What Is the language of conscious leadership?

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Dec 19 2022 by Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic Print This Article

In a world of ever-evolving business language, buzzwords have become a mainstay in the corporate lexicon. A recent study conducted by Preply has revealed that despite how one may feel about them, these buzzwords, also known as business jargon or corporate speak, are here to stay. The study surveyed 1,550 US workers and found that 20 percent of respondents admitted to using buzzwords in their everyday conversations and workplaces.

Language is a powerful tool at work. Words have their own energy and meaning; they are capable of uplifting or tearing down someone. They must be selected with care, both in business and personal relationships. My research-based framework 'The Management Shift,' is a five-level framework aimed at shifting old command and control mindsets to 21st century (conscious) leadership mindsets.

The framework focuses on shifting leaders' mindsets from one in which employees are told what to do to one in which organisations have a strong teamwork ethos, as well as one in which collaboration, integrity, purpose, transparency, accountability, and a caring culture are embedded at the very core of the organisation, so that the organisation not only survives but ultimately thrives. Each level is characterised by specific patterns of thought, language used, behaviour, leadership style, and organisational outcomes.

Figure 1. The 5-Level Management Shift Framework

Leadership today requires more than just making decisions about employee performance or compliance. A conscious leader is one who considers all parties who are affected by their decisions - from employees and managers to executive leaders and board members. Being a conscious leader also means being open to different perspectives, ideas, collaboration and understanding the different points of view of all team members, as well as building trust with all of those around them.

If we consider the 5-Level framework above, we can identify common buzzwords and language which are frequently used by leaders and employees in Level 4 (enthusiastic and collaborative) based organisations.

The top 10 Level 4 buzzwords:

  1. Caring
  2. Collaborative
  3. Enthusiastic
  4. Purpose
  5. Engaging
  6. Fun
  7. Empowering
  8. Transparency
  9. Integrity
  10. Accountability

According to the Preply study, more job seekers are searching for buzzwords like "empower", "resilient", "fun", "amazing" and "passionate" in job descriptions and advertisements, words which also correspond to some of the words used to describe Level 4 of The Management Shift Framework.

When striving to create a thriving workplace, organisations should be listening for specific language in their everyday management and leadership of their staff. A caring culture that promotes collaboration, enthusiasm, and purposeful work is critical for any company that wants to succeed.

In a Level 3 organisation, buzzwords such as "Stressful", "Boring", "Micromanaged", "Biased" and "Unmotivated" and "Disengaged" might be a relevant example of a Level 2 or 3 work culture. These words imply that there is stagnant energy within the culture or the team or organisation as a as well as a lack of motivation among other staff and team members.

Another barometer which can be utilised within an organisation to assess the organisational culture and language could be The Management Shift related, the 6 Box Leadership diagnostics tool. This online diagnostic tool is designed for assessment of leadership teams and an entire organisation, to discover hidden strengths and weaknesses in the areas of Culture, Relationships, Individuals, Strategy, Systems and Resources. It uncovers whether an organisation already operates at Level 4 or not and what needs to be done to shift to Level 4 culture.

When organisations have an awareness of the language that is being utilised in their workplace, they can develop strategies to ensure staff feel supported, motivated and engaged. It is also not uncommon for organisations to adopt these buzzwords into their values, but only if those values are genuine, trackable and measurable. This will ultimately lead to greater engagement among employees which would result in better organisational outcomes such as increased productivity, performance and profit.

The buzzwords leaders use on daily basis can also have a huge influence on collective thinking patterns which, in turn, inform the leadership style adopted within an organisation. It is up to an organisation to create a culture of respect and cooperation using the power of positive language. This will foster an environment of mutual understanding, where everyone's input is valued.

Leaders must be prepared to take action, remain motivated, and be open to learning new concepts in order to successfully implement conscious leadership practices into their organisation. Through conscious leadership, organisations can experience greater efficiency, improved communication, and more meaningful relationships between employees and stakeholders.

About The Author

Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic
Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic

Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic is Professor of Leadership and Management at Hult International Business School (Ashridge) and founder and CEO of Management Shift Solutions Limited. She is the author of 'The Management Shift - How to Harness the Power of People and Transform Your Organization for Sustainable Success' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and 'Humane Capital - How to Create a Management Shift to Transform Performance and Profit' (Bloomsbury, 2018).