How Can Writing Make You a Better Leader?

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, MD, MPH, IHI Senior Technical Director, Africa Region

It’s about communication. I think that to be a good writer, you also have to be a good listener. You have to be able to listen to what has been said and what has not been said. So I think for me as a leader, it’s being able to listen to what people are saying, read their body language, and interpret it correctly. That is what has happened. Then also being able to communicate effectively what it is you are trying to do so people understand clearly what it is. And I think writing also has the ability, from my experience, of articulating a shared concept and a shared vision. So you may be in a meeting, you may be interacting with people, people are saying all kinds of different things. Can we come up with a message that sort of summarizes what it is that everyone is saying, so people know that, yes, this is something that we can identify. You are speaking our minds. I think that writing has a way of doing that. Of course, the final thing is that discipline in your thinking. We can have general conversations about things. It could be this, it could be that, but have you put structure to your thinking? And saying that, really, this is what we are thinking in a very step-wise and systematic manner. I think that writing helps, and all of these are things that a leader could use.