Being a leader today is not about having followers who are waiting to be told what to do and how to do it. Successful leadership is about engaging and empowering people to do what they are capable of doing, and building confidence and trust in your team.

Communication is key; written or spoken, your words carry tremendous weight. These 12 phrases are small but powerful. Use them daily and you can be sure your leadership is moving in the right direction.

1. "Please"

It may seem basic, but treating others with respect goes a long way. Especially in times of stress, it's easy to overlook a courtesy as simple as saying "please," but to the person on the other end it can make the difference between a barked order and a respectful request. 

2. "Thank you"

Appreciation is both motivating and uplifting, and saying "thank you" is a simple, no-cost way to show appreciation. Taking care to recognize the contributions of others increases their confidence and your team's morale, and it sets a good example.

3. "Tell me more"

Successful leadership means being interested and inquisitive, always wanting to know more and seeking out the ideas and opinions of others.

4. "I'm proud of you"

The leaders we admire tend to be generous with praise. When you notice and acknowledge the hard work and achievements of your team, everyone wins.

5. "What do you think?"

As the old saying goes, listening is among the greatest of favors. When you sincerely ask people for their input, they feel valued and more committed. It also communicates that you're open to the ideas of others.

6. "It's your call"

When you empower others with decision making, you encourage them to build their own leadership and foster trust and independent thinking. Delegating decisions is the cure for micromanagement.

7. "You're doing great"

The best way to help people reach their full potential is by offering them encouragement. Treat people like they make a difference and they will.

8. "We're all in this together"

The best leaders are collaborators. They thrive on building teams and creating synergy; they know that it takes a community of dedicated, loyal people to cultivate winning results. Building collective pride and accountability keeps egos in check and gives better results.

9. "I trust you"

The best way to cultivate trust is by giving trust to others. If those around you feel confident that you trust them, they have the confidence to excel and are motivated to keep your opinion of them high.

10. "I'm sorry"

There is nothing that feels more humbling to a leader than saying "I'm sorry." But it's actually a sign of great strength and accountability, and wise to practice. Acknowledging your mistakes inspires people to do the same.

11. "I don't know"

Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, including leaders. When you admit the limitations of your knowledge, you model humility, candor, and confidence for your team. And when you seek out the answer, you model problem solving and open-minded inquiry.

12. "How can I serve you?"

If you really want your leadership to stand apart, this simple phrase can be a game changer. Servant leadership is the most powerful force you can bring to your team. If you're looking for ways you can help and serve others, the best way is to ask.

What are your go-to leadership phrases? What do they communicate? How well are they working for you?