Words to lead by

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey G. Hall
  • 45th Launch Group Superintendent
There is some debate over what is officially the longest word in the English language. For the purpose of this commentary, let's use: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis; a medical term defined as a lung disease caused by inhaling fine ash or sand dust. The word is a 45-character, 19-syllable term, and undoubtedly has meaning and purpose within the medical community. However, with the exception of trivia and tongue-twisting, it may have little meaning or usage for many of us.

There is no question; however, that the shortest words in the English language are "A" and "I". Both represent individualism and singularity, and by large magnitudes are likely to be used in nearly any profession or social setting.

For now, let's forget "A" and focus on "I". If you believe big things come in small packages, consider the distinct message you deliver with the use of this simple word. For example, used in the context of personal gratitude it can inspire or reciprocate. Conversely, in the context of celebrating accomplishments or successes, it can be detrimental to workplace harmony.

Stanford University Management Science and Engineering Professor, Robert Sutton, described two types of business "jerks". Those who demean and de-motivate, and those who put their needs ahead of their organizations.

Coincidentally, among the English language's shortest words are two of the most powerful ones, true successful leaders use regularly, "We" and "Us".

Team-building and productivity are directly correlated and universally desired.

Across a wide range of professions, I am not aware of any more appropriate words that will help ambitious leaders convert their visions to desired end states more effectively. In fact, it's challenging to think of any leadership scenarios where either of them carry negative connotations. Workers at all levels want to know their contributions are valued, and want a sense of unity within their organizations.

There was a time when "a few choice words" was thought to be an effective leadership approach. By all rights it still is, but in today's work environment, a few simple, choice words can speak volumes and factor heavily into your success or failure as a leader.