I beleive that the answer is YES. As leaders, everytime we communicate we are engaged in the process of leading. Yesterday I was sending out a "routine" email that was communicating a decision that had been made. I was blessed to have next to me one of my colleagues who helped me craft just the right words. We believed that what was written in this short message could have impact over the long haul, and we wanted to say just the right thing. So here are a few tips for crafting a good email message that can enhance your ability to lead over the long haul:
- First and foremost, NEVER (repeat NEVER) write or send an email when you have negative emotion wrapped around the subject. This is especially true if you are angry toward someone or something.
- Second and foremost, NEVER (repeat NEVR) write or send an email when you have negative emotion wrapped around the subject. This is especially true if you are angry toward someone or something...get the point?
- Assume that people will always read between the lines, so avoid any language or tone that might allow peopel to do that. Be factual and to the point.
- Explain yourself. Let the reader know why the decision has been made or what is prompting you to write this email. Don't let them guess.
- Be succinct...but not too much so. Write in full sentences, and consider that it probably takes a paragraph or two to speak of anything worthwhile.
- Have an approriate salutation - to whom are you adressing this note, and how do they want to be noted by you? Do you begin with Dear Friends...Trusted Colleagues...Fellow Faculty...or do you address people by name?
- Have an approriate ending - do you have a tag line you normally use (regards, truly, as always, God's blessings) or perhaps several that not only address the issue at hand but also speak of your relationship with that person or group?
- Choose your words in such a way that they have impact. Consider this a speech that is written out. Let your language inspire others to action.
- Depending on who the email is being sent to, re-read over and over. Nothing is worse than a spelling mistake, or a dropped word, or poor grammar (this is no big deal between friends, but any public email needs to be your best writing). Don't distract the reader with poor grammar and spelling.
- Be VERY judicious with using REPLY ALL...this gets people in trouble way too many times.
- Let the email address be the last thing you type in, just in case you get sloppy and hit the send button before you want to or before you have a chance to proofread. You may just want to write the note in Word and then copy and paste into the email.
- Finally, NEVER (repeat NEVER) write or send an email when you have negative emotions wrapped around the subject. This is especially true if you are angry toward someone or something.
That's it for now...enjoy using email. It is one of the great tools we have at our disposal in which we can lead in real time and across boundaries. AND remember to visit with people face to face, especially when you have negative emotions wrapped around the subject or if you are angry toward someone or something.