Over the past 1.5 days, I taught a business writing course for internal auditors. Throughout the program the vice president of internal auditing participated wholeheartedly in every learning activity. He shared his knowledge, admitted his knowledge gaps, and communicated his hopes and expectations for his team's audit reports and other written pieces.
That is leading by example.
Often corporate leaders want their staff to write more effectively, but they don't invest the time. They don't participate in the writing course, so they don't have the opportunity to tune up their own writing skills. As a result, they may have old-fashioned views and incorrect assumptions about today's business writing.
When the boss doesn't attend the writing class, people who do attend often bemoan their leader's absence. They want to learn more about their boss's expectations. They wish he or she were there learning the same lessons about concise, high-value reports and presentations. They would like their boss to understand their writing challenges, and they would appreciate their leader's opinion on how to handle sticky situations. Although they don't voice it, I wonder whether their leader's absence makes them question the priority he or she places on business writing.
To leaders who want their teams to write better, I say this: Lead by example. Write well. Share your knowledge. And if you schedule a training program in business writing, attend enthusiastically, side by side with your staff. They will learn more, simply from your presence.
In your opinion, how can leaders inspire better writing? I would love to hear from you.