May 2010 column
was titled: “Leaders Must Be Communicators.” In the February, March,
April and May columns of 2011, I was more specific. I stressed leaders
must be listeners, be able to use non verbal communication, be good
speakers, and be readers. But leaders should also be good writers. Here
are some things to consider:
There is no excuse for not writing well.
When people say, “I’ve never written well and I never will,” what they
generally mean is, “I’m not willing to put forth the effort it would
take to learn to write well.” Writing well should be a priority for
Anyone can learn to write well. Fifty
years I did not write well, so I sought help from others; I listened to
them and put their suggestions into practice. Within a few months my
writing improved dramatically. Since then, my writing has continued to
improve. While my writing is far from perfect, I write better today than
ever before. And I am asked often to lead seminars on “How to Write
Clear writing reflects clear thinking.
Extensive studies using the Nelson-Denny
Reading Test and the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal
demonstrate a strong positive correlation between scores from the two
tests; that is, good writers are good thinkers. Furthermore, when
subjects learn to write better, they become better thinkers. Since
leaders must be thinkers, they should be clear writers.
Writing is a key leadership tool. While all great
leaders are not great writers, writing helps leaders develop and clarify
ideas and provides a written record that both helps followers understand
the leaders’ directions and gives a written record for future reference.
A clear written record reduces the possibility of misunderstanding.
Ability to write well enhances confidence.
Knowing one has expressed himself or herself well is a confidence
builder. My October 2008 Column expressed the importance of leaders
being confident. Confident communicators are almost always confident
As I have written before, “If you can’t
communicate, don’t try to lead.” Writing well is an important means of
communication. Leaders should be writers.