3 Top Tips: Use of Language When Hiring & Leading Others #0010

As an Entrepreneur, Founder or Business Operator (current or aspiring), you may have hired a team of hundreds, or yet to make your first hire at all! BUT…If ever I could give you a tip (or 3!) that requires only a small amount of effort on your part and (over time) return a big positive impact, it’s this one!

Your Use of Language

Below are 3 ways you can (in my opinion) improve your terminology with the people you have hired, or want to hire. When it comes to growing and managing a successful team that will help you and your business achieve its goals, your use of terminology is everything!
Here are my top 3 tips:

1. No-one “Works For You…”

If there is ever a question that gets me extremely uncomfortable it’s “how many people work for you”. My answer (after I finish squirming) is “none”. You see despite having a team of over 100 people, none of them “work for me” or any of the other Co-founders. In the early days, I used to get this question quite a bit from friends and family. Not so much now as most people I have around me know to never ask me this question. Our team is exactly that, a team, of which I also am a valid member. They come to work to be successful for themselves, their families and the company. The company we all work for! They don’t work for me…we all work together! A common mission, a shared goal.

2. Ban The Term “Staff”

If you look at the origins of the word “staff”, its a military term referring to those that support a General. Later, “staff” was used to describe those that worked and sometimes lived “downstairs” in large Victorian houses. Waiting on the more wealthy family “upstairs”. You can see where I’m going with this can’t you?
It’s not a term I use, or accept being used around me when describing the people that our business employs. The individuals that make up our team are “Team Members”, they are not “staff”. By openly describing your team in the correct way, it will ensure that (over time) people feel empowered and ready to pull in the same direction you are, helping the business grow and achieve its goals.

3. “We” and “You”

Finally, you need to know when to use “we” and when to use “you”. When something has gone well it’s “you”. “You have all done amazingly well”. When things have gone badly, its “we”. “We will find a solution to this problem”.
As a Leader, you shoulder the blame for issues “we”, and shine a light on the team for successes “you”.
I know a few people who live in a world where they do this the opposite way. I shudder to think of the self important thoughts that must run through their heads.


Each change of language is subtle, but put all 3 rules together and look at the difference in the sentences.
“the staff that work for me always seem to mess up”
“together with the team members I work with, we will find a way to improve”
Now, can you picture the person that said sentence 1? You can kind of understand the type of person they are. They are a Boss, not a Leader. They see people as commodities, they are the centre of their own universe. They put themselves ahead of others, and they probably have to recruit simply to keep up with the “staff” that leave their business. They run a company where the growth is probably stunted or going backwards.
Now, can you picture the person who said sentence 2? They seem to lead from the front. They are keen to learn and improve and take a keen interest in the team and how they are motivated. They see everyone as individuals with their own talents. They recruit to grow the business and not just replace people. They run a growing company that’s getting noticed. A company that offers everyone there a career.
Subtle changes, BIG impact. Simple.

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