15 Powerful Phrases That Will Make You A Better Leader

Powerful Phrases That Will Make You Better

Years ago, I was walking down a long office corridor in a nondescript office building. Visiting one of the largest companies in the area, I was being escorted to a conference room. What the purpose of that visit was, I really can’t remember.

But I do remember walking by one room. As I was passing by, I glanced in and saw a man at the front of a room filled with maybe twenty or so people. That would not be in my memory bank except for what I next heard.


“I’m sorry, I screwed that up and let you all down.”


That’s not something you often hear from the front of the room.

I froze, right in the doorway, wondering what he was apologizing for and what was going on. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had no business stopping to watch, so I willed my feet to keep walking.

In those few seconds, I don’t know the details of what happened. But I could discern that this was the boss, and he wasn’t holding back. He had made a mistake and was taking full responsibility for it.

It was impressive. I wonder what the others in that room thought. My guess is that they still talk about this boss of theirs.


“Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose your words well.” -Robin Sharma


There are a few power-packed phrases that anyone can use to change the course of a conversation. Here are a few that leaders use to transform their teams:


“I’m sorry.”

As I said above, this one is powerful because it’s unexpected, and it demonstrates both self-awareness and personal responsibility. That’s not a boss who looks to throw the blame faster than a quarterback about to be sacked.

“Leaders who apologize demonstrate personal accountability.” -Skip Prichard


“Tell me more.”

It’s open-ended. It shows interest. It demonstrates listening skills.


“What’s working?”

Especially good if everyone is complaining. This one refocuses on what’s positive. You can build on what’s working before you get into what’s not.


“I’m proud of you.”

It sounds parental and maybe that’s where its power lies. But I’ve seen this one both as a giver and a receiver. When it’s sincere, it’s a powerful phrase because it is clear and concise.

“Next to excellence is the appreciation of it.” -William Makepeace Thackeray


“How can I be of help?”

I’m often surprised at the response. It may be that simply offering an ear helps enough, but often there are a few specifics that really make a difference and are easy to do.