3 Bad Words Even Good Leaders Use

Words matter when you’re a leader, and not all words are equally useful.

In fact, you should banish at least three from your leadership vocabulary. Nobody wins when you use these words regularly, and they might be damaging your leadership without you even realizing it.

I end up using these words when I fail to take decisive actions.

I use these three words

  • as substitutes for action
  • as substitutes for specifics
  • as substitutes for clarity

Chances are you might as well.

So which three words trip up leader after leader and team after team? Here they are:

1. Someone

You know how this comes up. Someone should do something about that. Someone should fix that. Someone should step up. Someone really means no one.

Here are some handy substitutes:

I will do something about it today.

I’m going to ask Josh to have that fixed by Friday.

Every single day, I’m going to ask five people to tackle the problem until someone steps up and says yes.

You can’t build the future on someone.

2. Something

You’ve said it. We need to do something about that. I’m sure that’s true.

But the translation is that no one will do anything about it at all. Not until you become clear and specific.

Exactly what needs to be done? If you can’t define the solution, you haven’t even properly diagnosed the problem. But answer those specific questions and things change. Then you have a plan.

3. Someday

Leaders can’t help but dream about someday. I dream and think about the future every single day. But someday is also the graveyard of too many dreams and far too much vision.

You’re going to hire a dream staff member someday.

You’re going to radically change your church someday.

You’re going to break that bad habit someday.

You’re going to get organized someday.

And someday never comes. Days become months which become years and absolutely nothing happens.

Someday actually means never.

As my friend Casey Graham says, deadlines drive decisions.

Putting a date on every intention might scare the life out of you, but that’s awesome. You’ll get things done. You will.

Jeffrey E. Garten has rightly pointed out that vision without execution is a hallucination. Far too many leaders hallucinate. And they’re not actually leading anyone when they do.

If you can’t put a calendar date on it, then put a year on it and reverse engineer toward it. Sure, you’ll encounter setbacks, but only the determined eventually break through.

I’m a far better leader when I stop talking about someone doing something someday.

You are too.