Throughout my career, I’ve heard them.  I’ve even used them.  You probably have as well.  What are they?  Catch phrases.  All too often people will drop these over used, over hyped phrases when you least expect them.  A chance encounter at the water cooler, a meeting, a presentation or public speaking event.  These are all opportunities to be ambushed.

Lately, particularly in politics, I feel like some of our leaders are using catch phrases more than ever before.  They are different from those used in the past, and from my perspective, more aggressive, more polarizing.  Our nation continues to struggle as it seeks to recover from a difficult time in its history and as we go, so goes the global economy.  We want a better tomorrow (wait a minute, that’s a catch phrase, isn’t?).

Unfortunately it seems like I’ve heard more catch phrases than actions and plans that will make a difference.  There’s a time and a place for everything but in the end leadership is about just that, leading.    Empathy, forward thinking, positive speech and action.  These are just a few key qualities of a good leader.  This is what our people expect.

Catch phrases are nice.  They often generate excitement and get the flywheel of momentum moving.  If the phrases aren’t backed up by actual leadership progress will eventually slow, momentum will dissipate, and people will move in the direction (and at the pace) they think is best.  Your people will see right through you.

Don’t be a catch phrase leader.  Really lead. Your people need you to do just that.