You are killing my BUZZ………WORDS!

Leverage, empowerment, indexing, culture, good to great, diversity, exit strategy, face time, power lunch, holistic, on my radar, vulnerability, paradigm, sustainable, synergy, win-win, community, vitality, alignment, emotional intelligence, getting on the same page…

Over the years I have interviewed and selected leaders from an ever-changing and incredibly diverse talent pool. Their education, experience, history, and belief systems are all uniquely evidenced in this process. As we enter into the unknown during interviews, all of us initially evaluate what is debatably one of the most important competencies of leadership, communication.

Authenticity, robust, organic, cloud, ping, engage, offline, outside the box, conscionable, value add, push the envelope, diversify, interface…

Communication and language are incredibly powerful tools. They share joy, describe pain, speak to truth, build bridges, marry families, declare war, teach, encourage, celebrate, divide, and unify. I have been fascinated with wordsmithing and verbal expression for as long as I can remember.

Vision, hit the ground running, mission statement, purpose, innovation, pivot, aggregate, bandwidth, silo, guest focused, global, team, high-level, integrated…

My interest in phrasing and language is understandable when examining important facets of my early rearing. The first example is a result of my geographical upbringing. By that, I mean, I have the honor of having been born a Texan. For those of you not familiar with the unique characteristics of being Texan, you need to know that not only do we often speak with a distinctive Southern drawl, but we also butcher the English language in a way that is both sad and incredibly amusing. (I think ya’ll knew exactly what I was fixin’ to say)

In addition, and in contrast to that Texas influence, I also happened to have a father that spoke four languages fluently while holding a fifth in his back pocket just in case he was entertaining.

 Proactive, optimization, best practice, buy-in, turn the dial, moving parts, measurables, scalable, rock star, verticalMetrics, trending, stretch goal, ramp up,, drill down…

For most of my formative years I remember being confounded by my father’s means of expression. He used words that were understood by Webster but unequivocally had no business being used in casual conversation. When shooting the breeze with Dad, I was often required to complete a post mortem examination of the English language. It’s safe to say the man imposed utter linguistic confusion upon me.

It is what it is, reach-out, take it to the next level, peeling the onion, servant leadership, in the same vein, simplify the approach, flesh it out, and the classic, take the high road…

Remembering that feeling of confusion is what ultimately brings me to my point. Buzzwords and catch phrases can be used as powerful descriptors and are downright fun. Heck, I’m a well-established slinger of phrases.

However, as leaders, we are commissioned with the responsibility of disseminating and communicating a tremendous amount of important information, often at a very fast pace. Thus, our use of buzzwords should be critically observed to support the recipient’s ability to process our intended message.

Ask yourself a few questions next time you are speaking publicly or preparing for an upcoming presentation. Do you need buzz descriptors? Are you using them correctly? Are they enhancing your work or are you leaving your audience unclear?

Remember your audience. Is the buzz reference supporting those processing your information or is it solely about you? Does it make you feel or appear to be more knowledgeable of the material? Is it a reference to something you can fully articulate if asked to do so? If you cannot speak to the material fluidly, pause. Has clarity been achieved or are you simply catching a buzz?

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be deliberate and act with purpose.

On that note, this chronic over-user of buzzwords would like to thank you for your consideration.

Lead on!


  1. There is an old Arabic saying; “address people at the level of their minds”. I think you brought that to life in your article. Thanks.


    1. Thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate your contributions.


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