I want to talk about a little thing that’s been bugging me lately.
It’s not a big thing. It’s not really all that critical to my overall life satisfaction.
But, it’s bugging me. Nagging at me. Consistently.
It revolves around how people talk about their work teams.
Here’s what I hear from some people in our industry:
“I asked my team to look at it. We’ll have an answer to you shortly.”
“My team is made up of social media strategists and community managers.”
“I’m getting my team together for a brainstorm later today.”
What is consistent about all these statements? The use of the word: “my.”
Why is that a big deal?
Because we’re talking about a TEAM. Not a person.
And once you start saying “my team” it makes it about you–NOT the team.
Instead, notice the difference when the statements include “our”:
“I asked our team to look at it. We’ll have an answer to you shortly.”
“Our team is made up of social media strategists and community managers.”
“Our team is getting together for a brainstorm later today.”
OK, so you’re laughing. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill, Arik. This is not worth writing about.
I beg to differ.
I think how you talk about your team makes all the difference in the world.
Think about a basketball team. More specifically, listen to any coach after an college basketball game. What do they say? You hear a lot of “our guys” and “our team”–you RARELY hear the coach of an college (or NBA, for that matter) basketball team say “my team.” And why would he? It’s not HIS team–that goes against every logical meaning of the word TEAM.
A team is comprised of multiple people all working toward a common goal. That’s a team. Multiple people, each doing something to move the team forward.
We’ve all heard the saying: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team'”.
Yet, I continue to hear people talking about “my team” in the PR world all the time.
I’ll tell you why. One word: Ego.
People use “my” because it’s all about them. Sure, sometimes it slips and people just say it. I get it. I’ve heard some of my best friends in the business say it–sometimes it just slips.
But, other times, I hear people say it over and over again. And to me, that’s a red flag. An indication that this leader really isn’t a leader. And, he/she is certainly not a coach or mentor to anyone. People that are successful coaches and mentors don’t talk in terms of “me”, “I” or “my”. They talk in terms of “our” and “we.”
Language matters, people. Really, it does.
People pay attention to the words you use. I know it doesn’t seem like it most days–but I believe they do.
So, if you’re in a leadership position, think about the way in which you talk about and to your team. Are you using inclusive words like “we” and “our”–or are you slipping and using the “Is” and “Me”s too much?
Time to really think about the words we use when we talk about our teams, folks.
photo credit: Image from page 53 of “Spalding’s official collegiate basket ball guide” (1905) via photopin (license)