Here are five terms that have worn out their welcome (if a welcome was ever extended):
1. Thought leader(ship). An executive who cobbles together old ideas—along with a dollop of the flavor of the month—into a blog post or mission statement does not qualify as a thought leader. Save this term for—no, on second thought, don’t save it at all. If you have an innovative exec, call her an innovator. A prominent figure in a given field? A leading industry voice. The alternatives might not be brilliant, but at least they won’t evoke eye-rolling and stifled chuckles. If you call yourself a thought leader, well, you deserve all the raucous derision you get.
2. Take X to the next level. This is as meaningless as it is prevalent in business writing. Unless you sell escalators, relegate this blather to the basement. If you are improving or accelerating a campaign or expanding a business, say so. Offer specifics.
3. Disruptive. Know what’s disruptive? Tossing a pumpkin into a punch bowl at a party, or skateboarding down a long conference table. Someone—somewhere, sometime—coined this fetid term, and it gathered steam. Time to pull the plug.