“I” vs. “We” in Leadership

Disclaimer: my intention is not for this post to be political, so I hope it does not come across as such.

A friend of mine posted a video on his Facebook this week, and it popped up on my feed. My friend is unhappy with his current boss/job and undoubtedly posted this video to show what makes him unhappy.

The part that strikes me the deepest is the difference between the bosses in terms of “saying ‘I'” and “saying ‘we.'” After the New Hampshire primary, CNN noticed a difference in the speeches between the two Democratic candidates. As stated in the following article, Hillary Clinton used the “I” or “me” pronouns twice as much as she used “we” or “us.” For Bernie Sanders, that ratio was flipped.


One reason Bernie Sanders has become so popular, especially among young and new voters, is the inclusivity that permeates through his rhetoric. In general, especially earlier in the primary season, he makes his speeches more about his “political revolution” and his platform rather than himself.

As evident in the preceding article, the media has taken note of the differences between the two candidates in this regard. Since then, Clinton has added “Fighting for Us” as a slogan in addition to her slogan “Hillary for America.”

Just because Clinton used more personal pronouns than Sanders in a speech doesn’t make her an ineffective leader, but it’s still an interesting point to consider when developing your leadership identity. Leaders are inextricably connected to their followers, and the followers are just as important as the leader in reaching successful outcomes. When leaders develop an ego, they can alienate their followers and subsequently become less effective. Many young voters that I know do not gravitate towards Clinton because they feel as though she is looking down upon them with her word choice. My friend probably doesn’t like his boss because he feels demoralized by his boss’s attitude towards his employees. How we interact with others is crucial to success, and when you are a leader, it is something that should always be at the forefront of your mind.

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