Powerful Language of Leaders


If you’re even slightly curious about what poetry brings to business, here are a few of my recent favorites, along with some ideas for how to use them with a team or group.


By Libby:

• Diving In

• Trust

• Just on the Edge



By other favorite poets:

• Everything is Waiting for You by David Whyte

• Start Close In by David Whyte

• Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford

• To Be Of Use by Marge Piercy

• Today I Was Happy So I Made This Poem by James Wright

• The Journey by Mary Oliver


What to do:

  1. Begin or end a meeting or team event with a poem you like or that shares a theme or message that seems important to what you are doing or who you are as a group. If you can memorize it, great! If not, at least practice reading it several times. Poetry is always better if the people listening can have an aural experience of it. Have copies available to share.
  2. Begin a session with a poem and ask people to get into pairs or small groups to discuss the poem. Tell them there are no “right” answers and just to identify an image, idea, feeling or phrase that resonates with them. (Think about this yourself beforehand so you can join in the discussion, but try to avoid being the one with the ‘right’ answer.) Ask them the second question: “what do you think this poem offers us in terms of our work/situation/current condition/project, etc.?” If you’ve selected your poem carefully, they will connect something and share. Be willing to be open.
  3. Ask for feeeback later . . . don’t say “did you like talking about a poem?” but rather, “what did you learn by discussing a poem with your colleagues?” or “what can we learn about ourselves, or work, our world from discussing a poem every so often?” Use good questions, beautiful questions, to provide connection.


What does poetry bring to business?

  • Taking time for this creates mindfulness and practice being in the moment; reading and discussing poems requires your full attention.
  • Discussing with others allows you to interact in different ways, to learn about another’s humanity or insights, which can positively affect relationships.
  • Dealing with poems’ exactness with imagery, metaphor and symbol help you deal with ambiguity, a necessary skill in the workplace.


A resource you might enjoy:

• What Poetry Brings to Business by Clare Morgan.



There wasn’t enough time to answer all the great questions posed during my recent Netspeed Thought Leader webinar. Over the next few weeks I’ll be addressing them here, via my blog, stay tuned!

If you missed The Poetry of Persuasion: The Powerful Language of Leaders, you can watch a recording of the session and review the presentation slide deck here.





Libby Wagner
Author: Libby Wagner

Libby makes her home in a lovely West Seattle neighborhood in a house with turquoise walls and an amazing view of the Puget sound and Olympic mountains. A former Air Force “brat”, she continues to bounce from one corner of the world to the other, working with Fortune 500 clients, hopeful artists and authors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. She has a Master’s in Fine Arts and Poetry from Eastern Washington University where she also began working in the Writers in the Prison program.