06/02/20, Bonnie Clarke, CEO

A new leadership playbook: Leadership is Language by David Marquet

Intent-Based Leadership, David Marquet, #MakeItRemarkable, Leadership

Part of the Human Condition is our preplanned and preprogrammed responses - patterns of behaviour or language in direct response to, and triggered by, certain events or scenarios. Plays if you like. For example, in response to a compliment we feel pleased, happy or grateful and might say so in the words we use to respond. Or something we think is a great idea is criticised by colleagues and we might feel embarrassed, angry, humiliated; and the language we use to respond might not hide these feelings.

In his new book, Leadership is Language, David Marquet argues that most of us are working with an outdated “playbook”: plays that we have been programmed to run from an older paradigm of leadership, the Industrial Revolution. In the early chapters of his book, he explains how we inherited our language of leadership from the industrial era and as a result it’s poorly suited to today’s work environment.

Above all, the promise of David’s book is to reveal not only the new plays appropriate for today’s challenges but also their underlying structure, the logic behind them and how to use them with our teams. Once we understand not only what to say but why and how, we will be able to find the right language for any situation. And this, he suggests, will help establish a more effective working environment, leading to better outcomes across the board and a more satisfying and meaningful work experience for everyone in the organisation.

Leadership is Language introduces six new leadership plays, hinging on specific use of language and each one contrasting with the old, “industrial age”, plays:

  1. Control the clock, instead of obeying the cloc
  2. Collaborate, instead of coercing
  3. Aim for commitment rather than compliance
  4. Complete defined goals instead of continuing work indefinitely
  5. Improve outcomes, rather than proving ability
  6. Connect with your people, instead of conforming to your role
Throughout the book David explains how the new plays work together, revealing an underlying approach that oscillates between action and reflection, doing and deciding. I was lucky enough to read an advance proof copy of the book and for me it has redefined the importance of the language leaders use and the very real impact this has on a team’s engagement and their health and well being. And for me, this is one of the most important responsibilities of a leader.

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