I want to come out directly and say it: I’m in love with “we.” And, I think you should be too.
Yesterday I met a good friend of mine in from Denver at a coffee shop to catch up. During our meeting he asked me about work and what’s been occurring here. Midway through the conversation he stopped me and said, “I really like how you keep using we.”
I had never really thought about it. A few years ago I made a concerted effort to stop using “I” and start saying “we.” I wanted to show that as a leader I saw the big picture from a team perspective, and I wanted to stray away from anyone thinking I was in it all for myself.
Additionally, I don’t believe I can do anything without our strong team behind me. Likewise, our teammates can’t do anything individually without the rest of the team.
So, I made the effort to remove I, and go down the path of we. You’re probably saying, “Sure I get your point,” but how does one word change the dynamic of our team?
Imagine yourself sitting in a conference room, and every few minutes you, or another leader on your team, keeps saying things like, “I want us to do this,” or “I don’t like that,” or “I like when we used my idea for…”
You may not see it immediately, but adjust your language ever so slightly and you receive a massive shift in teamwork. “Could we do this?” “Could we see other options?” “What about that idea we discussed last meeting?”
By adjusting how you phrase comments to your team you establish more buy-in from individuals and you’ll begin to get greater feedback. You are no longer giving a command, but you’re bringing your team on board.
Hopefully, as a leader your team believes in your vision. But also as a leader, your team is striving to impress you and show their worth. When you continually say “I,” you are suggesting to your team that you are out on your own. You are stating that you don’t need the team and they are simply workhorses for reaching your own destination.
This is probably not what you’re trying to convey to your team, and you probably don’t even realize it when it comes out of your mouth. You hired your team because you trust in their ability to help you and your company reach the promised land. If you truly could have done it on your own, you would never have hired them.
My challenge to you is to begin removing “I” from your vocabulary. No one cares that you did this or that, but they want to hear that you, your team and “we” got there together. In conclusion, the title is in jest — I’m sure my wife, and your spouse, would truly enjoy you having a love affair with the term “we” as opposed to always saying “I.”
Tyler Montgomery is the Editor-in-Chief of Club Solutions Magazine. For thoughts on his blog, the print issue or the industry, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.