Leadership and Your Pronouns

Who would have thought that what you learned in 6th Grade English Class turn out to be such an important leadership lesson? I’m talking about pronouns. Not long ago I heard an experienced leader say something really profound. He said, “I try to watch my pronouns.” He went on to explain that when he was speaking to the City Council about something that was successful he tried to say, “He did it” or “She did it.” (Notice that he intentionally didn’t say, “I did it” or even “We did it.”)

On the other hand, if he was speaking about something that didn’t go well, he intentionally said, “We made a mistake” or “It didn’t turn out the way we expected.” (Notice that he didn’t say, “They made a mistake.”)

It’s called watching your pronouns.

It’s also called, “Having their back” or “Modeling the way.” Really, it’s just called LEADERSHIP.

Real leaders don’t throw the people that work for them under the bus.  They don’t play the blame game, and they aren’t afraid to step up and shoulder their share of the blame and maybe more than their fair share.

Conversely, great leaders don’t have to be in the spotlight. They relish seeing other people receive the credit. They aren’t so insecure that they keep their place by keeping others pushed down. Instead, they not only help others to do more with less (famous local government mantra, right?), but they also don’t mind those leaders getting their fair share of the glory—or maybe even more than their fair share.

So watch your pronouns.  It might just make you a better leader!

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Chief Operations Officer, Strategic Government Resources

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