Tuesday, October 25, 2011

3 little leadership words every executive speaker should learn

Sometimes the most eloquent statements are the simplest. That's what Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter thinks. She advises those who want to succeed as business leaders to learn three little words:

There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I'm not thinking of "I love you" (but those are pretty good). The magic words are "I was wrong." Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path. The simple sentence "I was wrong" is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn.

Her post includes examples of business and political leaders who do well or poorly at using those three words (interestingly, all male examples) and how the ability to say "I was wrong" made or broke their careers at different stages. Practice this phrase so it's at the ready when you need it most.

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