Byron's Babbles

Language Matters!

languageHave you ever had someone call you out for something you said? Have you ever regretted saying something in the way you said it? Have you ever wondered why your team did not understand what you said? Have you ever been offended by something someone said? I think you probably get the idea of where I am going in this post – Language Matters. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Lesson #20 in John M. Manning’s book The Disciplined Leader (2015) deals with choosing the right words. Another way of looking at this is to “think before you speak.”

The truth is, leaders rise and fall by the language they use. Sometimes whole visions live and die on the bases of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision. Using the right message can build champions in your corner. The right words make your ideas and vision memorable and powerful. Additionally, relationships are formed or torn apart by the words chosen. Using the right language and making the implicit explicit gives our stakeholders an insider type language that can bring an entire community of stakeholders together around a change, an idea, or a vision. It’s a battle cry of sorts.img_1643-1

Those I work with will tell you I take a great deal of time constructing how things will be communicated. Sometimes, I have been known to take several days to come up with just the right word or phrase. I want to find just the right way to capture the imagination, reality of context, or lift the spirit of the organization and all stakeholders. I am not suggesting that the time I spend on this is necessarily good – sometimes I am slow to get a message out. We could argue whether this is right or wrong, but I chose to strive to go out with the right thing, not the quickest thing.

kiss-you-wanted-the-best-you-got-the-best(compilation)I still remember being inspired by the battle cry that the greatest rock and roll band ever, in my opinion, KISS, uses: “You wanted the best, you got the best. KISS!” Think about that – I wanted to go to the greatest rock show, and I always got it. Language Matters! But then we also know, we must then Walk the Talk!

Choosing the right words will help us set up everyone we lead for a level of effectiveness that will bolster a culture of excellence and steady it against the winds of change. I remember Gene Simmons talking about how the rallying cry of “You wanted the best, you got the best!” brought the entire Kiss Army together and began the huge following that still exists. Again, language matters!2599949-gene-simmons-kiss-617-409

If your not buying into what I am saying, think about this: KISS was started in 1973 with me as an immediate fan at age 10. Now, in the year I will turn 53, I am recalling the rallying cry of a group I still look to as a leadership example and an individual, Gene Simmons, who is on my personal Mount Rushmore as a leader. The bottom line is that the words you choose really do matter. Leaders must make the investment in time and energy and pay the price for choosing the right words based on the context and stakeholders. When we, as leaders, make this investment, the payoff is of “rock star” proportions.


3 Responses

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  1. Lori Noble said, on February 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I think Paul Stanley is a leader. I believe with him being deaf in 1 ear and it being deformed. Showing people with disabilities are people too, and can hold their heads up. He is my idol because of that. I have bipolar type 2 and some days I don’t want to get out of bed. I get up and put either Monster and play Freak or his Live To Win

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Byron L. Ernest said, on February 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Thank you Lori, for sharing this! I agree with you, this is a band with members who have been an inspiration to many.


  2. […] my blog post Language Matters, I wrote, “I still remember being inspired by the battle cry that the greatest rock and roll […]


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