Your Leadership Wake: How Do You Speak to Others?

This previous post had broken down the understanding of leadership impact and the Leadership Wake and introduced this series of posts regarding where the wake from a leader’s action can be observed.

It outlined how a leader — or anyone for that matter — can create and leave behind a positive, exhausting, or neutral experience for those around them based on how they approach different areas such as collaboration, communication, and expression.

It asked us to consider what a leader leaves in their wake.

“The words and tone used today can set the tone for the interactions and communication of tomorrow. “

This post is one of many in the series that breaks down a few of the areas in which a leader has the ability – and opportunity, depending on how you look at it – to establish their impact and set the resulting ripple effect and tone for each of the areas to be covered.

To assess a targeted area of their leadership impact, each post will outline a consideration the leader should take into account by answering a specific question.

In this post, the question which should be asked by a leader is…

How Do I Speak to Others?

How one speaks to another person is a powerful tool.  The tone in one’s words, or the actual words used, can set the comfort level for all those either involved in or witnessing an interaction. Because it can either put someone on edge or at ease, approach is everything.

The words and tone used today can set the tone for the interactions and communication of tomorrow. And the success of any group is built off of the internal interactions and communications — most powerfully, those which are verbal.

The Positive Experience

In the positive experience, when it comes to speaking, it is hard to determine who the boss is. The communication is very conversational with statements and questions going both ways. Eye contact, speech, and body language all encourage openness and honesty.

As a result, the workforce is more at ease, as each person knows exactly where they stand based on how speech is used. The speech conveys honesty, trust, and consideration, which make up a net of affirmation that puts people more at ease. The workforce can use its full energy in its work instead of losing it to apprehension felt due to uncertainty and poor communication.

The result is a thriving organization and environment. People are more open, productive, and committed. The work is reinforced by the trust placed in the demeanor of the organization by the members of the organization, its partners and stakeholders.

This is the positive experience because, put simply, people enjoy being in their environment. They know where they stand. There’s more of a sense of “we,” instead of an “us” (workforce) versus “them” (management) dynamic and mentality.

The Exhausting Experience

In the exhausting experience, the exchange can be more one-sided or standoffish. The leader’s tone may sound more combative, almost seeking a “gotcha” moment, seemingly hoping to catch the other person off-guard or unprepared.

As a result, the workforce is run-down—and defeated, in the worst cases. The workforce might feel apprehension around management due to the lack of respect in the communication. Distrust both ways is almost palpable.

The result is an organization which is broken. Productivity suffers, leading to an sub-par service or product. Only the minimal level of quality may be met, because no one is enticed into investing their trust and energy into the organization.

This is the exhausting experience because, in essence, there is a lack of respect. Lack of respect and proper communication leads to a divide in thoughts, a split in priorities, and a deterioration of trust. The environment becomes toxic.

“How one speaks to another person is a powerful tool.  The tone in one’s words, or the actual words used, can set the comfort level for all those either involved in or witnessing an interaction.”

The Neutral Experience

In the neutral experience, speaking is pretty much meant solely to exchange facts. There are neither actions to encourage or sound supportive of an employee, nor is there any talking down to or disrespecting anyone.

As a result, the workforce is somewhat stagnant. Spirit and productivity are neither broken down nor built up or encouraged. At the leadership level, this experience is merely picking up the ball and continuing the same communication game, not elevating its status and effectiveness.

The result is an empty environment. Just enough gets done. No one is empowered or supported, and no one is cut down or disrespected. It’s just about punching the clock and passing the time.

This is the neutral experience because there is no push to grow or attempt to restrict. Don’t expect much either way. Don’t expect to get to the best people can do, or the best that they’re capable of.


How would you want others to announce you? How would you want others to convey who you are in a few words, and in a limited amount of time?

This is the power you have in your speech. People can understand who you are and what your intentions are by how you talk to others.

People don’t need to be profiling specialists to have a decent grasp on who someone is and what his or her style is. It’s merely common-sense listening on their part. So it has to be common-sense conveyance on your part.

Your message is yours to control. Pay attention.

Here are other questions to consider for the leadership wake:

So, What About You?

  • What does your form of speaking to others look like?
  • Looking back, based on different forms of interacting with speech, how did they shape working relationships?
  • What tweaks can you make in how you speak to others, to improve interactions?

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