One of the principles behind our internal Agile/ Servant Leadership program is balancing advocation with inquiry. As the three days progress it becomes clear that people don’t have clarity around what advocation is – yes it is telling and instructing, but there is a more subtle form, where you speak in statements. When you speak in a statement you declare something to be true and that opens the door for disagreement as it often clashes with someone else’s point of view.

In Ontological coaching this is phrased slightly differently, with language having 6 forms and advocation being a blend of assessment and declaration. The assessment part is the important part as it is the part that we don’t see, we speak and can only speak from assessment or opinion or judgement, only we see these as how the world is, as Truth!

Spending a week as a Spiritual Tourist in Dharamsala, surrounded by monks I have bee struck by the noise,mother amount of languaging we do! Why is this related to leadership? Bare with me for a minute. One of the Buddhist principles talks to Right Speech, which wraps up speaking truthfully as well as speaking in a way that is welcomed by others. How addicted we are to speaking has become really obvious for me as I travel in a group. Even in places with signs asking for silence, the group struggles to stay quiet and loud whispers can be heard as observations and comments about the location, how beautiful it is seem to have to be shared, as if without an external validation, they have no validity.

This language addiction was also apparent at the Dalai Lama’s compassion blessing, where some western tourists seemed to prefer to sit at the edges and talk, rather than immerse themselves in the space.

I got to wondering then about something I have observed about leaders (especially those who are higher up in corporate structures), how they use words. It is different to how I use words. I get the sense that good leaders are more mindful of how they use words and when. There seems to be less chatter, not as much opinion sharing or sharing of personal observations of the world. Perhaps it is because in unilateral control we don’t share our reasoning and intent, perhaps is is because in unilateral control the leader assumes that his point of view is known and so ‘the truth’, but perhaps there is something to take away from this, about leadership and language and mindfulness.

How mindful am I with my language and the impact it has ? How do I use language to validate externally my personal reality ?

How intrusive is my language ?

How mindful am I about using language to generate clarity and harmony and so effective action

What would happen if I used fewer words ?

How mindful are you about how you use words and the impact they have ?

Could this be something that is hindering or helping you as a leader ?