Leaders Speak Differently – Speak Like a Leader

Leaders command a presence

Leaders command a presence when they walk into a room. Is it the title they hold? Maybe? There are some people who command a room and don’t have a title.  Leaders hold themselves differently, they speak differently, and they act differently.

What makes someone sound like a leader?

A key part of being seen as a leader, is to sound like a leader.


Pay attention to subtle differences in language and choose their words carefully. They are tuned into using emotionally intelligent language to encourage conversations, rather than shut them down. This type of language exudes leadership because it is positive, empowering and solution oriented.

Use emotionally intelligent language. Instead of “why did you do that?” they say, “tell me what happened.” they replace “no, but…” with “yes, and…” And “we can’t …” with “what if…”

Decide what goal and emotion to tap into. This will determine word choices. Let’s say you want to motivate, your choice of words may focus on emotions that evoke ambition and pride. Here is an example of Bill Gates and his style of leadership. He knew his team would be facing long, hard days ahead to improve and produce products. He chose his words carefully to inspire specific emotional reactions among team members. He said, “The reason you’re here is because you’re amazing.”  Simple words that evoked ambition and pride.

Connect emotionally. Leaders inspire others, by connecting emotionally with them to make them feel valued, collaborative, and trusted partners in achieving goals.  Examples of classic leaders with the ability to tap into emotions that inspire, include Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his speech “I have a dream” or, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” These speeches have stood the test of time because of how they connected their objectives with the hearts of ordinary people. They made ordinary people feel a part of a bigger dream.

Are precise in their communications. They get to the point and resist the temptation to give too much detail. They keep their key message to 10 words or less, otherwise it isn’t ready to share.  This means, knowing the communication goal and deciding what actions the audience needs to take. 

Are strategic. They give the “why” behind their expectations. They link the project or work back to the bigger goals of the organization. They provide the context for better understanding and outcomes. For example, leaders will say, “here’s the situation,” “here’s the plan.” People want to know what’s going on, and how their work fits into an overall objective and strategy. If they aren’t told, they will fill in the gaps of their understanding with conjecture. So, emotionally intelligent leaders don’t leave gaps, they give the reason behind decisions.

Speak to encourage; look for solutions and innovate.  Negative, critical or complaining speech will hurt efforts to be an effective leader and will hurt the leader’s personal brand and reputation.  

Use the rule of threes. This is used to convince people of something, break down the message into three points: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Why? Because it makes it sound more compelling, more convincing, and more credible. This can be applied to email, presentations, meetings. Also, three is an easy number of points to remember.

Tell stories. Why? Because stories give facts meaning. When leaders tell stories, they invite the listener to join the journey and where the story takes them.  

 Emotionally Intelligent language tips:


SayInstead of
Let’s figure out how to fix thisYou need to fix this
What do you think we should do?What are you going to do?
What is the best way to resolve this?Who’s responsible for this?
Have you tried this approach?You’re doing it wrong
Help me understand your thinking“I wouldn’t do that
We need to do betterThat’s not good enough
How can I helpDo you need help?
Why don’t we try…I don’t think you should
Well done! Thank youIt’s about time


Use weasel words or phrases: “To the best of my knowledge; I could be wrong; If I recall correctly; As far as I know; This may not be a good idea, but; maybe; sort of; kind of; somewhat; um; and, uh.” These words do not make you look or sound confident or prepared.  Women use these words or phrases more than men. They are filler and not precise communication. If you need time to think about what you are going to say next, then take a pause. Use these words and you will lose your audience. They will become focused on the words and stop listening to what you are saying.

Use jargon or obscure references. You will lose your audience and come across as arrogant.

Go into detail. Keep the information at a basic level for decision makers to understand and make a decision without too much detail.


Whether you work in an organization, are a community leader, or a parent, people are watching you all the time. They are evaluating you as a leader. How do you speak?  Can others understand you?  Are you a positive communicator or a negative one?  Do your words invite or deter?

You can learn to be a better communicator through practice. Watch what you say and how you say it. Emotionally intelligent language can be learned.  Be aware of the impact of your words.  

The leadership mindset is what helps you get what you want out of life. Leadership is a work in progress. It is complex and considers the whole person; their character, body language, attitude, speech, writing and so on. Leadership and communication are areas of constant learning and growth. No one gets it right all the time, the goal is to keep learning, improving and moving towards your goal.

If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.

Jim Rohn

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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