Archive for the ‘Communicate Vision with Energy and Big Fun’ Category

One Powerful Word

The words we choose as leaders are powerful.   Helping our teams find the right words to clarify their thinking, can be even more powerful.   As with so much else in leadership and life, less can be more.  Sometimes, reducing the thought down to one powerful word can create vision and focus.

I have two friends both looking to lose a little weight.  One is following a strict regimen of counting every calorie eaten and burned, with special calculators and lots of optimistic conversation around how many calories we actually torched in each workout.

Another friend takes a simpler approach… just don’t eat anything “white.”

Turns out, they are eating very similarly– avoiding refined sugar, potatoes, bread.  Both are losing weight.  One is spending a lot more time thinking about it.

Reducing challenges down to one word can create for easy following.

One word can clarify priorities (customers, safety).

In team building, having each person pick one word metaphors to open the conversation creates imagery that culls out the issues quickly in a non-threatening way.

“Today this team is a _______.”

“I want it to be a __________.”

In coaching, asking the employee for one word  to describe their concerns helps to crystallize thoughts and clarify the issues.

For informal recognition, a powerful well-timed word, can be more memorable than a long discussion.

When supporting decision making, asking for a one word reason can help, “in one word, what differentiates this candidate from the others?”

Of course using the wrong one word without explanation can be devastating… “no”  and a few un-bloggable others come to mind.

However, encouraging people to find the right word can…

  • calm emotion and confusion
  • clarify thinking
  • reduce conversational clutter
  • creating a starting point for more useful words to follow

What techniques do you find work well to clarify thinking?


I have been a lifelong student of leadership, which began with an academic grounding in organizational communication, enhanced by a combination of exciting challenges, fabulous mentors, and learning.

By day, I am a leader in corporate America, and all of the time I am a wife and mother of two energetic, aspiring leaders—ages 17 and 6.

 At work,  I am finding more and more young leaders looking for advice on leadership philosophy and style, career, and general questions on “how I roll” as a leader.

 In the community, I work with teenagers and adults to explore and articulate their values and belief statements, and to support them as they play out in real work together.

 At home, I watch my children leading, learning, and often tripping into the same mistakes I have made… and really want to help, without obvious intrusion.

I have designed this multi-generational blog as an interactive forum for seasoned leaders and youth to share their stories, insights and challenges in their development as leaders.

The Plan

Each week I will suggest a topic for us to discuss.  I will start with my best thinking on the subject, along with some provocative questions.  We can then enjoy the conversation we create together through your comments.

 Topics will fall into the following categories:

  • Exploring and defining our leadership values
  • Leadership approaches to  real-life situations
  • Commentary on leadership in the news
  • Must read books and resources (classics and the latest thinking)
  • Exercises mentors and parents can complete with their teens and children to define values and build their leadership skills

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 Guest Posts

I welcome guest-post proposals from leaders of all ages.

 Contact Information

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