In this post, Writers Write will show you how to write like a leader.
Words have power. The right words lead and inform. The wrong words don’t.
Leaders, from Churchill and Mandela to Zuckerberg and Bezos, have used their words.
As a writer, you will need the best words possible.
Without them, your pitches (and messages) get lost.
Here’s how to write like a leader.
What Is Leadership?
Leaders dictate, but that’s not all.
A good leader can communicate to anyone in their business.
Good leaders take charge, but also listen. Effective leaders help to solve problems.
A good leader is clear and concise. A good leader’s writing is the same.
How To Write Like A Leader
1. Use Power Words
Words trigger thoughts and emotions.
A leader uses words with powerful associations.
Words like ‘dynamic’ and ‘driven’ are powerful ones. Words like ‘nice’ or ‘playful’ have other connotations.
Think about the words you use.
There are always more powerful synonyms (for the same message).
It’s what you say, and how you say it.
2. Plain Language Leads
People can’t follow a leader they cannot understand.
Leaders use language to be understood. Always use plain language (and be clearer).
Jargon is distance. For example, ‘GUI’ means nothing to some people. But ‘graphic user interface’ is better. ‘On the screen’ is even better for everyone to understand.
Boil jargon down to simple terms. Edit until everyone understands.
3. Use Positive Words
Words can calm your team, or lead to panic. Words can be chaos, or chill everyone out.
A leader uses positive words (even for negative things).
For example, don’t say the team has ‘a massive problem’. Instead the team has a ‘new obstacle’.
For example, don’t say that sales are ‘tanking. Say they are ‘declining’.
Learn how to put a positive meaning to what you say.
Positivity aids understanding and co-operation. Negativity draws negative reactions.
4. The Readable Leader
Authoritative writing is readable. It’s not just about plain language. Readability scores matter too.
Word processors display your readability score (within Settings).
Above 75% means everyone understands. Less than 50% means best of luck.
Short sentences (and shorter words) score higher.
Complex words get a lower score.
Aim for higher scores (75% and higher) to be understood.
5. Giving Instructions
Good leaders can give instructions. Excellent leaders don’t make it seem that way.
- A leader can’t just say, ‘Do this.’
- A leader must say, ‘Can we do this next?’
If you only give orders, you can’t expect respect. People lose interest, and won’t follow a word.
Leaders are part of the team, and their language shows it.
Dictators give orders. Leaders give reasons.
In meetings and emails, which tone comes across?
Write 2 drafts for important memos or emails. Your voice has at least a 50% chance to improve.
Always ask: are you a leader, or trying to be a dictator?
Edit if it seems like the second.
7. Again, But With Feeling
Editors are leaders in writing. Speech writers know their way around words and emotions.
If you write, you should too.
Imagine this message (from your editor): ‘This was terrible. Write it again, you cur!’
How does it feel?
Imagine they rephrased it to: ‘We can’t run this draft. Please rewrite it.’
How does that feel?
- The first is badly phrased. It is harsh. You might not co-operate.
- The second is phrased better. It asks, not barks or shouts (or insults).
Co-operation takes kindness too.
Consider the impact of your words before you use them.
8. Leading The Discussion
Discussions are always a fair exchange.
A leader can gain the upper hand, but good leaders never force their way.
Good discussions are guided, not dominated.
Here’s how to lead discussions:
- Always listen in return.
- Use questions and counter-points.
- Never interrupt.
- Don’t get angry.
- Use effective keywords.
When you talk to someone, think of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Effective, clear keywords get the right results here too.
If the word ‘monetization’ appears, what do you picture?
Cash. Cash flow. Money.
Discussions are the same. Leaders use keywords to trigger an emotion (or mental picture).
It’s why a speech can inspire thousands.
It’s why the right email builds a company.
It’s why the best posts get hits.
9. Leadership Online
Every writer wants to be noticed.
From Facebook posts to Instagram stories, you should take the lead.
Here’s how leaders communicate online:
- Complete your profile. Include details, and your picture. A leader should be seen.
- Post often, but don’t spam. Leaders are present, and have an online presence.
- Be clear, whether in email or a Twitter status. Be understood everywhere.
- Post sensibly. Being ‘quirky’ can turn a leader into a jester.
- Maintain engagement. Respond to comments, and answer emails. Leaders get involved.
- Be professional. Leaders can maintain their style, even when frustrated or angry.
The Last Word
In this post, Writers Write covered leadership and writing. We hope that if you write like a leader, it will help you write better.
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
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