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A big part of leadership is what you do—the example you set, the initiative you take, the priorities you demonstrate.

But leaders also need to be mindful of what they say, as words have the power to shape perceptions and impact your team’s morale, to say nothing of their trust in your leadership.

In this post, I want to look at a few common workplace phrases that have no place in the vocabulary of a truly great, transformational leader. Ask yourself how often you say any of these things!

Phrases for Leaders to Avoid

“This probably isn’t what you want to hear…”

This is something that’s invariably followed by bad news—but with this qualifier, you’re somehow making the other person feel like it’s on them; you shift the issue to their side rather than owning the decision you’ve made. Avoid it!

“Work smarter, not harder.”

This implies to the person you’re speaking to that a) you think they’re a dummy and b) you’d actually like to see them exert less effort. How is this good leadership?

“It just wasn’t meant to be!”

When your team encounters a failure, there’s probably a reason for it. Find that reason, and work on how you can avoid it the next time. Don’t just chalk it up to fate!

“Feel free to offer your input.”

Don’t be passive. If you value feedback from your team—and by the way, you should—then ask for it directly.

“Failure is not an option.”

Sure it is. If you don’t want people to fail, though, then leave the floor open for questions and brainstorming. This cliché just shuts down dialogue.

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Why shut down innovation and creativity amongst your team members? Really, why?

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’”

Teams matter, but so do individuals! Don’t make your people feel like they’re interchangeable cogs in a machine.

I’d strike all of these platitudes from your speech—because none of them are doing you a bit of good!