The idea of managing focuses on how processes and systems affect the bottom line, while “leadership speak” seeks to coach and empower employees, argues Peter Arthur-Smith. “During these difficult COVID-19 times, it is very clear that those with a management speak mindset laid off many of their people very quickly; whereas those operating with leadership speak hung on to their people as long as possible,” he writes.



There are forms of key “speak” within any organization, as depicted in the accompanying image: Specialist, Management and Leadership “speak.” Understanding each is important, as they have a major influence on your venture’s culture. And we all know that our enterprise’s culture ultimately has a significant impact on its eventual performance.

First, let’s quickly address specialist speak; while it’s not the main focus of this article, it’s still important to understand. This is because “specialist speak” is the messaging that feeds a commercial venture’s customers’ appetite. In the case of non-profits, it’s what donors and beneficiaries wish to hear. With academia, it’s what students, parents and ultimate employers desire to hear.

With local and national governments, it’s what voters and citizens want to hear. And, finally, with sporting entities, it’s what their fans expect to hear.Any of these “customer” groupings are likely to be asking: Does this organization seem to know what it’s talking about? Will its activities really meet our needs? Will it take care of us every step of the way?

Will we be treated with fairness and respect? Will its ticket prices provide enough opportunities for our team to win? Specialist speak seeks to provide answers to those questions.