Thursday, January 3, 2013

How can I lead?

As you graduate today, ask yourself, how will you lead. 

Will you use simple and clear language? Will you seek out honesty? When you get honesty back, will you react with anger or with gratitude? As we strive to be more authentic in our communication, we should also strive to be more authentic in a broader sense. I talk a lot about bringing your whole self to work—something I believe in deeply."

From a speech by Sheryl Sandberg

Just yesterday I was thinking about how bad I've gotten at remembering and using big words.

I was playing a bunch of different wordgames with my friends and over and over again I was soundly trounced.  I got a perfect verbal on the SAT and here I am unable to remember basic vocab and spelling.

I felt sorta stupid, but I realized- it's very important for my work, in marketing, to use the simplest language to reach the largest audience.  And I gave myself a pat on the back.

Two days later, I used the word "opined" in a report and confused a senior manager at my office.  I guess I still have a ways to go.

I tend to think in complicated ways, from a very specific perspective.  This means there's often a communication gap when I'm working with other people.

It's hard to tell when I ought to bend to others and when they ought to bend to me. In other words, if neither way is "wrong," who am I to call my way better?

I strive to be authentic, but I am constantly re-contextualizing what that means.

When languages are young, there tends to be a greater number of uses for a word.  As languages mature, the vocabulary get bigger and bigger.

As I mature, I am trying to use a vocabulary of words and ideas that can be understood by most people.

How far can I go with a limited vocabulary?  Do I eventually need to expand my repertoire if I want to express complex ideas?

Post Script

She also mentions a god bit about women in power:

But women at the top c-level jobs are stuck at 15 or 16 % and has not moved in a decade. Not even close to 50%. We need to acknowledge openly that gender remains an issue at the highest levels of leadership. The promise of equality is not equality. We need to start talking about this. We need to start talking about how women underestimate their abilities compared to men and for women, but not men, success and likeability are negatively correlated.

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