What Language Is Spoken In Your Business?

Richard Shrapnel's 'What Language Is Spoken In Your Business?'

You may not even be aware of it, but your business will have its own unique language. It may be a succinct language that strengthens connections and competitiveness or maybe a language which confuses and undermines performance. This language will exist, and the question becomes one of whether you search it out and craft it, or simply let it run its own course.


Active Knowledge Questions:

What language is spoken in your business, one which uplifts performance or undermines it? And can you actually tell the difference?


The Core Of Competitiveness

Any business, no matter what industry it is in, is no more than the sum of all the people who work within and with it. In today’s marketplace, that is likely a wide and diverse community of people from many different backgrounds, cultures, needs and working relationships.

It’s is their combined talents and effort that allow your business to be competitively fit and perform at its optimal level or to flounder in its chosen markets. Businesses that know how to compete develop a language that reflects this motive – the motive to compete. It is succinct language which supports, underpins and uplifts its competitive performance.

It may well become rich in metaphors, but it is language universally used and understood by everyone involved in your business. It is what connects all the people who work within and with your business and draws and empowers them to invest themselves in making your business an amazing success.

It is a language structured around what drives the competitiveness of a business, and any business’s performance rests with its competitive engine. This engine reflects those elements that underpin your competitive fitness.

What is a competitively fit business? It is a business that recognises that profit is an outcome and not a purpose or motive. The motive within a business must be to compete, to compete to deliver the greatest value they can against the needs of its customers. Do this well, outcompete all others and great profits will follow. But make profit your focus, your motive, and you will disperse and neutralise the competitive strength of your business.

A competitively fit business is one that is focused on building the strength of its competitive engine and therefore lifting the ceiling to its success.


Words Forming Language

The power of words, the power of the language used in your business should never be underestimated. The language in your business has the power of creation and destruction. It can readily block and dismantle any of your efforts, or it can remove barriers and ensure their success.

But we often ignore, or simply do not acknowledge, the words spoken every day and the universal language that we allow to exist. To do so is a great failing of leadership.

The language of your business begins to take shape from the moment it is conceived and continues to expand and evolve as the business is built during its formative years. If the business is successful and establishes itself, its language is also settled at this time.

Its language is ‘not locked in concrete’, and a material change in leadership or events can alter, remove or add to the language, but the foundations will have been formed.

What are some of the elements that will have been instrumental in creating your business’s language? The same elements that form your competitive engine. Here are some examples:

  • The purpose for which your business was formed.
  • The motive for its continued existence.
  • The vision that has been set for achievement.

Was your business formed to meet a specific customer need?

Does it continue to exist to meet that need or an evolved need?

Is the underlying motive ‘more profit’ or ‘greater customer value’?

Is there a vision that draws everyone together in a rightful cause, or is it based around profit and market value?

The reason why your business was formed, continues to exist and what it is seeking to achieve will have a profound effect on the language within your business, which in turn will impact its competitiveness.


Worthy Leaders

Another key agent of your competitive engine, and therefore business language, is the worthiness of your leadership. And worthiness lies in character not qualifications, job experience or connections.

Leadership will set purpose, motive and vision, and importantly, they will set the example of personal character. Here is an extract from my new book, Compete, that will be released to the public shortly:

If you were to work with a worthy leader, a leader who possessed the core traits of humility and gratitude, you would be working for someone who:

  • Invests themselves in uplifting you and bringing your talents to the forefront.
  • Places themselves last and seeks to serve the business and its customers first.
  • Recognises and rewards your talents.
  • Believes learning is important and creates a culture of continual learning.
  • Listens to you and your ideas.
  • Seeks to work with the best.
  • Doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
  • Takes failure in their stride and doesn’t seek to attribute blame to others.
  • Seeks to win your trust and support.
  • Has a positive attitude to life and comes to work with excitement for the day ahead.
  • Views everything through the lens of opportunity.
  • Gives thanks for their life.

If your business has worthy leaders at its helm and throughout its ranks, it would be a business that attracted the best of the best, who each gave everything they had every day to make the business an incredible success. It starts with you choosing your leaders upon their core character.’


The Language Of Compete

The language of compete can evolve in any business but the responsibility for seeding and encouraging it rests with leadership. If the language of compete is not present within a business, it is a good indicator that the focus has shifted away from building a competitively fit business.

The language arises from the workings of the competitive engine and reinforces the optimal workings of that engine.

Basically, you build a glossary and begin to use and apply this language of compete throughout the business every day until it takes and becomes your universal business language. Here are a few examples from my glossary:

  • Alignment: working in unison for one outcome.
  • Barriers: anything that stops or prevents a business or person from receiving, attaining, understanding, perceiving, acting, moving, etc.
  • Bureaucracy: a barrier that adds no value to the customer.
  • Centripetal leadership: the effect of everyone looking inwards to you as their leader, rather than upwards.
  • Culture:  the personality of a business.
  • Intimacy: the level of knowledge sought of customer needs.
  • Organisational design: the way in which the business’s resources, functions, and processes are brought together in the most effective way to deliver on the competitive posture and customer value.
  • Self-interest: placing oneself first in an unfair manner, which undermines competitiveness.
  • Simple guiding principles: basic laws that support the daily delivery of the competitive posture of the business.
  • Trust: the cornerstone of the relationship between the business, its leaders and employees.


Think about the language used in your business – the way people speak about the business, the people they work with, your customers, what is important, etc.  All of this language reflects attitude, beliefs, paradigms and character. It will underpin or undermine your business’s performance, but you can craft a language that uplifts performance and take your business to an entirely new level of performance.


An entirely new level of performance.

Want to become a part of the Entrepreneurs+ Community and learn how to make your business competitively fitJoin now.


All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel