How one word changed a world

Jonny was a sales manager. His team performed okay but he knew they could do better.

So he pushed them. He told them things like:

  • You need to close more.
  • I got six leads today.
  • You should visit customer X.
  • I always visit customers as much as I can.

Jonny had his appraisal, including 360 degree feedback. His boss told him his team felt:

  • demotivated
  • disliked
  • distrusted

Performance had to improve.

Jonny was shocked. He didn’t know what to do and decided to see a coach. The coach listened to him talk about his team and then said:

‘Every time you talk about your team, you say ‘they always… but I think they should…’ Are you a team? Do they know they’re a team?’

Jonny knew what to do. The next day, he went into the office and said:

  • We need to close more, how can we do it?
  • We need to visit our customers more regularly, how can we do that?
  • We can better results if we work together.

And things changed. The team seemed happier. They performed better. Results improved.

Because they were a team and everyone knew it.

Learning Points 

‘We’ combines. ‘I’ isolates. ‘You’ divides.

‘We’ creates accountability. ‘I’ creates ego. ‘You’ creates blame.

  • Managers who use ‘I’ sit above the team.
  • Managers who use ‘you’ don’t trust the team.
  • Managers who use ‘we’ grow with the team.


ARP – Analyse – Revise – Perform


Listen to yourself

Do you use I, you or we?

If there’s lots of ‘I’ and ‘you’ how does this affect the team?

Is morale where you’d like it to be?


Think about how you could let ‘we’ into your words.

‘I need you to improve’ becomes ‘We need to improve’

‘You have to…’ becomes ‘We need to…’


When talking to the team next, show them that you believe we are in it together.

Use your words to combine and share, not divide and blame.





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