Posts Tagged ‘leading with command’

Are You Leading with a Command or Wish Verb?

Words do matter for leaders.  Depending upon the verbs you choose as a leader, you may be leading with a command when you want a wish or with a wish when you desire a command.

leading-with-commandThe words you choose reflects your emotional intelligence.  Leadership research continues to reveal that those leaders with high emotional intelligence secure greater and more sustainable results.

The “C” Verbs

Two popular verbs spoken in many leadership conversations are:

  • Can
  • Could

Both of these words have the hard “c” sound.  This harshness only reinforces the suggestion of leading with a command.  Even with a leader softens by his or her speech this hard “c” sound, the end result still is received as a command.

Now sometimes the leader will desire a command and in a rush use one of these two verbs.  If she or he is leading with a command end result in mind, then possibly the use of either word is acceptable. Yet from my experience, by softening the request with more emotional intelligence greater results are possible.

The “W” Verbs

These two “W” verbs are often used or rather misused with the “C” verbs.

  • Will
  • Would

When leaders use “will” instead of “can” beyond the standard grammar knowledge of “of course I can, but will I?”, they are asking for the person to consider the request. The actual sound of the “w” is softer sounding especially in the word “will.”


Some leaders may view this “asking” as a sign of weakness.  Others who are leading with a command know it is a better way to lead.  These forward thinking leaders have not abdicated their leadership responsibilities. Rather than have empathized with those with whom they are leading or attempting to lead. Empathy is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Yes for those in leadership roles (meaning everyone) the words we speak and think do matter.  Leading with a command (think authority) is the end result. However I heard numerous times from my Swedish grandmother:

Det finns mer än ett sätt att huden en katt.

Translation: There is more than one way to skin a cat

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance culture from increase sales to workforce engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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