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5 Phrases We Can Drop as Leaders

Like anything else in life, if we don’t question our beliefs, we keep on living with the old habits. Living with what becomes normal may not even serve us or our wellbeing, but we may not be aware of it.

This also applies to how we worked for the past 150+ years and the concepts and phrases we adopted in our language.

Most of us accepted the notion of working for the money. Yes, it is a fact that most of us need money and that is why we work. The only difference is the norm we inherited with that: we are not supposed to love or even like what we do. We do it because we need to pay the bills. If you ever say anything about your emotions toward the work you do, it seems out of place. Not anymore. This is the first one we need to drop. Yes, we all deserve to like and even love what we do every single day. And we have the right to do so. We better aim for it since we spend a big chunk of our lives at work. Like the Conscious Business book author Fred Kofman quotes from Kahlil Gibran “Work is love made visible.” Let’s embrace this. It will change our attitude toward work.

The other one is employee. Not because of the word itself but the meaning it carried since the Factory Age. It meant somebody who is lazy or dumb who needs to be told what to do and how to do it (Taylorism). What is replacing it is words like stakeholder, member, team member, partner; people who are adults and have a brain that has a say in things; people who are equals and still willing to learn from one another; people who share the profit.

The third one is manager. Why do we need to manage people? Because they are dumb and lazy (again goes back to Taylorism). When we take that away, nobody needs to be managed. We may need guidance, mentoring, training to do our jobs. We not going to a kindergarten or school. They hired us because we are adults. We can make decisions at home, at work and elsewhere. There are no managers in the new workplace; there are leaders that emerge. It has nothing to do with the time they spend at the company or any titles. When leaders trust, people get engaged. We do not need to “manage” people.

The fourth one is 9 to 5. We are so used to this; it is not even correct. The more accurate one is 8 to 6 or 8 to 8. We are used to measuring productivity with these type of criteria which is only childish. I saw so many employees trying to kill time to make it to 5 or 6 or whatever time they are told to leave. If I ever had to work fewer hours, I always noticed I am a lot more efficient since I don’t want to waste any time. Some people work all those hours and so many pretend they do. If you treat people like children, they will act like them. The new norm is bringing results no matter when and where you work. Don’t we start businesses with goals to achieve? Why should we make sure everybody is at the office at certain times (unless it is jobs like an airline crew who need to be there) to get the results we want to see? Because we don’t trust people and we want to control. With technology, there is no excuse. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in face to face interactions, but it is not needed 9 to 5/8 to 8 every day. Let’s embrace flexibility unless the job requires us to be at work at certain times.

The last one might surprise you, but it is empowerment. We see it being used in the most positive sense for creating better work cultures, but the word still implies there is someone higher at the ranks or more powerful that enables you to use yours. Or that you have the power but the other person does not. It is one of the trendy words in the work jargon, however I think it will have a short shelf life. Every one of us is powerful in our way and we don’t need to be granted that authority to exercise it. The word power in itself has to be defined too. I see it as our strengths and gifts and we all have them in different areas. We need all kinds of it to make an organization thrive. A better word may be autonomy. It means acting by choice.

Let’s make servant-leadership, purpose, flexibility, greater good, trust, stakeholders, autonomy, profit sharing be the most common phrases we use. We know words have power and they matter. Like Daniel Pink mentions in his book Drive, we are living at a time of Motivation 3.0 which is about Purpose Maximization; let’s exemplify that in our leadership.

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