Want to be a better leader? Try improving your vocabulary.

No, I’m not talking adding the latest management and leadership buzzwords or jargon to your repertoire. If that’s what you’re looking for, try the Wall Street Journal’s Business Buzzwords Generator. You’ll be able to walk around uttering leadership gibberish such as “Moving forward, it’s time to act with strategic vector and transform our team bandwidth” and “Looking forward to 2015, ideation will be key to our ability to impact the solutions holistically.”

I’m talking about adding some powerful phrases to your vocabulary that will engage and motivate, encourage people to come up with ideas, and inspire commitment.

It’s not an exhaustive list – just a collection I’ve picked up over the years – so please feel free to add your own in the comments section.

  1. “How can I be a better leader?” Credit goes to Marshall Goldsmith for this one.
  2. (read more…)

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One of the more puzzling and precarious realities about how owners lead businesses these days is the vast numbers who do so with little to no accountability. Every other employee is subject to scrutiny and performance reviews. Except if you’re the company king, The Boss Boss. But is that truly viable and sustainable?

Kudos are certainly due to owners for having the smarts, vision, courage and stamina to own the company. Many of you actually founded it. Congratulations. But owners would readily admit that nothing automatic comes with ownership. Infallibility, impeccable judgment and vital leadership skills are not “bundled” with the ownership package. And we all espouse the wisdom of continuous improvement — for our staff.

It just doesn’t occur to many of us owners that we need someone to hold us accountable. It’s an honest mistake. After all, we are accountable every day in so many ways to customers and employees and market forces. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

Q. What is one thing I can do to ensure that we are actively promoting and/or recruiting qualified women to higher levels in our organization?

yec_Maren Hogan1. Reach out

With all of the social tools and professional networks at our disposal, you can virtually trip over great talent and reach out to them. A surprising number of the workforce is willing to make a job change for the right reasons. Give them those reasons. — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

yec_Travis Steffen2. Be gender-blind

I’m not a huge believer in a gender-balanced workplace just for the sake of having it. As an employer, the most important thing to me is getting the job done as well as humanly possible. (read more…)

How much time each week do you spend making decisions? Likely, many of the choices you make are almost automatic, requiring little thought: Attend that meeting or not? Stay late to finish the report tonight, or come in early tomorrow? And then, there are more challenging choices, such as whether or not to terminate an underperforming employee’s employment.

Your daily work life is made up of numerous tasks, all of which require decision-making. According to Sheena Iyengar, a Professor of Business at Columbia Business School and author of “The Art of Choosing,” the average CEO works on 139 tasks per week. In a TED talk called “How to Make Choosing Easier,” Iyengar reports that scientists who documented the many decisions related to those 139 tasks found that 50% of the choices related to task completion took nine minutes or less. Not all decisions were reached quickly, however; about 12% of CEO decisions required an hour or more of thought. (read more…)

A nervous group walks into the conference group. They are still trying to shake off the holiday haze, but are totally alert and loaded for bear. It’s our vice president of sales’ first all-hands call of the year and the team has honed in on one agenda item: This year’s quota.

Loni comes on and confidently runs through our end of year results. Then she sheepishly tackles the quota. “We expect that quotas will be handed out at the sales leadership meeting in a few weeks. We hope to see…”

Rizzo thrusts out his arm and stamps down the mute button of the Polycom star phone that sits in the middle of the long oak table. “This is looking at lot like last year, boss.” He stares at me. The rest quickly follow suit.“I suppose we won’t get our objectives until July again,” he finishes.

Loni keeps on talking, but nobody is listening. (read more…)