Leaders regularly proclaim they want to make a difference in the lives of others. Is this true for you? If so, then I have a question for you:

Is your tendency to speak more for others (we, they, you, many people, I’ve heard others say…) or do you lean more in the direction of speaking for self? (I, me, my)?

Your leadership communication will demonstrate greater clarity when you are speaking only for self.

In Emergent Leader sessions we have discovered that “speaking for self” is not a very common or natural occurrence among participants.

Roadblocks to Speaking for Self

During our sessions I’ve observed these roadblocks to speaking on behalf of self:

Leaders, parents, etc. who often see it as their ‘job’ to speak for others often evidence little awareness about their potential for inaccuracy when they speak for others. A couple of examples:

  1. A family leader announces: “My children and grandchildren are Lutherans. We follow Lutheran teaching, Lutheran worship forms and Lutheran prayers.”
    1. The oldest child responds to me in a far corner of the room: “That just reflects my parents wishful thinking. I was raised as a Lutheran, attended Lutheran schools but don’t make my way to church with any consistency at this point with their grandchildren.”
  2. A school principal\DCE\pastor praises her\his staff: “I’m so thankful that you have really bought into a team-work culture.”
    1. A member of the staff is later heard commenting on the idea of team-work: “What he\she calls buy-in I call rolling over. I go along with all that “teaming stuff” because it is expected not because I am a fan. I need to see the people at the top really buy in to team work for culture to improve here.”

Speaking for others leads to amazing inaccuracy for leaders. Over generalizing, poor listening, and attributing their personal views to others become regular features of communication.

A second roadblock is embracing “leadership” training that holds up not speaking for self. Think about these:

                   “Let’s never forgot it is about ‘us’ and not about ‘me’.”

                   “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

                  “Children are to be seen….”

When we try to lead under the weight of the training implied in the sentiments like above leaders begin to hesitate for being labeled selfish.

                   Speaking for others is selfish and controlling. Reflect on the following:

                   Speaking for others: “We need to identify a path forward for our ministry.”

                   Speaking for self: “I would like to schedule a time with you to talk about a path forward in ministry.”


A third impediment is the absence of any training, feedback or coaching that would lead a person to speak for self.

Emergent Leader Experience

The Emergent Leader experience provides a safe learning environment, skill development and leaders that all contribute to raising the ability to ‘speak for self.’

Speaking for others is a leadership weakness. Learning to speak skillfully for self is an elegant leadership skill that contains the power to transform your self-confidence and coaching interactions, build more powerful conversations with your children and deepen intimacy with your spouse.



Daryl Pichan is an Emergent Leader Trainer who has mentored and coached business owners, presidents, partners and senior leaders for more than 20 years. Clients are able to re-calibrate and re-energize their functioning by gaining advanced level mastery in leadership skills through improving management of self and deepening their understanding of the emotional processes that guide every human interaction. He has advanced degrees through the University of Rochester, University Associates and Georgetown Family Ctr.

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