Satya Nadella (pictured), CEO of Microsoft Corporation, writes badly. For example, his July 10, 2014, public memo to all employees, which journalists have described as “disquieting,” “plodding” and “coma-inducing,” is filled with cliches:
First and foremost
Off the table
UniqueAnd more. In a single memo, Mr. Nadella seems to have used most of the cliches on the big-business checklist of cliches.
CEOs are paid to provide clear direction. When a CEO writes in cliches, he reveals timidity, evasiveness, or vague thinking. Employees, partners, customers and investors tend to be discouraged by this kind of writing. (For example, look at the faces in the picture above.)
The Takeaway: A few CEOs (for example, John Mackey and T. J. Rodgers) are good writers, but most are not. What you read in the press from most CEOs is bad writing. Bland, boring, effete, evasive writing. Try to avoid becoming infected: (1) If you are not required to read such writing, do not read it; (2) if you are required to read it, pause at every paragraph break and say (silently or aloud) “This is dreck.” Your subconscious will get the message; as a result, you will be less likely to imitate the dreck.