The Central Alaskan Yupik Eskimos have at least fifteen different words for snow. They have a name for snowflakes; frost; fine snow; drifting particles; clinging particles; fallen snow on the ground; soft, deep fallen snow on the ground; crust on fallen snow; fresh fallen snow on the ground; fallen snow floating on water; snow banks; snow blocks; snow cornices; blizzards and severe blizzards.
Makes sense, right? If you have a lot of something, you get to know it really well. You see distinctions in it that other people don’t see, and pretty soon, you need new names for those distinctions. In fact, the number of words in your vocabulary for that thing might be a pretty good indication for how familiar you are with it. How many names do you think carpenters have for wood? …or geologists for rocks? …or body builders for muscles?
What about your “leadership” vocabulary? How many of the following “leadership” words do you regularly use?
Advising, Assisting, Assuring, Challenging, Coaching, Commanding, Compelling, Conducting, Confronting, Counseling, Demonstrating, Developing, Directing, Educating, Empowering, Encouraging, Guiding, Influencing, Inspecting, Inspiring, Instructing, Investing, Managing, Mentoring, Monitoring, Motivating, Observing, Persuading, Praising, Preparing, Prompting, Provoking, Redirecting, Requiring, Serving, Showing, Spurring, Supervising, Supporting, Teaching, Testing, Training, Tutoring, Urging…
It’s a long list, and it gets even longer if you pull out the Thesaurus. The better a leader you are, the more familiar you become with its nuances. If you only know one word for leadership, you may not have very much of it, after all.