Lead is a Verb, Not an Email

Lead is a Verb, Not an Email By Angela Fieler

I’ve seen an alarming leadership trend lately. I suppose it started when the pandemic required that leaders distance themselves from their teams as a matter of safety. Leadership became more of a virtual activity than a face-to-face one.

What is it to Lead?

Let me be clear – if leadership is the act of leading or motivating others; if, as Tony Robbins says, leaders serve “to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, building their skills and achieving goals along the way”, then leaders can exercise their responsibilities virtually. What I don’t believe leaders can do is lead solely via email.

How is Email Leveraged?

Email is a tool that leaders use regularly. It serves as an efficient way to pass on information quickly to the masses. It allows people on different schedules, at different geographic locations, and in different time zones to receive information simultaneously and respond when it works for them. When used to request follow-up, email can be used as an audit trail.     

What emails cannot do is help to build relationships and trust – two basic elements of effective leadership. In my experience, if emails are not well-written and followed up with an actual two-way conversation, they can produce the exact opposite. There are certainly techniques that will help you avoid email misinterpretation. The Balanced WorkLife Company published this infographic to help: Don’t Take it Personally. How Emails Get Misinterpreted in the Workplace [Infographic] | Balanced Work Life.

These tools will certainly help you communicate more effectively using email, but they still don’t replace basic leadership skills like getting to know your people, understanding what it’s like to work at your organization, managing expectations, fostering a sense of purpose, and recognizing your employees. 

If you want to master core leadership skills, consider enrolling in our upcoming Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave course.

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