School News
Back to Listing

Here Are the Six Things You Need to Say to Convince People to Follow Your Lead


One of the most important factors in a leader being able to effectively manage and inspire a team to perform at their best is the vision the leader has for what that team or company is setting out to do.

So says Ross’ Scott DeRue in a series of new online courses now available on

In “Leading People and Teams,” DeRue joins fellow Ross Professor Maxim Sytch in offering four separate courses specializing in the influence and management of others. And it starts, they say, with the vision.

But that vision doesn’t mean much unless the language a leader uses to communicate that vision to the team is appropriate, DeRue says in the course.

“Over the past decade or so, we’ve been doing a lot of research around the language leaders use to communicate visions to their employees in ways that will compel those individuals to want to be part of this team,” DeRue says.

So here are six things he suggests leaders do when motivating their teams:

  1. Refer to your fundamental values

Letting your team know the values that will underpin your actions as a company and as individuals will set the stage for success.

  1. Use stories and anecdotes to exemplify those values

Stories and metaphors are more effective as communication vehicles than explicitly calling out a list of values.

“It’s one thing to say ‘We value integrity,’” DeRue says. “It’s another thing to tell a story about an employee who did the right thing when nobody was watching.”

  1. Use rhetorical questions and three-part lists

Presidential candidates do this all the time, DeRue says, because it is a very effective technique for enabling people to remember the message you’re trying to communicate.

  1. Express Moral Conviction

Referring to the beneficiaries of your work is hugely impactful to generating support and motivating your team. It’s important for them to clearly see why the work matters.

  1. Use Inclusive Language

Be careful not to use singular, subjective words like “I” and phrases like “I want…”

“The more you can use collective language like ‘we’ and ‘our’ the more your team will feel a part of the vision you’re trying to create,” DeRue says.

  1. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Short and simple statements or phrases you can repeat when communicating with your team will be what they remember - so be sure to repeat, repeat, repeat.

These six items are just one small part of a four-course specialization from DeRue and Sytch. The courses, collectively titled “Leading People and Teams”, are now available to the entire world through online education website Coursera. You can enroll at any time at

Access to online courses like “Leading People in Teams” is part of a new suite of offerings available to University of Michigan Alumni through the Alumni Advantage program - which is redefining alumni status to a lifetime partnership for success. Other offerings include livestreams of on-campus lecture events, free or reduced-price access to in-person executive education opportunities, and much more.

Learn more about Alumni Advantage