The Potter’s Wheel of Leadership

Listen to your language. It points to the future.

Habits of speech are the potter’s wheel of leadership. Both you and your organization are formed by the language you repeat.

Choose your language before it forms your future.

In order to lead, you must lead your personal habits of speech.

habits of speech are the potter's wheel of leadership.png


Reflect on your language. 

  1. Do you feel optimistic?
  2. Would you like to hang around with you?
  3. Are you powerful or helpless?

Language is a leading indicator.

Intentional focus:

The words you say point the way. 

Choose the focus of your words:

  1. Vision or history.
  2. Opportunity or adversity.
  3. Solutions or problems.
  4. Success or failure.
  5. Strength or weakness.
  6. Likes or dislikes.
  7. Honor or dishonor.
  8. Happiness or unhappiness.
  9. Beauty or ugliness.
  10. Excellence or average.

I’m not suggesting you ignore problems or negative topics. I am saying that successful leaders spend more time talking about solutions than problems, for example.

Successful leaders create common language.

Shared direction:

Habits of speech create environments and establish direction. Direction determines destination.

Shared direction requires shared language.

7 ways to create shared language:

  1. Explain the power of shared language to all leaders.
  2. Talk about the same things. Choose two or three topics and talk about them all the time. You dilute your leadership when you talk about too many things.
  3. Invite leaders to craft shared language. “How will we talk to our teams?”
  4. Use the same words. It’s not boring. It’s reinforcing.
  5. Ask the same questions. “How are we engaging new people,” for example.
  6. Listen for common language. When you hear it, reward it.
  7. Confront sideways language. “That’s not our focus right now.”

People who talk alike move in the same direction.

Words create environments, set direction, and make people feel they belong.

What ineffective language do you hear leaders using?

How might leaders create shared language?