Part of IT By Design’s mission is to provide tangible tips, or tools, that MSPs can implement into their leadership repertoire. Having spent the last five years learning, and being a student of leadership, I would love to share some of those learnings with you. So, this week we’re going to talk about how a vowel can kill your organization.
Remember the saying, “It takes a village”? Well, it’s true. Great organizations are a byproduct of good teams that come together and execute well. It requires strong actions that bring your organization together as one. You can spend all this time and effort building your organization, but nothing will kill it faster than one simple vowel: I.
There is no “I” in team. However, the moment that leaders start using the word “I”, all the rest of the work that they have done to build their team is left to the wayside. A better, more useful word would be “We”. “We built a great presentation”. “We built a great product”. “We built a strong corporate culture”. pronouns when communicating about our organizations is key.
Now you’re probably thinking, “I can’t do this all the time, Kam!” Well, why not? I’m not saying that you can’t ever use the word “I”. What I’m saying is that it should be followed by “team”. Let me give you an example:
If someone asks you, “What do you do for a living?” How would you answer?
I’m a computer engineer or I own a company. Or, you could say, I’m a part of a team that manages network operations for large organizations. Or, we own a company that provides managed services to small and medium-sized businesses.
The moment the word “I” becomes a dominant part of your vocabulary, you slowly start to negatively impact the morale of your team and organization. You won’t even notice it, but others will hear it. Entire conversations can be had where you were talking about all the people you know, or solutions that you’ve brought to the organization, or maybe it’s at home and things that you do. You’ll be surprised how many times you can replace the word “I” with “we”.
I was taught many years ago that “I” is a very lonely place to be. Even if it was your idea, it took a team to make it happen. I don’t think many people realize how important that one vowel can be in building up or breaking down your organization, demotivating a spouse, or impacting your children. It’s not a humble word and often can develop into a habit.
So, what can we do to be more conscious of how we communicate?
Step one is listening to yourself. Sometimes we don’t even realize when we use certain words. Challenge yourself; do your 30-second elevator pitch. We all go to parties and people ask us what we do, record yourself and then listen to it. There is value to listening to our own words, picking up on our own nuances, and understanding where there are opportunities to improve how we communicate.
I remember many years ago this was brought to my attention by a team member. At the time, I didn’t understand how impactful the one word was. The moment I learned to change that one word to “we”, I immediately started to become a more intentional communicator and leader. I use my own example because we’ve all been through it. It doesn’t make us bad people, sometimes we forget. We all fall into lapses; where we’re not conscious of the words that we’re using.
Leadership is a habit, it’s food for your soul, and it requires daily nourishment. I’m honest enough with myself (and you) to tell you that I wasn’t the greatest leader years ago. But over the past five years, I have been nourishing my mind and learning how to be both a better communicator and leader.
One book I’d highly recommend about equipping other people is The Leaders Greatest Return by John Maxwell. It’s about how we take our vision from “ME” to “WE”.
The difference between a good leader and a great leader is often as simple as ONE vowel. Being conscious of how we communicate is just as important as our actions. Great leaders know their words matter and changing the simple “I” to “we”, is an easy way to start making an impact.
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