There’s one word that distinguishes good leadership from excellent leadership, especially as many teams begin the journey to re-uniting in person…

Here — see if you can detect the one word that’s different in these two statements, recently made by two different leaders–

First leader: “You need to be better prepared for meetings.”

Second leader: “We need to find a way to get you more exposure.”

Can you detect the difference?

Here, try this one–

First leader: “You need to wear your mask in the office, work from the office a minimum of halftime, and keep six-foot separation from your colleagues.”

Second leader: “We need to find a good solution to coming back into the office that ensures everyone’s safety. We’re going to need to test out different models, and see what works best. We’re probably not going to get it right the first time, but we’ll probably get some good laughs in the process.”

Can you hear the difference? Can you feel it?

Yep, that’s it…

“You” Vs. “We”

You need to get through this,” lands very differently then, “We’re going to get through this together.”

“You need to get better at…” lands very differently then, “We’re going to find a way to get you the training and experience you need.”

One reminds each of us that we are not alone– it strengthens our courage, and our ability to produce great results. The other one can easily leave everyone (including the leader) isolated and trying to figure it out alone, with no support or encouragement… weakening our performance.

Test it out for yourself

Before giving feedback, engaging in a tough conversation around how to move forward post-pandemic, or reiterating the company goals or metrics, think with “we” in mind.

Given our impact on each other, “we” really is the most accurate word to use… it’s certainly the one that creates the most cohesion, creativity, and collaboration.

Try putting the word “We” next to your computer, on your nightstand, or on your coffee pot. When you find yourself saying “you,” simply repeat the same sentence, this time with a “we.” Make it a conscious practice every day for the next 30 days.

Let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing your stories.

If you found this video to be helpful, please share it. If you’ve had a experience with the word “We” vs “You,” please leave me a comment.

If you’re looking for a speaker (virtual or in person), a coach, or a facilitator, email me directly at

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been facilitating communication that results in trust and connection for nearly 20 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit