After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

We’re Leaders All, And Need to Think That Way

Posted on October 10, 2016
Filed Under Business, Communication | Leave a Comment

Technical writers are likely to picture themselves as contributing from “behind the scenes,” without much sense that they have a leadership role in the organization they’re serving. But principles of good leadership and professional awareness need to be on everyone’s mind these days, no matter how much of a leadership back-bencher we may fancy ourselves. We’re all filling big shoes.

Thus we find the Heroic Technical Writing blog musing on “Five Principles of Good Leadership,” an appropriate focus indeed. They are: A sense of mission, A sense of appreciation, An ability to inspire hard work, A willingness to respect employee expertise and A willingness to back up their team.

There’s also, of course, A sense of being trustworthy, of having integrity and keeping calm. We’d add that one.

Living up to all these attributes makes one, in fact, a leader too, no longer a backbencher. It may be quiet, unassertive leadership, but it’s way-showing nonetheless.

“Occasionally,” notes Bart Leahy, proprietor of Heroic Technical Writing, “I’ve encountered individuals who ask me to edit or rewrite their work and then, when I do, they push back– either against my specific wording or my advice on how to approach a particular communication challenge. This can be particularly vexing when the leader in question specifically confesses ignorance about a subject.

“Repeated often enough,” Leahy adds, “this behavior eventually creates reluctance to offer input or advice.”

That’s truly so. Technical writers may not be in the forefront of an organization, but the best ones are formative elements in an organization nonetheless. They know creative from crass, and demonstrate the crucial difference by being true to their craft and the best interests of the organization they’re serving. Trust will ultimately be lost, but it won’t be trust in the technical writer (if he sticks around long enough).

A good organization is a set of worthy aspirations maintained under pressure. Technical writers serving such an organization can sense its heading perhaps before the executive helmsman. Tech writers aren’t just drafting procedures, they’re taking the best aim they know on an organization’s proficiency and continued success.

“All of these behaviors engender a sense of trust,” Leahy notes in closing. “If a leader loses their team’s trust, they can also expect to lose all the rest of the attributes described above. But given an environment of vision, sincere appreciation, shared work, mutual respect, and trust, leaders can create high-performing teams who will want to work with that leader again and again.”

And their technical writers can tell them as well as anyone how they’re doing. – Doug Bedell


Leave a Comment

If you would like to make a comment, please fill out the form below.

Name (required)

Email (required)



Email Subscribe