Living Leadership

Living Leadership

Leadership phrases to know

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Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

The older I get, the more I tend to rely on frequent phrases. It's my dad in me … he has many phrases, some of which I've shared in this blog (“Lighten up, Francis.”) from time to time.

Now I find myself using phrases (I happen to think are pretty funny) to drive points home. Sad to say, my clichéd phrases may be losing their punch and I might need to come up with a few new ones. I'm certainly open to suggestions.

What do you think of these?:

“Are you buying what I'm selling?”

Here's a standby when I want to check in if someone is actually following my train of thought. If they look at me like a crazy person after I say this, I know they are not tracking along with me. Or they are completely annoyed with me and have lost interest.

Either way, it's a good attention-grabber to reconnect, maybe laugh and get back to the issue at hand. I have to admit I may have borrowed this phrase from a teammate years ago and it still helps today.

“Point taken.”

Here is an oldie but a goodie. I find myself saying this more often than in years past. When a point has been made over and over and then over again, there is a time to stop. I find by having a phrase where your team knows that you completely understand and want to move the conversation forward can be helpful.

“Tell me something good.”

At the end of most regular meetings with my team members I end with, “Tell me something good.” It's a chance for me to end our conversation on a positive note and about them.

Sometimes in the middle of everything we are trying to decide and accomplish, it's hard to slow down and focus on something good in their lives. It may even take a minute for them to come up with something good. However, they always do and it always makes us both smile.

Whether it's about enjoying a sunshiny day, a daughter's new job, a grandson's athletic success or even sharing that their team is clicking and doing well together, ending with something good is a good thing to do. Not to mention that when I'm feeling particularly cheery, I might even sing it in an off-key kind of way.

“I don't need to know this.”

When conversations start to trail off to details and personal opinions, its time to remind others we've gone too far and to check the nature of the conversation.

Details can be important, but the especially muddy ones (you know which ones they are) shouldn't be shared and we shouldn't engage. That when I use … ”I don't need to know this.”

“You have to build trust … first.”

Everything comes back to building trust. We you focus on all the issues you have with your team first, and not building trust with each other and with your teams, you will get nowhere fast.

We have to focus every day on building trust with our teams. There are many ways to do this (a blog for another day) but we have to do it! As a leader, it is your top priority to build and keep trust within your teams.

“Dream Big.”

I know, I know. I can't take credit for this one, any of them really; they've all been said before. But we use “Dream big” not only as an action but also a noun. I will use it in sentence like, “What is your dream big?”

Around here most know that is a request. It is a challenge to think about the ultimate dream for their team or their neighborhood. We have a “Dream Big” for Friendship Haven. Will we ever get there and stay there? Probably not, but it is something we are all aspiring to get to. It's posted, talked about and referenced often.

I'm not coaching you to use the phrases I do. But I do encourage you to find the leadership phrases that work for you, and to develop practices that you are known for.

Perhaps the phrase I am most proud of is “Dream Big” for our campus. It's become a phrase that is much bigger than two words.

It's a battle cry for our leaders to think bigger, do more and shoot for the stars.

We believe in it, practice it … and we do say it often.

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality under her, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year. 

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