7 Things Real Leaders Won’t Ever Say

by  Joseph Sartori  |  Leadership Development
7 Things Real Leaders Won’t Ever Say

Real leaders know that how they speak is important but ultimately what they actually say is what may be repeated digitally or on paper. They continuously monitor their words not only at business negotiations with partners, investors or the “big customers,” but also carefully pick words for casual talks with subordinates or team mates. They know that respect and trust of all team members let the company achieve the goals they’ve set. In this post, seven things you will never hear them say:

Because I said so, that is why!

A leader builds the culture of communication on the principle of cooperation and respect. Authority and authoritarianism have nothing in common; true leaders know the difference. Knowing the reasons why the issue should be solved in a particular manner helps to understand the essence of the matter and allows to suggest alternatives. In other words, leaders should explain the necessity of the required actions, because blind obedience of employees slows down the optimization of the workflow and affects the outcome.

Who do you think you are?

There is no place for taunting or derogation of a person in a productive team. The core value of a harmonious collective is a principle of equality. Each member has a right to express their own position regarding the question simply because each person is experienced and knowledgeable in the respective area. Once you put yourself above any of your teammates – you will lose respect as a leader and instead of cooperation, you will have a risk of split in the team.

It is not my fault.

Then whose fault is it? Leaders always bear the responsibility for any failures, mistakes and erroneous decisions made in a team. Yes, the leader is only a part of a team; however, the leader is the one who forms the team and delegates tasks. If any of the team members reacts in a wrong way or makes a mistake, which leads to undesirable results, first of all, it is the leader’s fault, because the leading role means attention to details and tracking each process. Personal responsibility for people in the company is the distinctive component of leadership.

I’ll handle it myself.

The base of any successful business is teamwork, cooperation, inspiration and coherence of taken actions. Do not underestimate your team – they are experts and have great potential. The best way to use your time effectively is mentorship and delegation of responsibilities. Do not take on all the obligations – let your coworkers learn and perform themselves. Thus, your team will evolve and develop skills for independent working.

I do not care.

Great leaders always care about those they lead. No matter what the issue is – the broken computer, the troublesome customer, or the employee’s health. Once you express indifference or neglect the problem, others will follow your example. They won’t care what your boss will tell you when you, for instance, fail the project.

I am too busy.

Everyone has his own duties at work and they are of more priority for us than the duties of our coworkers. However, the leader should always make time to help others. The good leaders are always there to talk to their people. They provide regular feedback on the performance of their direct reports, give advice, and stay in touch on a personal level. Put the priorities in order and postpone other activities when the matter is really important. Or at least politely suggest the person to wait until you make time to help him or her in their question.

Failure is unacceptable.

We all strive to reach success in our activities and this is the main reason of our efforts and investment. However, it is impossible to prosper in each and every project we take. Failure in one does not mean the collapse of the whole business. Instead of blaming your teammates and wasting money on the unpromising projects, you should take time to analyze the situation and draw up a strategy. A leader can learn from past mistakes and discuss the fact that failure happens with the team, but it is not the reason to give up. Leaders should find the most profit from the lesson taken and lead their teams only forward, to new achievements.

Editor’s Note:

After this post had been published, the author advised us that this material had been published elsewhere, so it does not meet our editorial guidelines requiring original content. Because it had already been extensively promoted via our social channels, we are leaving it on our site, but do want to disclose the location where it was originally published. It can be found at Susan Solovic, Small Business Expert, at this link.


Has a leader ever told you one of these seven phrases? How did it feel?
Photo Credit: Fotolia pressmaster

About The Author

Articles By josephsartori
Joseph Sartori is a marketing specialist and a freelance writer focused on personal coaching, career development and online business development. Currently he is working at Edubirdie.com as consulting editor.

What People Are Saying

Amy Watson  |  18 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Oh goodness, it’s worse than knowing a leader has said one to me. *I* have been guilty of saying a couple of them, and the memory of those errors makes me cringe. In both cases it was a mistake. I recovered okay from one, but the other actually destroyed my relationship with one of my direct reports and I’ve regretted it ever since.

But I’m practicing self-forgiveness.

Good list! Welcome to the pack!

Joseph Sartori  |  22 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Thank you!

John Smith  |  18 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Joseph – interesting post.

I liked your list of things not to say as a leader. At one time or another, I think I have heard all of these from someone else and even need to own up that I may have said something like some of them myself.

They are all good statements (and attitudes) to avoid, but the last one “Failure is unacceptable” is uniquely important. We seem to have develped a cultural obsession around this idea that you cannot fail. In the film “Apollo 13”, among others, the line “Failure is not an option.” is prominent … and totally untrue.

Failure is not only an option, but a reality for most of us at least some of the time. The idea that we can avoid life’s realities by uttering this mantra religiously only creates both an illusion that we can avoid failure, but also sets us up to fall much harder than if we realistically plan, prepare, and execute.

Failure has been much in my professional life and is the source of most of my learning and any wisdom I have gathered along the way. Your comments about learning from our mistakes as we move forward is excellent.


Joseph Sartori  |  22 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Thank you for the comment. I like your example with “Apollo 13” and I think it would be interesting to hear from your experience too.

Jodi  |  19 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Been told all by my former employer and conversely, I tried avoid these in my role as leader but the tone had been set already and so, my approach was met with some skepticism. Like a bunch of battered children. I got laid off….the last of the original group, and am still in “recovery” but feeling better each day. Always resilient and hopeful. Articles like your offer validation and renew my hope and spirit. Thank you.

Joseph Sartori  |  22 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Thanx! Glad the article inspired you and good luck!

Yvonne Rinaldi  |  25 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Dear Joseph,
How true! Words can make or break people and your article has certainly delineated this. I would like to add that sometimes ‘silence’ can have the same effect. Not providing someone with a constructive comment or even better asking a question, leaves one feeling unworthy.

Leading must include developing and growing people. I like many have learned through mistakes and I am sure will continue to make mistakes; however I have made a conscious decision to lead by always sourcing the right question to ask…..
What do you think?

Joseph Sartori  |  26 Feb 2016  |  Reply

Dear Yvonne,
good point. We have been taught many times that words are powerful and can be a real weapon. Yet, silence is no less dangerous in some situations. Actually, it could be another question to think upon – in which situations leader should not keep silent, and in which he must?

Join The Conversation