vitally important that it is remembered by your audience. Impact requires your message to be “striking – have strong effect/influence – to be pressed or fixed firmly”

There are many ways in which you can ensure greater impact with your message, whether it is one to one’s, team briefings or business meetings. The energy, focus and openness you bring to your delivery will influence this. Having humour or fun makes a huge difference to the energy levels and the enjoyment of learning.

The delegates identified how to have greater impact by:

  • Use passion and energy in delivering your message.
  • Have clear, concise communication.
  • Make it punchy – use pauses.
  • Have a strong, attention-grabbing start – set the scene and expectations.
  • Use examples, stories and humour that relate to your message.
  • Have a strong ending with a call to action.
  • Involve people by using questions, eye contact, praise, and recognition.
  • Alter your style of delivery to engage differences in your audience.
  • Avoid being monotone by use of a variety of vocal pitch, tone and pace.
  • Use good body language – hand gestures, facial expression, and movement.

These skills can be learnt. If you can’t attend a course; then you may like to join a Toastmasters International Club or watch great speakers on TED Talks.

How could you bring more impact into your leadership message?


A key expectation of a leader is to be inspiring. This means creating a WOW factor that makes people want to believe and take action from your message. Inspirational leadership can be related to the quality of the followers. This is a two way street; just like trust and respect.

Being a trainer is a leadership role in itself. You are looking to inspire others to their best efforts.  I found that having very high calibre participants on my course inspired me to raise my game. Seeing the way the delegates improved over the two days was also inspiring for everyone; as it confirmed that what we talked about does work.

The delegates proposed the following actions they would take to be more inspirational:

  • Show your respect for your audience by preparing well and having a clear purpose.
  • Demonstrate integrity to build credibility and trust.
  • Have the courage to use new ways to deliver your message and be innovative.
  • Use passion rather than PowerPoint.
  • Use real examples that people can relate to.
  • Celebrate success whenever possible
  • Be empathic and pay more attention to how things are done rather than just on results.
  • Finish with a strong conclusion or call to action based on your key purpose to inspire.

What will you do with your leadership language to inspire your team more?

Share with us how you bring more integrity, impact and inspiration into your leadership language.

“EXCELLENT training. I have been on many leadership courses in my career and I must say this was one of the best that covered many areas of leadership skills and competencies. It gave me good tools to understand how to work with direct reports, peers and other partners better; and improve my personal skills.”   JL, Finland



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