Why Leaders Should Resist Phony Management Buzzwords

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect


Story: Organizations are notorious for throwing new management buzzwords and concepts around like a manure spreader gone out of control. Someone at the top of the house emphasizes a new phrase or concept and BINGO, within weeks it’s in almost every company presentation. If you don’t liberally sprinkle around the newest phrase, you find yourself on the outs with the “cool kids.”

Key Point: I do love jumping on emerging leadership insights when they’re supported by solid research. (In fact, I have to be careful not to be one of those buzz folks myself). Carol Dweck’s work on a FIXED MINDSET versus GROWTH MINDSET is an example. The upside is provoking people to think, learn, unlearn and act more effectively. But the downside can be oversimplification and the tyranny of people faking a phony level of understanding. It is seductive to chase shiny new things and search for a magic management elixir. However, we have to be mindful of the harm of political tyranny outweighing the good of thoughtful application. To illustrate, let’s look a little more at GROWTH MINDSET.

As noted by one of Dweck’s colleagues Eduardo Briceño, “growth mindset is the understanding that personal qualities and abilities can change. It leads people to take on challenges, persevere in the face of setbacks, and become more effective learners.” However, Dweck defines the risk of having a FALSE GROWTH MINDSET. “Saying you have growth mindset when you don’t really have it or you don’t really understand [what it is]. It’s also false in the sense that nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time. Everyone is a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. You could have a predominant growth mindset in an area but there can still be things that trigger you into a fixed mindset trait.”

Actions we can take:

  1. When embracing new concepts, allow yourself and others to soak in the understanding and meaning. This requires an investment of time, conversation, exploration and thoughtful introduction into the relevant community. Be wary of overnight trends that could distract and soon vanish, leaving a garbage trail.
  2. Resist the tyranny of jumping on superficial management buzz and bandwagons. Plain, clear language is best. When we introduce new words, thoughts or approaches, appreciate that regurgitation is not necessarily true understanding.

Less fake buzz in leadership,


One Millennial View: New phrases and lingo can be fun. Millennials can seemingly upgrade social status by being ahead of the curve on this. But it’s like a car, as soon as you drive it off the lot [share it, say it], it starts rapidly depreciating in value, and time starts ticking to find a new model to replace it. The same goes for phony buzz at work. To some, it’s cheap and disingenuous right out of the gate. Let the concept sell itself because it has genuine longevity and value, not because it has a temporary ring to it.

– Garrett

Blog 963

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis