On Language, Part 1

Last night, in my Leadership, Governance, and Accountability class, the prof said (in reference to papers he had just graded), “…and finally, this is just a pet peeve of mine, but impact is a noun. If something has an impact, then you say that it affects something. However, I’ve already lost the business battle on incentivize, although we already have a verb for that as well, which is motivate, so I’m probably going to lose this one as well.”

I was amused, as I had used the word impact as a verb in my paper–I guess I’ve learned a lot of business-speak in business school. (Go figure!) As I was telling my husband the story, he started telling me about how, as a geek, he completely tunes out anything that might come after one of those “business speak” words.

He’s absolutely right–one of the worst things to do with your geeks is to try to speak to them about aligning synergies or some such business school nonsense. You’ll be speaking completely different languages, and an essential part of leadership is communication. In order to communicate properly with geeks, I find that if I first listen and then respond in kind (professionally, of course–“your mother” jokes probably aren’t appropriate for leaders), I not only do not use MBA-speak, but I get better responses from the geeks.