If a leader can't get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn't even matter. --Gilbert Amelio
Communication is one of the key jobs of every leader. Unfortunately, few leaders are really good at it. Some are too busy to bother, while others don't use the right words at the right time, or they aren't as transparent and forthright as they could and should be.
And then there are leaders who just say the wrong thing.
There are some things that every great leader just never, ever says. If you're a leader, here are three toxic things that you should remove from your vocabulary right now.
As a leader, you know that you depend on your team--and each and every person on it--for your own success. If the people who work for you don't do a good job, then you won't be able to do a good job either. Neglecting to shine the spotlight on others is the fastest way for you to get your team to stop putting everything they've got into doing their jobs really well. Saying things like "I can't believe I landed this deal" or "I'm the one who got it done" is a slap in the face to your team. Other "I" phrases great leaders never use are "I don't care," "I can't," "I don't have the time," and "I am in charge."
2. "I don't care if it doesn't feel like the right thing to do--just do it!"
A great leader would never utter these words at the sacrifice of what is ethically and morally the right path to take. A great leader would also never ignore the concerns and warnings of the people who work for them. You've recruited and hired great people, and chances are, they know a few things that you don't. When their personal ethical (or, even more concerning, their legal) radars are going off, then you'd better listen. Great leaders never support unethical behavior--they always make the choice to do the right thing even if it means sacrificing company profits.
3. "Why can't you ever get it right?"
This kind of comment serves only to make the person across the table from you feel alone and isolated, as if they were the misfit link on the team. Instead of really communicating with your employee, you're opening the door to a knee-jerk, defensive response. Great leaders get to the bottom of a problem by asking how they can help, working alongside their team, and coming up with solutions through team collaboration.