This article proposes an exploration of language as a cultural voice in the research of leadership, and the conception that the dyadic relationship between leader and follower can be further looked into semiotically within the discourses of language. In particular, this research hopes to bring into view the plausible relationship between Chinese politeness and leader–follower interactions as well as its impact on followers’ career development. The appropriate (non)usage of second-person pronoun nín (您) by followers while interacting with superiors is the exemplar vernacular examined in this article. We engaged 32 eMBA students on the usage of this second-person polite pronoun in of cial organisation settings. Many agreed that Chinese politeness is both expected and required by interlocutors involved, and it is a form of ‘face-giving’ and an acknowledgement of hierarchical differences. In most Chinese organisations, status and hierarchical positions are speci ed clearly and must be properly acknowledged as linguistic politeness is both expected and required. The authors hope to raise the possibility that the linguistic and cultural in uences, particularly politeness, involved in face-to-face verbal interactions within formal Chinese corporate environment may signal a possible discursive variation in leader–follower communication studies.