I've read countless inspirational Inc.com columns about smart, strategic things leaders can say to motivate the troops, display vulnerability and attract customers.

Well, here's a column that looks at the dark side of smart.

I've listed 10 dumb things leaders have said that, at the time, they thought sounded smart (or motivating). Each of the 10 examples cited were either said to me, spoken by a CEO at an event I attended or, yes, made by me:

  1. "The first thing I want to say as your new CEO is that I will fire your f*cking ass if I ever catch you leaking an internal memo to a journalist." The opening remarks of a newly-minted CEO to a worldwide employee audience. Her comments were aimed at stopping the plethora of internal leaks that had been absolutely destroying the company's image. Note: Her f*cking ass was kicked out of the organization some 15 months later. #ManagementByFear
  2. "Here are the biographies of the 100 people reporting to you. You'll probably need to fire one-third of them. But, hey, I'm retiring so that's your problem now." The words of a departing CEO to me on my first day as president of a division within J. Walter Thompson. #AcowardlyPontiusPilateTypeMove #WhatHaveIGottenMyselfInto
  3. "Steve, I've called you in here to discuss your penis." Spoken by the quite attractive general manager to whom I was reporting at the tender age of 24. Note: She obviously meant to use the word performance, but I was prepared to discuss either P word. #AwkwardSilence #Blushing #TryRecoveringFromThatGaffe
  4. "Who's this guy Mas?" The words of a CEO after I'd shown him a copy of a brand new brochure. I'd just told him we'd distribute it en masse to our worldwide employees. #LearnAsecondLanguage #literacy
  5. "You should be ashamed. Not one member of this management team has earned a degree from an Ivy League school." My CEO venting at the poor performance of our agency and blaming it on the lack of our senior team's blue blood credentials and connections. #Deflating #Patronizing #Irrelevant
  6. "Cindy has the best legs in the firm. Cindy, stand up so everyone can get a look." The CEO of Adweek's hottest agency of the year circa 1993 #preSexualHarrassmentDays #BeyondStupidNonetheless #ThoughtHeWasPayingHerACompliment
  7. "This newsletter is so bad that I'm going to light a match and set it on fire." A chief communication officer's reaction to my first draft of his company's newsletter. #PowerPlay #Devasting #DidIchooseTheRightCareerPath
  8. "I'm pleased to report that our Mexican partners won this year's sales contest. Hell, that's the first thing you Mexicans have won since the battle of the Alamo." The CEO of a global professional services firm kicking off an all-partners meeting with his idea of a light-hearted statement. #Trump #Insulting #ExtremelyLameAttemptAtHumor
  9. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking for a raise. You're damn lucky you even have a job." The founder of a mom-and-pop agency's response to my asking for my first raise after two years of service. #TimeToUpdateTheResume #ParalyzedForTheNextWeek
  10. "We didn't have enough time to prepare." My response to a prospect when, in the middle of a new business presentation, our Peppercomm team projected a slide showing his direct competitor's product. #CopOut #CoverUp #NotAcceptingFault #NeedlessToSayWeLostThePitch

My bottom-line advice to Inc.com's very smart readers: Take a second to think about what you're going to say, put yourself in the shoes of the audience, take a deep breath and then speak. The image and reputation you save may be your own.