Leadership Distinction #20: Language

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Leadership Distinction #20: Language

Speak into the world what you seek from the world

We all use language to describe the world around us. Leaders use this descriptive language, too. Except they use it to describe a future world, to inspire others to join them in creating that future. When the leader attempts to speak this new world into being, descriptive languagebecomes generative Language.

Philosophers John Searle and JL Austin have opened our awareness to this additional, powerful dimension of language. And what a boost to leading this awareness is. You see, generative language closes the gap between talk and action. It is talk, yes, but it is also action.

The language that we speak helps us to understand our minds – because we think in language. And so our speech cannot help but reveal our thinking. For this reason leaders are wise to listen closely to their own language, the language they use with others. Is it the generative type of language a follower is listening for, sufficient to warrant giving their assent to your appeal?

A would-be leader takes creative Action in the recruitment of followers. In your leadership position, when you apply this language awareness to your discourse with followers you may gauge whether people in the organization are merely complying with your authority or are demonstrating, by word and by deed, that your generative language has gained their commitment. That your action is now morphing into their action.

When we recognize our language as being no less than action in the world, and when we actively listen to the world’s response to our language, we are wielding the power tools of generative expression. And speaking into being the better tomorrow we seek.

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