“Churchill mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
Exclaimed John F. Kennedy when conferring honorary U.S citizenship on Churchill.
Granted you and I aren’t Churchill. And maybe our oratory skills wouldn’t find a ready audience like Churchill’s did.
However, we have something even better. A way to connect with millions across the earth via the written word.
I think Churchill would have totally killed it in today’s omnichannel world. In fact business leaders like Richard Branson are doing just that!
“Every CEO should make an effort to be online. It’s a great way to reach your customers and to hear what people think about your brand. It gives you a direct connection to them. If you get online and really take advantage of this, you will see great benefits for your business—having fun along the way being one of them!” – Richard Branson
Leaders like Branson obviously know that through writing we create vision. With this basic skill we share our ideas, experiences, and emotions.
We open ourselves to feedback and growth. For ourselves, our careers, and our businesses.
So why is it that many, including leaders of organizations, are hesitant to write and publish online regularly?
Due to this they are unable to take advantage of important benefits like:
- Sharing your vision across a wide audience. Your ideas and purpose are embedded not only within your organization but conveyed to your peers and customers as well.
- Improving and innovating. Tap into feedback you receive from a wide cross section of the audience.
- Leading industry conversations. When you share your ideas on the industry, you stake a claim in the ongoing conversations about future direction and purpose. You take the initial steps on being an industry thought leader.
- Mentorship at scale. Your valuable experiences and ideas can influence and help those who are looking for guidance.
I’ve heard the usual excuses like ‘no-time’, ‘no-ideas’, ‘no-skills’. However, the biggest factor is usually ‘no-commitment’.
Here’s how anybody can write to lead.
1) Tune in to your inner Branson.
“screw it, just do it!”
You don’t have to be a great writer. You do need experiences or ideas. Everyone has those.
Leave your fear behind and start writing.
Know that –
“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad,’ is fearful behavior.” – Stephen King
Which leads us to the next step.
2) Keep it simple. Do not get in between your reader and your ideas.
I admit that I still struggle with this.
Somewhere in high school or thereabouts we were given to understand that big words and longer sentences were better.
What we actually want is to get people to read and understand our stuff. Not to come off as distant with big words that would make people reach for a dictionary.
You aren’t writing a thesis. Plainspeak is best speak.
Even written agreements don’t need to be complicated as pointed out by Seth Godin.
I find that these style tips, some from ‘Lead with a story’- by Paul Smith, help me to keep things simple.
- Keep sentences short. Each sentence at a 15-18 word maximum.
- Move verbs to the start of the sentence. A verb within the first 3 words is best.
- Keep the voice ‘Active’. Opt for ‘John won the contract.’ instead of ‘The contract was won by John’. See that? Shorter and easier.
- Keep paragraphs short. Makes it easily scannable and readable.
3) Borrow another pair of eyes.
I definitely need a proofreader. In fact every writer I have worked with has needed one.
Run a spell check.
Have a friend, colleague, employee or family member whom you respect, read what you write.
Use their feedback to fine-tune the article.
Run a spell check.
4) Publish and promote.
The gaps in your ideas are a good thing. Your audience will step in to contribute if they feel strongly about things you left unsaid.
Your post will never be ‘perfect’. It’s time to publish that baby.
Art is never finished, only abandoned. – Leonard da Vinci
Don’t be shy to promote the post on your social networks. LinkedIn even notifies your network when you publish articles.
Post it to relevant LinkedIn groups. Hopefully you have commented on other articles from your peers and they will be eager to comment on yours.
Do it again!
Leadership skills are inherent in every individual. Those who find ways to express these skills are our leaders.
So keep writing.
Do you publish online regularly? What’s holding you back?
Share your top tip for the reluctant writer with us.