employee morale, leadership communication

5 Sentences Great Leaders Say Sincerely and Often


Liars need not apply. But leaders who sincerely want to inspire their teams to work at peak performance—simply because they love the job—can change hearts and attitudes with sincere, frequent communication along the following lines.

Phrases to Motivate Your Team Members

“I appreciate you and what you do.”

This comment conveys an attitude of gratitude in general. Who doesn’t want to be appreciated for their contributions? Giving kudos to a team has its place, but expressing sincere appreciation directly to individuals is a top-of-the-line motivator.

“I made a mistake.”

Humility makes a leader approachable and human. Leaders make mistakes every day—

  • Establishing policies that turn out to have unintended consequences
  • Announcing big goals and then never mentioning them again when failing to reach them
  • Exercising poor judgment in hiring decisions
  • Analyzing data incorrectly
  • Selecting an inappropriate time to restructure or reassign roles
  • Failing to apply standards or policies in the same way for all employees
  • Failing to terminate weak performers soon enough––before they wreck morale

Admitting mistakes creates a culture of accountability. When leaders admit mistakes in front of their team or colleagues and hold themselves accountable, that sets the standard for accountability for all. It says that weak or bad behavior—no matter who the performer is—will be held to the same standards.

“How can I help you?”

Such a question does two things: 1) It displays a caring, concerned attitude about the employee’s well-being. 2) It demonstrates that the leader understands their role is to serve and enable, not to be served like royalty.

“Here’s why your work is so useful to us…”

In survey after survey, managers report that they’ve communicated their vision and goals for the organization. Yet in the same surveys, employees say they do not understand the big-picture vision or the goals—much less how their monthly or quarterly tasks or outputs contribute to those goals.

From still other employee satisfaction surveys, we learn that a key motivator for employees to stay with an organization or join a new organization is purpose—feeling that their work really makes a difference to the bottom-line or some cause.

Great leaders keep their employees engaged by making sure they see how their work specifically contributes to the organization’s overall goals—whether that’s profitability, customer satisfaction, solving a healthcare problem, or improving people’s lives in some other specific way.

“You’re good at that.”

Different than appreciation, this comment acknowledges a team member’s competence. Everyone enjoys positive feedback on something they do well. Not flattery. Not praise meant to produce more or better work. Not feedback to motivate someone to accept an additional responsibility or role. Just recognition of excellence at a skill or task. As Mark Twain once observed, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Communicating and recognition of excellence go a long way in engaging and motivating your team members to achieve their best—and love it!


Learn more ways to communicate positively with your team in Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire and Get Things DoneDownload an excerpt by clicking here or on the image below.

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