Today, let’s take a look at what a leaders’ words should be, rather than what they should not be.
People are often placed in a position of authority because they have certain natural tendencies. They are more dominant in social settings. They are more assertive than their pensive peers. They are the first to in a group to articulate their ideas. These dominant types are quicker to defend their ideas regardless of whether their idea is the better idea. They are marked more by vocality than by action.
These are qualities that can get a person noticed in a competitive job pool, so they end up in middle management or other forms of leadership.
To be clear, these are not necessarily bad qualities. But like all strengths, when they are out of balance, they become weaknesses.
Those strengths transform into liabilities when dominant personalities use them as a crutch to maintain authority and to camouflage a lack of other skills.
But fortunately, the Proverbs gives us excellent help for how to balance these characteristics.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
The words of a wise leader bring healing.
The word “healing” implies there is a wound. There is hurt. There is sadness. There is anxiety.
The words of a wise leader are marked more by alleviating those things than by causing them.
Would your team say that your words heal them? Do your words calm anxiety? Do your words make your employees happy? Do your words act to repair the hurts on your team?
The wise author of Proverbs gives some specific ways a leader can use her words for a positive force. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:25-26)
Use affirming words that fight anxiety. Don’t use words that lead people astray. This is excellent truth for those who want to foster healthy teams.
Here’s the upside down idea for business: Wise leaders use words that heal, guide, and bring gladness.
Heal with wise speech. Guide with clear communication. Bring gladness with good words.
Don’t let your fear of losing control manifest as harshness, impatience and intolerance.
Don’t let your crutch in times of crisis be cockiness and an oppressive management style.
A leader should be at her best when the chips are down. And her team will be more productive because they will be happier and healthier.