Watch Your Mouth! The Dangers of Leadership Jargon

January 07, 2007

I love Scot Adams. He understands managementʻs drive to “moralify” the help, and the toxic potential of leadership jargon without leadership action.

This kind of leader needs brave followers, people willing to say the emperor has no clothes. These are the “courageous followers” Ira Chaleff writes about.

Among other things, a courageous follower resists bullying. Leadership jargon at its worst becomes a battering ram, a silencer, a performance that lets followers know to sit down and be passive. In his blog, Chaleff writes:

“The power of followers goes beyond simply supporting the leader or withdrawing that support. Followers can also shape leaders to be more of their better selves, and draw less of their dark side (that most of us have) and which tends to emerge under excessive stress. How?

Followers can be very clear that they, too, want to succeed, and will vigorously support the leaders’ efforts to make the team successful. But they will not tolerate any bullying behavior. I have seen this work with junior staff towards the member of Congress for whom they worked, for teachers with their principals and for administrative staff with their senior executives. This is much more effective than people often believe possible. And the literature on bullying behavior says that if two or three people stand together against the bullying behavior it almost always stops.

So followers, continue to use your power to support good leadership, and, if necessary, withdraw support from bad leadership. But remember that you can also help leaders use their gifts well while getting them to stow away their toxic behaviors – – as they will not be countenanced here!”

So Dilbert isnʻt far off. Laughable jargon-jabbing deserves an honest response. And an honest response is what courageous followership is all about.


  1. […] of good leadership development is bridging vision from theory into clear, effective practice.Too many managers fail in leadership initiatives because they’re applying techniques they only… theory. The key to becoming a better leader is finding ways to live the values and beliefs behind […]


  2. […] the leaders who inspired you with care! Only you know enough about your organization to turn  jargon into jewels, theory into […]


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