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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP172: WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS!

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! A leader's language is one of the most powerful tools they have in influencing and inspiring others and growing a healthy team. Communication is not about long eloquent speeches or firing up the troops; it's about straightforward phrases that great leaders use with genuine sincerity! In today's episode, I will show you four phrases you can use to improve your communication with your team and drive engagement.

Four phrases that will drive communication between you and your team:

1. I don't know, what do you think?

It is good for leaders to have answers, but it is more important to have the best questions. The leader's responsibility is to facilitate thinking and help people grow and innovate. Also, as hard as this may be for some of you to hear, someone other than you may have a better idea. By asking the right questions, the leader will cultivate a healthy culture of open debate and build capability in the team, not dependence on the leader.

2. What have we learned?

Plans don't always go the way you intended. The best way to make the most of these situations is by learning from them and ensuring you do not repeat any mistakes you made. Your entire team needs to own any errors, so ensure you use the word "we" and not "you." When you do, you will drive engagement and improvement throughout your organization.

3. That's great feedback, and I'd like to spend some time thinking about it.

Leadership is not about instant decisions. Sometimes you need to think things over. This phrase has two-fold power. First, you're acknowledging the other person's input. Second, you're buying yourself time to think about it.

4. Tell me more.

We all know that active listening is a critical leadership skill. But it's probably not your first instinct if you're like me, a fast talker and quick reactor. When I feel myself speeding up, I try to ask people to tell me more about their idea or observation. When they have answered with additional feedback, go back and do the same thing but with different words. A great follow-up to "tell me more" is, "Is there anything else?" Once they say, "No, I think that's it,"; that's when you say, "I feel like there is more you want to say," or "Are you certain that there isn't anything else?" I have found that not only do they feel heard, but also I give better advice because it helps me slow down and think more critically about the situation


Q: Do you use any of these phrases in your leadership today? Why or why not? What effect have they had?

Q: What keeps you from asking questions? Do you worry about the feedback you might get or that you will not be able to give a good answer? Or are you concerned about time? How can you address your concern?

Q: What do you think will happen if you do not foster communication on your team? Describe a time when open communication helped push your business forward. Was the discussion initially uncomfortable? How did you ensure you got the necessary information to take the appropriate action?


Application Activities:

  1. I only listed four phrases you can use so you can get very good at using them in regular conversation. Resist the urge to look up more (unless you already use these four). Instead, set an alarm on your phone to review these phrases three times a day. Make a goal to use all of them at least once a day. As you master these four, you can add even more phrases to your repertoire.

  2. In addition to communicating during a conversation, how you follow up is also essential. What strategies do you currently use to follow up after a team meeting or one-on-one?

    1. Sending out notes from the meeting

    2. Sending everyone their next steps

    3. Setting up a time to check in on everyone's progress.

    4. Utilize a project management tool to follow up and provide an easy way to check-in or allow employees to ask for help without micromanaging.


  1. Part of creating a positive communication strategy is managing your company's culture. If you have a siloed work environment, people will hesitate to share their thinking, be suspicious of others, and be more likely to assume the worst. To grow your company's culture, ensure that you plan regular social events for your team. Something as simple as a group lunch, team building activity, or awards ceremony can help develop trust and open doors of communication. What team events do you have on your calendar over the next three months? If you don't have any, set aside time and plan an event by the end of the week.


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