10 Words Leaders Must Stop Using in 2014


by Tom Wurtz
It’s time to eliminate corporate robots. You know the leaders I’m talking about, those masters of rhetoric who use corporate jargon to try and sound smart. Sadly, it only makes them sound stupid. Don’t be stupid in 2014. Here are 10 words or phrases I will never say again.

1. I’m Just Saying I saw your lips moving and I heard the words coming out of your mouth. You don’t need to end your comments with, “I’m just saying.” Just say what you want to say and skip these 3 words.

2. Empower Empower means, “I want you to do something for me so I’m empowering you. Yes, I have the ability to share my Superman power with mortals for a short period. Go forth and accomplish my task and I will take back my power when you’re done.” “Empower Ranger” leaders are arrogant and condescending.

3. Best Practices According to whom? Who are these geniuses who have found the best way to do something? Do you know their names? I don’t. When leaders say they use “best practices,” doesn’t it imply they have no intention of improving? Why would they? What’s better than best? Companies don’t define best practices. That responsibility belongs to consumers and that decision is made on a daily basis.

4. Corporate Values Corporations don’t have values. People who lead corporations have values or lack values. These “halo statements” and fluffy corporate words do not change anything. Here are several of Enron’s 2001 Corporate Values that I don’t think they really believed: Respect We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Integrity We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it. Excellence We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be. Good grief! Companies are judged by their employees’ actions, not posters and speeches. Let your actions speak for you and your company.

5. Giving 110% You can’t give more than 100%. Stop the theatrics. It makes you sound like a moron. This phrase became popular when egomaniacs tried to differentiate themselves. What if a co-worker says they’ll give 129%? Do you need to top that percent by saying you’ll give 143.51635%? When will this silliness end? Don’t be a phony. Give 100% and be proud of it.

6. Consensus What does consensus mean? I’ve never understood it. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group.” Can you think of any idea shared by all? My family can’t agree on where to go to dinner. It’s code language for lowering standards to appease everyone. Why is that good? Shouldn’t leaders raise standards? Shouldn’t leaders take people to ethical places they initially didn’t want to go and never dreamed they would arrive at? We all know there is no such thing as a consensus. People will always defer to the most powerful person or biggest bully in the room. People reach a consensus when the weak surrender and the powerful get their way and make it sound like everyone agrees with them. There are two sides to every issue – one is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is occupied by sleazy manipulators. Stop the “consensus” game. It’s insulting. If you’re a leader, lead, follow or get out of the way.

7. Buy-In Leaders want you to “buy-in” to an idea they developed without your prior input, but they now want your support because it will make them feel like an enlightened leader. What if a leader has a brilliant idea that will drive revenue and profits, but they can’t get that precious “buy-in” accomplished? What should they do? Should they forget about their great idea? Nope! “Buy-in” is great but not mandatory. If your employees oppose great ideas, find new employees and then implement your ideas.

8. Drill Down Drill down to where? What am I looking for? Am I drilling in the right place? Am I using the right tools? How deep should I drill? Leaders need to ask specific questions in order to receive specific answers. Your job is to make sure you ask the right question and explain how to find the answer.

9. Full or Comprehensive Service What does that mean? We’ll sell you computers and take out your trash? Clients want to know the specifics about your product and why it will profit them. Full or comprehensive service says nothing and means even less.

10. Touch Base Sales reps always want to touch base with you. Sounds like a lawsuit will soon follow. How about, “Is it okay if I call you on Friday at 10 a.m.?” It’s never a good idea to touch someone’s base. These fluffy platitudes sound so enlightened, but they’re only used by superficial leaders. Real leaders use real words. Do you use any of these terms in your personal life? “Son, I would like to drill down on why you received a ‘C’ in U.S. History.” “Kids, I want to get a consensus on whether you should have curfews.” “Dad, I’m going over to my girlfriend’s house to touch base with her.” “Navin, I’m empowering you to take out the trash.” The rule is simple. If you don’t use a word or phase in your personal life, don’t use it at work. People want to interact with authentic leaders, not corporate robots. http://www.TomWurtz.com.