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4 Impactful Conversation Phrases to Improve Your Leadership Training Today

Beth Thornton

December 5, 2019

In a Brandon Hall Group study, researchers reported that 83% of organizations said targeted development for leadership at all levels is essential or very important. While leadership development and training is on the minds of many organizational chiefs, what are the first steps to reaching this goal? To best develop your leaders, the most critical skill to address is communication.

Leaders cannot lead effectively unless they can clearly convey their expectations, and they must use their language to provoke self-leading that helps other employees grow and develop. By initiating the right conversations, leaders can achieve these outcomes and reach for and set goals as a team.

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But how do you start these conversations on a practical level? You can use these four impactful conversation phrases to start improving leadership today:

1. “I Want To Be Completely Transparent With You.”

By starting a conversation with this kind of honesty, you can strip away any doubts that maybe you're sugar-coating the news or feedback you are about to give. Believe it or not, 25% of employees do not trust their employers. By initiating a conversation this way, you display openness, which leads to more engaged employees and teams.

Try to avoid starting these types of conversations with phrases like, “Let me be honest with you...” or “If I’m being completely honest…” because this may give the impression you were not honest during other conversations you may have had in the past . You can also use this phrase to start a hard conversation, such as solving a difficult problem or stressing a significant feedback point.

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Transparency is a practice that’s best to use in all situations to build trust. It can be in response to idea proposals, team goals, formal performance reviews, or when having conversations with employees about their general career aspirations. By opening the dialogue with honesty, you can hear feedback and goals from your employees’ perspectives, potentially even changing your own opinion or view on the matter. It’s essential to know the goal in any situation, and working collaboratively to define clear and attainable goals is the best way to progress forward as a team — and the organization as a whole.

2. “Let’s Try It Your Way.”

After an employee has proposed an idea, this is a great way to recognize the idea’s ownership and proceed with the implementation. It lets the individual know you are open to their idea and trust their expertise to move forward with this plan of action and see how it turns out. While this conversation phrase recognizes the employee’s plan, it also conveys a sense of responsibility.

What better way to acknowledge these smart ideas than with recognition and positive feedback. Recognition and feedback for an employee’s ideas and efforts is an easy way to achieve high-level impact on engagement, feelings of loyalty, and even productivity. This impactful and meaningful practice offers leaders the opportunity to show individuals that they are valued and appreciated members of their team and that their ideas are welcome.

Productivity aside, recognizing employees has been proven to increase feelings of adequacy and self-confidence in their work. A staggering 75% of employees have said that recognition from higher-level leadership has increased their confidence in their skills. A more highly confident team, in turn, leads to increased levels of motivation and engagement. Utilizing simple phrases such as, “That’s a great idea” or “We can certainly try it that way” are easy steps to give your employees the appreciation they desire.

3. “How Do You Feel About That?”

Many times in organizations decisions are made using numbers and figures, so it can be easy to forget the humans at the company who are doing the work are not just another number and do have some feelings on the matter. Emotions influence many individuals, and taking the time to ask how someone may feel about a particular situation or decision can help employees know they are indeed seen and their opinions matter. For the best outcome, use this conversation phrase when you sense there is something the employee may have left unsaid or you are addressing a conflict resolution.

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An important thing to remember is that the managers and leaders set the tone of the workplace. While data and figures drive profits and decisions, leaders need to recognize that their employees often don’t operate in the same function as management. By taking a step back to determine the mindset of individuals, managers can help to foster a supportive and productive environment.

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Leaders who consciously work to improve their emotional intelligence find that the effects of their efforts trickle down through the company. Emotional intelligence is a skill that leaders should always strive to develop and improve upon, as it is invaluable in creating a dynamic and profitable team culture. The next time you meet with employees about a task or performance review, take the time to ask them how they are feeling about their workload and efforts. The positive effects of this small step towards understanding their mental and emotional state might surprise you.

4. “What’s Working?”

Refocusing on positive aspects is a great leadership tactic to get everyone back on track, especially when it feels like nothing seems to be going right lately. Ask what is working when grumbles start to get louder. Starting with the positives and building from there can help steer everyone in the right direction to achieve the organizational, team, and individual goals.


Leaders who work to rewire the mindset of dis-engaged or frustrated employees and the culture of their workplace find that their efforts bring back positive results. By focusing on the positive aspects of work rather than the negatives, managers and employees can expect lowered rates of stress and a more satisfied workforce. Refocusing the attitudes of employees doesn’t happen quickly. However, by taking strategic and straightforward steps to keep yourself and employees accountable, you can begin to see positive change.

The key to this strategy is to practice purposefulness. Leaders who are clear in their expectations, goals, and positivity find that their companies perform more successfully, even in times of economic uncertainty. By taking the time to promote clarity at all levels of an organization, motivation and success levels of both leaders and employees can increase drastically.

Refocusing on practical points of leadership like communication skills is a great way to boost leadership development and training. By using these conversation phrases, leaders in your organization will feel better equipped to reach the set goals. Need help with your leadership development? Book a demo with Inspire Software and learn how we can supercharge your company with a transparent look into your goals, team, and the leaders of today and tomorrow.employee engagement CTA