When you’re the leader, the one in charge, it’s far more natural – and far easier – to lecture and command than to discuss and invite. Leaders can create caste systems within their organizations simply by language choices. When they refer to “we” as the leadership team and “you” as the employees, they create a separation in the team. If we want our people to feel like they are in a partnership with us, that we are in it together, that we are locking arms with them to accomplish the overall goal of organizational success, then we need to communicate in a way that creates partnership.
The ultimate partner phrase is: “If I, will you …”
“If I set aside time to help fine tune your board presentations, will you have it prepared by Friday to review?”
“If I let you choose your people, will you head up the project?”
“If I call XYZ Company and set up an appointment, will you prepare the background research to present to them?”
By saying “If I, will you…” you are extending an invitation. It is a commitment on your part that naturally creates a commitment from the person you are addressing. It is not condescending, commanding or sharp. It is open, inviting and generates a feeling that we are in it together.
Learn to adopt this partnership phrase and not only will your communication feel more conversational, your people will feel included and respond with commitment.