It is said that actions speak louder than words, but here are some phrases that speak volumes. Forget about whether or not your boss uses these. This is more about you because you can adapt and adopt them at any time.
“That looks great… job well done!” Yes, catch someone doing something well and praise them.
“How am I doing?” Invite people to give you feedback. This is a question I used in every single performance review I ever gave. If you take the answer seriously, you create new channels of communication and respect.
“I was wrong.” Contrary to some, admitting mistakes is not sign of weakness, but rather the mark of a secure leader. And I probably don’t have to remind anyone that it works just as well in other relationships.
“Tell me about yourself.” Entering any new assignment with your eyes and ears open is wise. Leave your preconceptions at the door. Find out all you can about your customers, associates, suppliers, subordinates, bosses, etc. You may adjust your course once you glean and understand the people and the processes around you.
“How do you think we should do this?” Rather that playing the enabling all-wise Swami in the corner office and dispensing wisdom and decrees, grow people by having them come up with 2-3 recommendations. And you might consider giving people freedom to fail.
“We’ll get ‘em next time!” Show people how to cope with failure and a mature leader does this in a calm, caring manner – not with blather and bluster. Encourage people to take calculated risks and then see the magic that results.
“Look at the silly thing I did.” Take yourself lightly and bring humor into the world place so lighten up even when you have a serious purpose.
“We’re in this together.” Good leaders are able to convince their group that the interests of one are the interests of all and their share the commitment.
“Do you have the tools you need to do your job?” This along with “How can we do better?” are loaded questions, but offer the opportunity to really cement a good working relationship. Don’t ask them if you are not prepared for the feedback. Isn’t one of the main agendas of leadership, however, to provide the tools and resources to the people entrusted to carry out an agenda?
“I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.” This statement is the epitome of honesty and good communication. Everyone, and I mean everyone, can sense a phony, and few expect anyone to know everything. Finding out and following up are what turns someone who doesn’t know into someone who can.
“I know we can do it!” or “Let’s be the best team (company, division, etc.) in this company (state, industry, world). Set high goals and expectations that are shared by everyone, and share your optimism.
“Watch me!” People in positions of responsibility are watched like hawks by everyone. The effective ones lead by example, and most people are eager to follow to positive role model and disheartened by a negative one.
“What will it take to keep this happening again or how can we do better?” Leaders move beyond the blame game and are forward focused to continuous improvement. More importantly, when you ask people for their opinion and it is adopted, they are much more inclined to make it work than supported an edict from above.
“What’s your idea?” Early on I discovered that the people who perform their tasks have a much better grasp of them than I could ever attain, so why not ask the experts for their opinions?
As I said, words are only the first part, but they are important. You have to follow them up by then “walking the talk.”