If you're in a leadership position and you don't use these words multiple times every day...then you're really not a leader.

1. "Help"

Sure, you're the boss. You're in charge. And maybe you really do have all the answers. (Although that's incredibly unlikely.)

Still: Asking for help shows vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen--all are qualities of a great leader. And all are qualities you hope your employees exhibit.

So whenever you need help, just ask, sincerely and with humility, "Can you help me?"

You won't lose respect. You'll gain respect. And you'll implicitly compliment the skills, knowledge, and experience of the person you ask.


2. "Show"

While asking for help is great, the best way to ask is to ask to be shown. Why? Advice is temporary. Knowledge is forever. Knowing how to do something means everything.

Don't just ask for input. Ask to be taught. Ask to be trained. Ask to be shown.

In time, you'll find that's what your employees do, too--which will help create a culture where everyone learns, and grows, and develops.


3. "Sorry"

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has things they need to apologize for--actions, words, missteps, failings....

Even you. The only people who don't make mistakes are the people who don't try anything, who don't risk anything, who don't push or extend or challenge themselves.

So what should you do when you make a mistake?

Say you made a mistake and then say you're sorry. Never follow an apology with a disclaimer like "But I was really mad, because..." or "But I did think you were..." or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.

Say you're sorry, say why you're sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.

And then follow your apology up with what you'll do to correct and learn from the mistake, because that turns an error into a course correction--and creates a culture where taking risks is not just accepted but expected.

4. "Sh#*"

Swearing for no reason is just swearing. But say a team needs to immediately pull together. Tossing in an occasional--and heartfelt--curse word can actually help instill a sense of urgency because it shows you care. (And of course it never hurts when a leader lets a little frustration or anger show, too.)

And besides: Authenticity is always more persuasive.

So be sensitive to your audience; some words are less offensive than others. And if you don't curse in your "personal life," don't try to curse at work. You'll just sound silly. But in the right setting, a heartfelt "da@*" or "sh*@" can make an actual difference. (And might make you feel a little better, too.)

5. "Yes"

Your team is busy. Their plates are already full. When your employees have new ideas, there are plenty of reasons to sit tight, stay safe, and keep things as they are.

But that also means tomorrow will be just like today. And more importantly, that means your employees will stop raising new ideas. They'll stop thinking creatively. They'll stop finding ways to improve your business.

After all, you don't seem interested.

Every day, say yes to something different. Say yes to something risky. Say yes to the employee who is excited about a new idea. And definitely say yes to the employee who seems hesitant to bring up their new idea--because hearing "yes" will give them a much-needed boost of confidence and self-esteem.

Remember, when you say "yes," you're really saying, "I trust you." And isn't that what every employee wants to hear?

6. "No."

Even though "yes" is incredibly powerful, you can't do everything. You can't help everyone. You may want to--but you can't.

Sometimes you just need to say no.

So say it. Don't say "maybe," unless you mean it. Don't say, "We'll look at that down the road," unless you mean it. If no really is no, say "no."

While it's no fun to hear "no," waffling and indefinitely postponing a decision makes people feel worse.

As a leader, your job is to make decisions. So make decisions--and always explain why you made that decision. While other people might not agree with your reasoning, at least they'll understand that you do have reasons.

7. "Great"

No one gets enough praise. Pick someone--pick as many people as possible--who did something well and say, "That was great how you...."

Praise is one of the best--and easiest--gifts you can give. Praise costs you nothing, yet it can be priceless to the recipient.

And it feels really good to give.

8. "Welcome"

How often do you say, "You're welcome"? If you're rarely responding to thanks, that means you aren't doing anything to deserve thanks.


See, saying "You're welcome" is a proxy for how often you're helping other people. The more you say it, the more you're doing.

And when you are thanked, don't spoil the moment for the other person. Don't say, "It was nothing." Don't say, "I didn't really do anything." Just say, "You're welcome." Say, "I was happy to help."

Find ways to actually help people and they'll thank you. Then show you appreciate thanks, the compliment, or the praise.

Then everyone wins, but oddly enough, you most of all--because one of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to do things for other people.