Lead Team Culture Language

AUDIO: How to Guide Your Culture With Language

by Greg Yates | Breakthrough Leadership

Ididn’t know what they were saying, but they knew. What sounded like made up words brought immediate action and recognition.

I’d seen this before in technical conversations where I was unfamiliar with the terminology. I’d heard it when doctors talk to each other about a diagnosis. I remembered how it felt learning a few phrases in Russian when nothing else made sense. But this was a mother speaking to her toddler and I’m pretty sure they were trying to speak English.

You’ve been there. It was my language but it didn’t make sense; at least not to me. But, our family has made-up it’s own words over the years. Cute, unique phrases that we held on to. Those familial terms have a way to make us belong, even make us special. Those inside the family are part of a “special language”, even if it’s contributors were most often just babbling.

Shared Language

The gibberish of our tribal language creates immediate recognition even when nobody else understands. Single words or phrases create conceptual awareness. Even a look, combined with this shared language translates intent, even action.

For years in business, I’ve depended on key phrases and made up words to communicate entire concepts to my team. Abbreviations do the trick in most of our lives as well. Some of you listening know what a DBL a BSQ are. But, I prefer language that captures intent, mission and process.

Same Language, Same Page

Imagine leading a team who all understood through a shared lingo the steps to success and where things stood? Imagine, teaching an entire culture to your newest team members by teaching them the language, the phraseology of your team.

At Breakthrough Leadership, we have developed an operating system that is used for something we call ‘same page thinking’. We believe that being on the same page, speaking the same language, has little to do with competency and everything to do with CONTEXT.

Here’s 3 reasons why:

  1. All words are not created equal. Try it with a New Yorker, a Southerner, a Brit or an Aussie. Trust me, understanding English doesn’t mean we’re on the same page.
  2. Intimacy impacts interpretation. If I say, “he pulled a Dutchess”, only my dad and brother will probably laugh with me. Shared experiences evolve into shared recognition.
  3. Emotion empowers effect. The value of simple words changes when infused with emotion. Translating my words won’t convey my passion. Context is everything.

Effective team leadership will always develop its own language. Develop it intentionally. It may sound like babble to outsiders but it will turn your team into family.

Add your comments to the conversation: Are you leading your team with intentional language? What are some words and phrases you and your team utilize to stay on the same page? Post your reply below.

About Greg

Greg Yates has been a Chicago area businessman for over 30 years. He’s the author of the book, "Broken - How Being Broken Unlocked The Greatest Success of My Life". He has simultaneously owned 14 different businesses in a variety of industries; including real estate, manufacturing, payroll, and technology. Greg has also been an investor and a board member. He attended Olivet Nazarene University. He has a passion for flying. He’s had a pilot’s license for over 30 years and owned a variety of airplanes. Greg and his wife Vicki have been married over 37 years. They have a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

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