Leading Through Language

Book Leading Through Language

Choosing Words That Influence and Inspire



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Communications consultant Bart Egnal writes engagingly about the role that inspiring communication plays in leadership. Drawing upon his experience teaching senior executives to speak effectively, he shows how the terminology you use helps or hinders you as a leader. Many executives find jargon irksome, but continue to use it. Egnal explores why this is so; he explains how to wield jargon as an effective tool and when not to use it at all. He tracks jargon on a spectrum from “useful” to “damaging” while discussing surefire methods for exploiting it effectively. He also discusses ways to harness your use of language to reach your audience, large or small. getAbstract recommends his insightful manual to leaders, managers and public speakers.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the use of jargon can boost or impede leadership,
  • How to use or avoid six types of jargon and
  • How to use the “language of leadership” and the “leaders’ mind-set” to communicate, persuade and lead.


“The Jargon Spectrum”

Your use of language can help or hinder your leadership. Specialized terminology – such as “jargon, buzzwords and corporate-speak” – suggests an absence of sharp, thoughtful planning or speech writing and can undermine your effectiveness. In fact, the business world uses jargon so often that it hampers real leadership. Many executives find such slang irksome, but can’t stop using it. They believe people take them more seriously if they use high-sounding, insider argot.

Consider the benefits and hazards of jargon by visualizing it on a spectrum. On the “useful” side of the spectrum, you’ll find “shorthand jargon, shared-identity jargon” and “assumption-driven jargon.” On the “damaging” end of the spectrum, speakers might use “obfuscation jargon, inflation jargon” and “lack-of-clarity jargon.”

When Jargon Helps

Every industry and profession has its own terminology that can generate useful jargon. Using shared-identity jargon with people who understand it can foster a sense of belonging. You could build rapport with a fellow insider by using this jargon judiciously. Within an organization, certain specialized terms add up to a common...

About the Author

Business writer Bart Egnal is president and CEO of The Humphrey Group communications consultancy.

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