Leadership Communication

Question

Based on chapter 9 (Leadership communication) from “the leadership experience” textbook from Richard L. Daft
develop a research paper based on:
how leaders communicate
management communication vs leader communication, strategic conversations,
creating an open communication climate, asking questions, listening, discernment, dialogue, the channel of communication, using electronic communication channels, using stories and metaphors informal communication, communicating in a crisis. Why are these important and how they affect the future of leadership?
Five current articles are to be utilized to support the application of
chapter concepts.

Answer

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Contents

How leaders communicate. 2

Management communication vs. leader communication. 3

Strategic conversations. 4

Creation of an open communication climate, asking questions, listening, discernment and dialogue. 4

Channel of communication: using electronic communication channels. 7

Communicating in a crisis. 8

Effect of communication strategies on the future of leadership management. 9

Conclusion. 10

References. 11

How leaders communicate

Effective leaders communicate both formally and informally. The best managers are aware that the reports they receive from supervisors do not indicate the real scale of the problems that workers face. Therefore, they need to spend time with the workers in order to get a first-hand experience of the problems that they face.

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Leaders communicate through simple components that may deceptively be considered trivial, such as paying attention, asking questions, listening to others and engaging in nonverbal communication. It is imperative for a leader to tailor his messages for use by different stakeholders within an organization. The manner in which the message is presented should reflect the recipient’s level of understanding of the company’s mission and vision.

            A manager may communicate using an email, telephone call, formal report, text message or a face-to-face conversation. The communication process is never complete unless the message that is communicated has been assessed for proper interpretation. People can easily misinterpret messages, both in the workplace and at home. Feedback is a crucial tool that effective managers use to ensure that the intended message is communicated across the organization.

Management communication vs. leader communication

Both management and leadership communication entails the process of sending and receiving information as well as feedback. In management communication, though, the role of a manager is traditionally that of ‘processing information’. This is because a great deal of a manager’s time is spent in communication, either formally or informally, with others.

Managers spend time scanning their workplace environments in search of important facts, ideas, and data. This information is communicated to subordinates. Sometimes, a manager may not be satisfied with the feedback that the receives from these subordinates, meaning that he has to modify the messages, this time putting more attention to ways of eliminating ‘noise’. In other words, a manager has to entangle himself in an information network that is rich in statistics, facts, and decisions in order to get the job done.

Leadership communication, on the other hand, is aimed at achieving slightly different ends. Leaders are often interested in communicating the vision rather than bits of information. When leadership communicators succeed in building trust and commitment to a certain vision, they are considered communication champions (Daft, 2007).

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The best tool for inspirational leaders is communication. Visionary leaders make use of communicative strategies in order to unite people and to enable them to ‘live’ the vision in their everyday undertakings. Without a vision, it becomes difficult for people to learn, solve problems, make decisions and draw out strategies. In order to motivate people to do these things, leadership communicators need to engage in activities that are based on communication in their day-to-day lives. The activities that leaders engage in through formal speeches, presentations, and thoughtful listening are all an indication of a commitment to communication.

Strategic conversations

In strategic conversations, the emphasis is always put on the need to achieve certain strategic goals. Therefore, the themes contained in these conversations need to be related to the strategies that have been laid out. Managers and leaders who engage in strategic conversations use this opportunity to set the strategic agenda. At the same time, they strive to ask questions in order to create an opportunity to listen to others actively.

In a world where many communication channels are available for company executives to use, proper selection considerations for all channels are necessary. Daft (2007) gives an example of the strategic themes that were used by Gerard Kleisterlee, President of Philips Electronics, the largest electronics outfit in Europe. The four technology themes that Gerard chose include ‘storage’, ‘display’, ‘digital video processing’ and ‘connectivity’. This choice of themes was motivated by the need to trigger communication across technology and division boundaries. Such themes are also effective stimulants of questions, dialogue, and an open communication climate.

Creation of an open communication climate, asking questions, listening, discernment and dialogue

            When there is open communication, all types of information are shared within an organization. The information should flow in all directions, meaning that feedback is necessary. In the traditional information flow setting, only certain information was supposed to be conveyed across hierarchical boundaries. For leaders, success cannot be achieved when flow of information in all directions does not take place.

Organizational leaders have a responsibility to open up all communication channels in order to increases the chances of gaining follower acceptance. When followers trust a leader or an organizational manager, the job gets done in accordance with the visions and missions that have been communicated.

An open communication effort is said to have succeeded when employees how their different actions interact with those of other people within an organization. When traditional boundaries are traversed, all employees get an opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization. This is because personal relations thrive among peers as well as across the hierarchical divide.

When the executives of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems were accused of lack of openness in their communication efforts, the company’s leaders had to adopt a new approach to communication. The company resorted to using both internal and external blogs in efforts to create an open communication atmosphere (Daft, 2007).

Tourish& Robson (2006) notes that the role of informal upward communication in today’s organization is being continually neglected. According to Tourish and Robson, few researchers pay attention to feedback studies on opinions that are critical of managerial orthodoxy. Most researchers pay attention to only those researches that focus on communication between non-managerial staff and managers (Tourish& Robson, 2006).

Tourish& Robson (2006) argue that when critical upward communication is eliminated, iatrogenic phenomena are created. Iatrogenic phenomena are organizational problems resulting from the existing treatment regime, rather than a preexisting condition. This becomes evident when managers often commit to only selected courses of action, regardless of whether they mean harm or good to the organization in question.

Leaders who are outstanding listeners are able to expand their influence to many people. Active listening is an excellent way through which a leader expresses concern for the needs of employees. When someone is listened to, he feels a sense of personal satisfaction. in sharp contrast, when some speak without being listened to, he may get mad and feel discouraged to speak out in the future.

By actively listening to what employees feel is a credible thing to do, organizational managers succeed in winning these employees’ confidence. Good leaders listen to the views of their followers even when they do not necessarily agree with these views. When employees are told their needs cannot be accommodated even before they have expressed them, they infer that nobody cares about their opinions. When they make such an inference, they will always hold back their views no matter how relevant they are.

Discernment is a highly effective kind of listening, whereby a leader manages to detect unarticulated messages that are hidden below the surface when people are interacting, complaining or behaving in a certain manner. A leader who fails to discern these covert messages can easily become a failure in his efforts to manage a company. Discernment enables organizational managers to recognize the employees’ and clients’ needs even when these people fail to articulate them properly.

According to Traüffer (2010), discernment is a highly involving decision-making approach for any leader. It is not reliant on best practices, precedents and benchmarking. Rather it involves a holistic understanding of the self and the organization. It also requires leaders to go invite adjustments and self-evaluation in efforts to make judgments that serve the interests of as many people as possible.

Channel of communication: using electronic communication channels

            New communication media have come into being in the form of blogs, web pages, intranets, and email. These forms of communication have expanded the options that are open for a leader. Thus, a manager may choose to send a letter, a text message, email, blog message or a web page posting depending on the nature of the message being communicated. If properly used, today’s channels of communication can enhance relationships between the manager and shareholders, clients and customers.

The richness of communication channels is not the same thing as communication effectiveness. Although a communication channel may be rich, a manager may find it unnecessary to exploit this richness in all situations without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the message. Some of the communications that are available today are so rich that they become complex for managers to use well. They require managers to be able to use multiple cues simultaneously. Some of them, for instance, online chat messages, also require rapid, two-way response, sometimes not because of necessity, but because technology makes it possible.

Face-to-face communication is the richest medium since it permits multiple information cues, direct experience, personal focus, and immediate feedback. The telephone is also rich but not as rich as face-to-face since visual contact is missing. Email communication has become exceedingly popular today. Emails are increasingly being used in situations whereby telephone conversations were previously being used.

Communication technology continues to proliferate because of technological innovation (Loa & Lie, 2008). Revolutionary communication tools have a radical effect on how people behave while communicating. However, this does not mean that new communication technology directly leads to the replacement of old technology. Rather, it provides communicators with additional choices. According to Loa & Lie (2008), media selection decisions in the era of new communication technology are made on the basis of information richness. Loa and Lie also highlight the differences in communication media choices between long-distance and short-distance communication, whereby the degree of trust is a dominant factor.

The formality of the communication setting also determines the choice of new communication channels. Managers who want to traverse the obstacles of formality have an opportunity to make the best use of Internet technology in order to engage in informal discussions with their employees through instant messaging, emails, video conferencing and weblogs. These channels have an air of informality that resembles a story-telling setting. Informal metaphors can be useful to both parties to the communication in order to build trust and understanding.

Communicating in a crisis

When communicating in a crisis, a manager has to inject his best stroke of leadership genius into every corner of the company. He has to stay calm while listening harder. He also has to be visible as well as tell the truth. He should also take the opportunity of the prevailing crisis in order to communicate the company’s vision for the future. He has to relate everything to work even though the need to cater to people’s emotional and physical needs has to take precedence.

The choice of channels of communication should be done with utmost care. Sweetsera&Metzgar (2007) investigated the impact that blogs have on relationship management in times of crisis. Their experiments involved the use of both personal and organizational blogs. They found out that blogs have an impact on the way in which the level of an organizational crisis is perceived. Additionally, the relationships nurtured through blogs during crises had an impact on the perception of a crisis within an organization, with the main variables being use and credibility.

Effect of communication strategies on the future of leadership
            management

Leaders have to communicate in order to ensure that the organizations that they head are running in an effective manner on a day-to-day basis. Strategic conversations are critical for the purposes of ensuring that the missions and visions of a company are achieved. Every strategic organizational leader has to keep engaging in strategic conversations from time to time in order to give a sense of direction in subordinates.

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The presence of open communication shapes organizations positively, leading to a progress-oriented organizational culture. When such a culture becomes acceptable to employees, all the strategic goals set out are achieved. As a company’s strategic thinker, every organizational leader needs to anticipate changes in communication channels and their usefulness to the company. The leader has to make decisions on which channels are worth investing in and which ones are not, in terms of creation of the ideal communication climate

Leadership strategies can only be regarded as sustainable when a feeling of trust is built among employees at all levels. As heads of modern organizations chart out strategies for the future, open communication channels must be continually replaced with traditional ones that used to emphasize the selective transmission of information.  Modern information and communication technology provides many tools through which future leadership management efforts can be undertaken.

Conclusion

Leadership communication is a skill that managers should learn to use in order to steer their organizations in the right direction. They should be able to communicate in a manner that stimulates employees to go about their daily activities with a sense of commitment. The challenges of leadership communication can be tackled well if leaders incorporated the needs and aspirations of their employees into their strategies. This way, employees can learn to associate the vision and mission of the company with their own personal ambitions.

The secret in leadership communication lies in winning the trust of other people. It is only when such aims are achieved that a leader can influence other people to adopt his own views. The position of leaders is critical when viewed from a strategic management perspective since the decisions that leaders make affect the future level of performance of the organizations that they lead. Therefore, competent organizational leaders should always be willing to learn new communication strategies in order to succeed in their managerial work.

References

Daft, R. (2007) The leadership experience, New York: Thompson South-Western

Loa, S. & Lie, T. (2008) Selection of communication technologies—A perspective based on information richness theory and trust, Technovation, 28(3), 146-153

Sweetsera, K. &Metzgar, E. (2007) Communicating during crisis: Use of blogs as a relationship management tool, Public Relations Review, 33(3), 340-342

Tourish, D. & Robson, P. (2006) Sensemaking and the Distortion of Critical Upward Communication in Organizations, Journal of Management Studies, 43(4), 711 – 730

Traüffer, H. (2010) Towards an understanding of discernment: a conceptual paper, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 31(2), 176 – 184.

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