"Here's what I'm thinking."
You're in charge, but that doesn't mean you're smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.
Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.
Authority can make you "right," but collaboration makes everyone right--and makes everyone pull together.
"I was wrong."
When you're wrong, say you're wrong. You won't lose respect--you'll gain it.
"That was awesome."
No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone--pick anyone--who does or did something well and say, "Wow, that was great how you..."
Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it--and you'll like yourself a little better, too.
Don't let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
"Can you help me?"
When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, "Can you help me?"
I promise you'll get help . And in the process you'll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen--which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.
We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support...
Say you're sorry, say why you're sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.
"Can you show me?"
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.
"Let me give you a hand."
Don't just say, "Is there anything I can help you with?" Most people will give you a version of the reflexive "No, I'm just looking" reply to sales clerks and say, "No, I'm all right."
Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say "I've got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?" Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
"I love you."
No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it--and every time you feel it.
Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you're upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say--and exactly what affect your words will have.