Six “Hot” Words Leaders Should Avoid

Disruptive. Decentralized. Maverick. Revolutionary. Uncompromising. VUCA.

Is this what we pay leaders to provide? Lord, I hope not.

People expect professional leaders to create and maintain order, not chaos.

So why do business managers and executives love these 6 words so much? There’s a time and place for inspiring change, but it can’t be the norm. Most organizations, most of the time, should be relatively happy with what they do and how they're doing it. Shouldn’t they?

What would you rather have your people say about you:

That you’re disruptive, or stable?

That your group is decentralized, or cohesive?

That you’re a maverick, or consistent?

That you foment revolution, or facilitate evolution?

That you’re uncompromising, or flexible?

That you expect your people to operate in a constant state of VUCA*, or one of SWIH**?

*an unsexy military acronym for ‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity’

** ‘Situation Well In Hand,’ perhaps first used by 19th century journalist Richard Harding Davis to describe what to expect when the Marines arrive somewhere.

An exercise for you:

  1. Make a short list of words you think people use to describe your leadership style.
  2. Write down each word’s opposite.
  3. Consider, long and hard, which of the two lists would best serve your team, your clients, or your organization.

Related: Want To Win? Focus on Activities Instead of Results