I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hurt plenty of times by name calling. There’s no doubt about the fact that a mean word can truly cause physical pain to people.

We text, we tweet, we use emojis, all in an effort to communicate quickly, kind of modern shorthand, making words seem less important, something we are careless with and often quickly discard and forget. But are they really forgotten?

As leaders words are our tools. Theybreathe life into our ideas and motivate people to action. Words are how we win hearts and minds and open doors to change. Used incorrectly, words can also destroy. It can ignite a widespread disaffection in our team members. It can lead to a revolt, silent or violent, and cause people to lose their motivation. When this happens, unproductivity will set in; we all know how many billions of dollars corporations lose annually due to their employees’ unproductivity.

Back to the question, are they (the words we speak) really forgotten? No, a leader’s words have a long-lasting effect as they shape thought patterns, emotions, and experiences. Their influence is enormous. They can stay with those we spoke against for decades, if not forever. Words are like eggs; once broken, it is almost impossible to retract them.

Effective and transformational leaders recognize the impact of their words. Your words can be the differentiator between encouraging success in a person or planting self-doubt and failure in their minds.

I’ve seen my share of leaders over the years, some of whom felt that the best way to influence people was through criticism, threats and negative words. They had the mindset that pushing the extremes makes people respond better, which may be true for some but, I believe, it is often a response out of fear.

On the flip side, there are leaders who are able to influence harmoniously towards exceptional results through encouraging words of affirmation and positivity.

Whether it is to motivate, engage, or build high-performing teams, you should always remember that your words carry a weight of influence. Therefore, choosing to use words wisely is not an option; it is something you must pay serious attention to every time. Kind words promote unity amongst people and have the ability to inspire others to propel change that they aspire to make.

When employees understand that their values are aligned with the organizational vision and mission, they automatically become part of the story. Their shared experience gives them a personal story to tell. Their story becomes an inspiration to others and they become a part of an organization’s narrative. They are no longer observers, but active participants.

Therefore, words of criticism, marginalization, and threats should be replaced with words of encouragement, wisdom and grace. When a true leader speaks, the true intention is not to dictate or control, but to inspire, serve and support the people. It takes humility and heart to be that kind of leader.

Unfortunately, many organizations still have leaders that believe they need to disgrace or put down their employees before they can come to their senses. Such leaders see themselves as dictators in the workplaces and no one is expected to question their attitudes. Instead of having a peaceful working environment, leaders like that sow a seed of acrimony and hatred among all employees. When people work in an area that makes it difficult to be their true selves, they tend to overreact to things. Their morale will be low and their overall productivity will be strikingly affected.

Good leaders understand that they need to make the already difficult work easier for their employees, and they can accomplish this by being nice, accommodating, and encouraging in words.


  1. Can you remember serving under a leader who acted like a dictator in real life?
  2. How did their actions influence your career/job?
  3. What attributes do you think a good leader must have?
  4. Assuming you are a leader, what exactly will you do to motivate and encourage your subordinates?