The hidden power of what you say – and what you don’t

Leadership is Language. By David L Marquet

This is an exceptionally useful practical book for leaders making decisions particularly in the virtual world we live in today. There is also some good stories and anecdotes especially the Captain and Crew of The EL Faro and the poor decisions that were made leading to the loss of the ship and all the people […]
93  / 100
My Rating
Leadership is Language. By David L MarquetBook Review by Jonathan Bowman-Perks

This is an exceptionally useful practical book for leaders making decisions particularly in the virtual world we live in today.

There is also some good stories and anecdotes especially the Captain and Crew of The EL Faro and the poor decisions that were made leading to the loss of the ship and all the people onboard..

It was Great to Interview David – see his Podcast on this Website.

Leadership is Language drives home the idea that leadership is about people, and the author argues that leaders cannot lead effectively without an appropriately balanced interplay using words. It is not about being soft and fluffy, instead it is about the leader detaching themselves from notions of invulnerability, certainty, coercion, and conformity. In terms of leadership interactions, whether person to person, digital, handwritten, or verbal; David argues that if you want to be a truly effective leader, you need to think about the words you choose to use and how you apply them.

The book offers us 6 ‘plays’ that we can employ in order to lead effectively and enhance the performance of our teams, all of which ultimately combine to bolster morale, trust, and performance. They are summarised as:

  1. Control the clock, don’t obey the clock. Be able to ‘pause’ at any time to be mindful and deliberate with actions. Facilitate collaboration, broaden perspective.
  2. Collaborate, don’t coerce. Consider letting the doers be the deciders (decisions made where the information is at the lowest levels), you be the decision evaluator; encourage the sharing of ideas, be vulnerable, and recognise and accept that others can contribute to thinking and understanding.
  3. Commit, don’t comply. Commitment will always prevail over compliance because it unlocks discretionary effort in people. In complex, cognitive, custom teamwork ‘discretionary effort is everything’.
  4. Complete, don’t continue. Break tasks down into sizeable chunks and complete them one by one. Celebrate successes, focus on behaviours not characteristics, focus on the journey not the destination.
  5. Improve, don’t prove. Collaborate to get better, focus on achieving excellence in favour of avoiding errors.
  6. Connect, don’t conform. Demonstrate vulnerability and admit to not knowing. Care about what people think, how they feel, and their personal goals. ‘Connect is love’, trust is the outcome.
– Jonathan Bowman-Perks

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