Is language letting your leaders down?

A recent study suggests vocabulary could be partly to blame for poor productivity and performance.

Much has been said about the importance of strong communication skills in leadership.  
 
One study has focused on the effect that ‘leader language’ has on employee engagement.
 
“A leader provides focus for people and points them toward a specific set of values that guide action within the organisation. In that sense, the language that leaders use is absolutely critical,” explained Jonathan R. Clark, assistant professor of management at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
 
In their study, “Picture this: How the language of leaders drive performance”, Clark and co-researcher Chad Murphy found that leadership who used strong, specific terms elicited better results in terms of performance and productivity.
 
Murphy pointed to the power of language used in toy retailer Toys ‘R Us’ vision statement: “Our vision is to put joy in kids’ hearts and a smile on parents’ faces”.
 
“Everyone can imagine a kid, everyone knows what joy feels like and everyone can imagine a parent with their child smiling," Clark said to Science Daily.
 
"That's what makes something vivid: when you have concrete objects and behaviours that people can actually imagine in their minds" he said.
 
Their research showed that organizations—like Toys ‘R Us—worked best when employees were well-coordinated and were able to fully embrace a “vivid vision statement”.
 
“Our research suggests that [a program’s] effectiveness [is], in part, dependent on the actual language used by leaders to communicate about the ultimate purpose of those efforts. The key is not simply to communicate a meaningful purpose, but rather to do so in a way that creates a shared interpretation of that purpose across people in the organisation,” they wrote.
 
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