Your Company Language- is it Driving the Results you Want?

Guest post by Great Leadership monthly contributor Beth
Armknecht Miller:


recently had the opportunity to hear David Marquet, author of Turn the Ship
Around speak about the frameworks to creating leadership throughout an
organization. And one of the questions he posed to the audience was “How
do employees talk to each other?

This got
me thinking about the dozens of companies I have worked and currently work with
and how they communicated with each other. 
Those that have a specific “cultural language” generally have a
much stronger set of values and culture, and ultimately experienced greater

to each other is actually a small portion of communications within an
organization today. So much of communications is electronic. So, what percent
of the time are you spending actually talking to others?

the amount of communications face to face is important to the understanding of
the message being delivered and received. Yet the delivery method is just a
part of communications.  It is more about
the language being used that influences the culture and ultimate success of
your company.

acronyms, and stories are key components to your company language. But most
companies are not purposeful with the use of their language. The following questions
can help you uncover how purposeful your organization uses language, the
protocols you have or don’t have, and potential areas to improve.

1. How do
you teach new employees about company acronyms, stories and
lore? Company
stories are important to your culture and will provide a means to sharing and
demonstrating your values. New employees are often unaware of your stories and
the values they are based on. Acronyms can be confusing and cause a roadblock
for new employees’ productivity.

2. Who is
the keeper of company language?
To be purposeful using language, there needs to
be someone responsible for making sure language is managed. There will be terms
used that need to be understood consistently across an organization. It may be
a common word like “excellence”. Does everyone understand what it
means within the context of a specific situation? What is excellence in service
or accounting for example?  The
definitions will be different.

3. Who
are key influencers of your company language?
There are influencers in your
organization who often impact the language of others. Understanding who these
people are is important. They can help to manage and keep your language on the
path you want. Language is less likely to become derailed when the language
keepers and language influencers are working in tandem.

4. How
does your language influence performance and decision making?
There are both
positive and negative words. The ratio of positive and negative words can
influence the psyche and morale of employees. 
By identifying words that need to be eliminated from the company’s
dictionary because they aren’t productive and increasing the use of words that
produce positive energy and forward velocity you will be strengthening your

Once you
understand the gaps in your company’s language you can start building a plan
for improvement by involving both the language keeper and influencers in the


Armknecht Miller
of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a
leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of
CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She
is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a
Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit or or follow her on twitter at