Every corporate leader is familiar with the language that crops up in executive leadership meetings. It’s the same language used on résumés and LinkedIn—a code that shows you understand the inner workings of the leadership position you’re in (or applying for). Words and phrases like “customer journey” or “bandwidth,” or even more exotic language like “thought leadership” and “scrum.”
There’s a free trade of these buzzwords and phrases in the world of leadership. But what matters more than speaking the language is walking the walk. Do you really understand the customer journey? When you hold a scrum, do your employees come away better-equipped to do their job?
Corporate language is only worth what’s behind it. For good leaders, it’s about talking the talk and walking the walk. C-level executives need skills that allow them to be transformative leaders, to put power behind their words.
Spearhead, Pioneer, Pilot
Willingness to break new ground and pave new trails into the unknown is a desirable trait in any leader. If you’re the type of leader to throw around words like “spearhead,” “pioneer” or “pilot,” you better be ready to live up to the connotations that come with them. This means diving into the unknown with confidence and taking the right precautions to forage ahead with a full head of steam.
Executives living up to these buzzwords will do things their way, outside the box. You can’t “spearhead” the status quo or “pioneer” a program that’s already been done before. These are transformative words that demand groundbreaking action behind them. You need to be willing to try something new and to see an experiment through to the end, adapting to the data it yields along the way. Leadership isn’t about being a mad scientist—it’s about taking calculated risks with the payoff in mind.
Mentored, Galvanized, Advocated
Leaders need to inspire others. More important, they need to take the time to lift up those around them. This goes beyond a willingness to delegate—it means taking the initiative to teach someone and be an advocate for their success. Words like “mentor,” galvanize” and “advocate” show a willingness to put the success of others first, and to be a servant leader who cares about the individuals on their team.
Choosing to “mentor” someone means teaching them how to go above and beyond their baseline job duties. Advocating for a subordinate means being willing to forgo their stellar work to see them advance to new positions with new responsibilities. These terms position you as a leader that prioritizes your team: their success, their motivation and their opportunities.
Synergy, Cohesion, Optimization
As businesses take a more holistic, de-siloed approach to operations, there’s a push for transformative leaders who can work across the business to forge strong interdepartmental relationships. To find these leaders, businesses are looking for candidates who know the meaning of words like “synergy,” “cohesion” and “optimization.” Can you see the big picture and bring together different viewpoints into a mission-driven legacy of leadership?
There’s more to these buzzwords than keeping tabs on the different lines of business. In the age of transformational data and holistic operations, leaders need to have confidence in pushing for de-siloing initiatives that bring the different focuses on business together under a mission-focused umbrella. Do you have the ability to see the many moving parts behind the bigger picture?
Strategy, Mission, Vision
Speaking of the bigger picture, companies want someone who’s always thinking about it and always focused on it. This is where terms like “strategy,” “mission” and “vision” come into play. These words lend credence to the fact that you’re focused on key objectives and core concepts, and that you’re attuned to the greater goings-on of the company outside of the day-to-day. Strategy-focused, mission-driven leadership will keep the company on-track to achieving and exceeding its goals.
Transformational leaders who want to assume meaningful leadership need to ask themselves, “how does this further the company’s mission?” when faced with a decision. They need to have the vision to see beyond their decisions, to how they affect the trajectory of the company. Individuals who can do this will solidify themselves as forward-thinking leaders who understand the meaning of their position.
Talk the talk, walk the walk
Good leadership inspires change. It’s not enough to speak change into existence with buzzwords and corporate jargon—leaders need to back up their words with action. Transformative leadership starts by setting an example.
If you want to simplify the customer journey, get down into the trenches and understand the customer journey. If you’re concerned about your team’s bandwidth, get them the productivity tools or third-party resources they need to work smarter. Transformative leadership is about manifesting change through action. While there are no shortage of buzzwords to describe these efforts, what matters more is the impact of doing, rather than saying.