For example, do you compliment your workers for doing good work -- for going above and beyond? If so, how often? Do you acknowledge and celebrate your team's efforts?
We spend the majority of our time at work, but most of the time we treat each other like strangers. Taking into account all the conversations and digital text-based exchanges we have in the course of a workday, there are certain undeniable phrases that, if we use them more often with team members, will result in an increase in trust and loyalty.
Here are five examples of what great leaders will genuinely express verbally to engage the hearts and minds of people.
1. "We couldn't have pulled off this project without your help."
Consider this a great way of expressing gratitude and saying thank you to someone for going above and beyond, especially if it made you look good in your leadership role. Saying it publicly in front of the whole team is especially gratifying and puts your employee on the pedestal that he or she deserves.
2. "I could use your advice on what to do in this situation."
There's this false notion that leaders who ask for advice are perceived as less competent. On the contrary, research has linked people who ask for advice to being perceived as more competent.
The reason this works is that the most effective leaders are emotionally present and ask for help when it's needed. In turn, they create space for authenticity and truth so that others are free to do the same. By being real and emotionally honest, and giving team members permission to be the same, teams connect and collaborate better.
So, as a leader, checking your ego at the door and asking a knowledge worker for input into a strategy will only increase that person's level of work engagement.
3. "What can I do to help?"
This phrase has been especially welcome during incredibly stressful times brought on by the pandemic. It is also useful for team members posed with a deadline or any challenging scenario. Offering to help demonstrates that you genuinely have the backs of fellow employees.
4. "That was clearly my mistake."
Effective leaders aren't hiding behind their own hubris or status and deflecting responsibility to someone else. They show up with humility to acknowledge and own up to their mistakes. This sets the example for their tribe to be honest and not fear making their own mistakes.
Admitting to being human and making mistakes has also been found to actually increase trust. Paul Zak, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, says, "People who are imperfect are more attractive to us. We like them more than people who seem too perfect."
5. "I don't know."
Quite honestly, it's uncomfortable admitting you don't know something, especially in a leadership role when people expect you to have all the answers. Now imagine putting yourself in the position of getting comfortable with not knowing. Rare, indeed. Unless you're Garry Ridge, chairman and CEO of the WD-40 Company.
Ridge says "I don't know" are the three most powerful words he's ever learned in his life. "I've been really happy being the dumb guy. And then most of the time I am; I often say I'm consciously incompetent. And I think that does help people feel comfortable," Ridge shared on the Small-Cap Institute Presents podcast.
Ridge says when he got comfortable with not knowing, he began to learn and grow -- a lot. "As soon as you make out you know everything, you shut down all the opportunity to learn more and get different points of view," says Ridge. "So not only do I get comfortable with I don't know, but even more today, I keep asking myself, 'Why do I believe that?' Because the world's changing so quickly."