Is Writing Essential for Leading?
The Bimat Mandel [Mandel Platform] event “Written, Sealed, Closed” explored aspects of writing involved in the work of doctors, psychologists and lawyers. It looked at how the opportunities and dangers of writing are expressed in these professionals’ contention with the endless complexity that is part of their everyday work.
“The aim of this event is to break through the boundaries of dialogue, and the boundaries of learning,” said Dr. Eli Gottlieb, director of the Mandel Leadership Institute (MLI) and vice president of the Mandel Foundation-Israel, in his opening words. “Writing allows us to observe ourselves in a way that is not possible by any other method.”
“The modern age, of indirect interpersonal communication, mediated by text messages and symbols, together with the accompanying trend of saying everything in fewer words, present an even greater challenge for anyone who writes. It is especially felt by those who need language to function, including those engaged in professions of human improvement – education, medicine, psychology, law and others,” said Dr. Daniel Marom, head of Pedagogical and Tutorial Development at MLI, and the event’s organizer. “Can we who seek to lead in these professions allow ourselves to give up on writing so easily? In order to lead, we need to write, first of all for ourselves, but also for those at whom our work is directed, for our fellow professionals, and for the general public, which holds sway over the allocation of resources for our work and over its boundaries.”
The event, held at the beginning of May, was organized around interviews conducted by fellows of the Mandel School of Educational Leadership (MSEL) with professionals for whom writing is part of their work. Dr. Sagit Arbel-Alon, a specialist in oncological gynaecology at the Hadassah Medical Center Ein Karem, and a poet, talked to Sharon Malki, a fellow of MSEL cohort 23. “First and foremost, medicine, like poetry, is a type of listening,” said Dr. Arbel-Alon. “First of all you need to listen… Writing is the same. It’s first of all listening, and reading, long before you even write a word.”
Next, Gish Amit, a fellow of MSEL cohort 22, interviewed Dr. Eran Rolnick, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who described the importance of writing for Freud: “He wrote in order to think, he wrote in order to feel, he wrote in order to know what he was trying to say.” Similarly, as a translator of Freud’s works into Hebrew, Rolnick claimed that reading Freud - essential for any psychoanalyst - demands something close to translation, in which the reader rewrites what Freud wrote into his or her own language and terms of reference.
The third interview saw Prof. Ariel Hirschfeld, a faculty member at MLI, talk with Supreme Court justice Zvi Zilbertal. Justice Zilbertal reviewed the characteristics of legal writing and listed the “addressees” of legal verdicts. According to Zilbertal, the most important addressee is… the judge himself. “Until I write things down, I’m unable to form my opinion. It is the writing process that allows me to formulate the correct reasoning. Writing is an essential tool, and the only way to achieve the final result, which develops during the writing.”
In between the interviews, the poet Yonadav Kaplon, who has run creative writing courses at MLI for several years, conducted writing exercises with the participants, in which they were asked to express their feelings during the course of the event in several different formats - in an SMS, in a Haiku poe, and in the form of a legal verdict. Kaplon closed the evening by reading a Rainer Maria Rilke poem on the subject of writing.