How to write like a leader

March 31, 2020

 

 

Speaking in Toronto last fall, best-selling author and New Yorker essayist Jia Tolentino, offered this insight into her craft: "I try to write to not waste people's time."

 

It got me thinking about applying this spirit of economy to blogging and thought leadership: about restraint as a counterpoint to unbridled self-expression. What would this look like? And how could it further the conversation? Here are a few ideas for channelling the power of restraint to raise your communications game, on Linkedin and beyond.

 

Write with clarity versus certainty. Certainty is a feeling of absolute knowing, an emotional state that precludes being curious about other points of view. Clarity is a state of mind that emphasizes the path versus the outcome. Instead of saying here is what we should do, emulate the communication style espoused by effective leaders in uncertain times: here is what we know, here is what we don't know, and here is what we are going to do.

 

Think twice before merchandising your emotions. Unless you are Greta Thunberg, approach disagreement as, what Tolentino calls, 'an ambient condition' versus a mountain to die on. Write to further the conversation versus fuel the outrage cycle.

 

Never say more than you have to. If 10 minutes spent sharpening and tightening your post saves your audience 10 seconds of reading, it's worth doing. To paraphrase French mathematician Blaise Pascal: I would have written you a shorter article, but I didn't have the time.

 

 

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