Communication is generally defined as the exchange of thoughts, ideas, or even information that is conveyed through words, actions, or symbols. Organizations and companies utilize two types of communications namely; downward form as well as upward form. upward communication entails subordinates sending messages to the leaders who are above them in the rank. In downward form, the managers or rather leaders send messages to the assistant staff (Solomon, 1998 P 120).
Leadership communication on the other hand refers to a proscribed, focused conveyance of meaning by which managers/leaders put influence to individuals, groups, organizations, or even communities. Leadership communication makes use of various effective communication skills and resources that would help the leaders to develop and pass over messages that direct, inspires, and motivate the subjects to take a certain course of actions (Kouzes & Posner, 1993 p 110).
Managerial communication skills are those skills that enable the managers to effectively conduct their roles in a manner that would reflect effective management of other people starting with face-to-face interaction with the workers, groups, and other leaders. Managerial communication entails making use of effective interpersonal skills as well as mastering one’s emotional intelligence to be able to communicate effectively. A good manager should be in a position to understand cross-cultural diversities at the places of work which is a very useful skill when interacting with workers. It helps one to make disciplined communication that is, being sensitive to cultural diversities so that one would not offend the workers from a certain background.
It is always advisable for leaders in any organization to develop a strong and effective communication strategy. Whenever adjustments are to be communicated to the workers, leaders should try to pass key information such as their commitment to change as part of the management and their enthusiasm to see the projects through despite the negative consequences that may come along. It is also very important to communicate to the stakeholders that changes may have negative impacts on some people so that they are not caught unaware (Bamlund, 1962 p 208).
Communication strategy is the key to ineffective management in any working environment. Leaders and managers should be in a position to evaluate their subjects in every situation and create a communication approach that would assist in the achievement of communication intentions in any working environment.
Leaders who can structure and come up with uncomplicated, efficient, and multifaceted connections as well as documents, write excellent e-mails, letters, and proposals are usually equipped to take their organizations to a higher level.
The connection between leadership and communication
A good leader should be in a position to communicate their expectations for the behavior that is agreed to be acceptable or unacceptable in any organization. This gives them a greater sense of control and also it shows that they are committed to working and enhancing leadership. Effective leaders should also communicate the degree to which they are linked to all their subjects’ circumstances and feelings. In short, it is the extent to which they are in touch with their employees’ situations and feelings (Bamlund, 1962 P 201).
This acts as a motivation to the employees who feel wanted and take pride in the adjustments being implemented in the organization. It is therefore apparent that if leaders communicate efficiently, they would succeed in lessening resistance to change and allow staff positive pursuit of change. In short, communicating with employees allows effective operation and avoids resistance especially when there are adjustments taking effect.
Change is inevitable in every organization or rather in the working environments. Leaders are bestowed with the power to enact changes for the betterment of the organizations they represent. At some point, management does change. It is paramount that leaders who are outgoing act diligently and handle over all the vital information to the incoming one, failure to which, many negative outcomes that affect the organization ensue. Leaders should communicate a sense of confidence to the employees especially when major adjustments arise to stump out tensions. They ought to communicate their feelings concerning the changes which might be taking effect. Another important aspect is that they should communicate the extent to which they trust the capabilities of their workers to persevere through the period of change. Effective leaders also should communicate a sense of responsibility, purpose, and commitment to their work especially if there are changes that are taking effect. It is worth noting that leaders who communicate the extent to which they accept the feelings and the reactions of the stakeholders are better placed to take their organization to a higher level by achieving better results whenever changes are being implemented (Cialdini, 2001 p 72)
Ineffective communication arises when the leaders or managers fail to establish key aspects in communications. By key aspects of communication, we mean the framework or rather structures and factors necessary to ensure effective communication. Such issues in communications occur due to;
Inability to provide feedback
When the managers fail to provide an effective environment for the stakeholders and the subordinates to provide feedback, implementations for change become hampered in a significant way. Feedback is paramount in the working environment since it provides grounds in which the stakeholders feel to be a part of the organization as well as get a sense of purpose and since they have invested in the organization. It is worth making sure that leaders adopt openness in communication to enable the subjects to share their ideas, opinion, apprehensions as well as their desires with the organization managers. This is one of the methods that ensure productivity at the place of work (Mintzberg, 1973 p 27).
Lack of directedness
Many issues arise in organizations and places of works due to a lack of directedness. His is a situation in which people who are within the organization go behind their counterparts’ back instead of laying strategies to solve any misconception that may occur in the place of work. In other circumstances, some leaders try to solve a problem that ought to have been undertaken by one individual, and in so doing, he orders the whole team to fix that problem (Cialdini, 2001 p 76).
Lack of specificity
This is an issue that arises when the managers are not specific in their communication which brings confusion to those receiving the communication. People on the receiving end, therefore, have to read the mind of the leader. lack of specificity means that the information given might be distorted in the process of communication. This usually makes the stakeholders question the suitability of the leaders, a situation that may bring about major controversies. When one is not specific, it means that the subjects become mixed up, they fail to understand the correct specifications following particular circumstances.
(Gary, 2002 p 4).
Lack of immediacy
To a greater extent lack of immediacy is the same as procrastination. This is a situation where leaders avoid communications, especially when the message they want to pass is difficult and the leaders find themselves unable to approach the other parties so that they don’t offend them. That delay in passing an important message to the subject is not appropriate at all and it hampers communication in the places of works (Mintzberg, 1973 p 47).
Managers and leaders who can structure a good communication plan are up for the task of ensuring that their organizations run in a superior way. Managers should be able to write and speak in an anticipated business language that should be clear, concise, and on point. Moreover, they should develop and convey verbal presentations with poise and persuasively utilize graphics which would help them convey their messages. Managerial and corporate communication accomplishment depends on the capability of the managers or leaders to master the core requirements of ineffective communication (Kouzes & Posner, 1993 p 124).
Barriers to effective communication in management
Communication usually involves the conveyance of meaning from one individual to another or many individuals. The ideal communication involves the sender, message, and receiver. The sender selects a message in a certain context and sends it to a receiver. The barriers to communication in a working environment include managers choosing the wrong context when conveying their messages. Sometimes the managers fail to understand their subjects when they send messages. Sometimes it is the wrong choice of the medium that makes the leaders fail to reach the targeted recipients. Business communication requires a choice of a very clear medium so that interruptions can be avoided (Gary, 2002 p 5).
It is also worth noting that leaders who choose the wrong spokesperson to pass a message fail to achieve the intended goals of that communication. Some leaders fail to pick up important cues from the sender during communication. Such cues may indicate the receivers’ cultural misperceptions and negative ethos. A leader should be keen and very to pick up how the message is received by the recipients to ensure accurate and precise delivery of the correct message (Barrett, 2006 p 76).
Key leadership communication features
Key aspects in communications for a leader include;
Focus on feedback
Focusing on feedback is one of the paramount communications. Feedback allows the leaders to get other people’s ideas, interests, and desires. A leader can utilize the feedback given to make improvements at the place of work. It is worth it for the leaders to recognize that it is through feedback that they get information concerning the impact they create in their endeavors. They also get to recognize their weakness and the areas that they need to improve on (Mintzberg, 1973 p 36).
Whenever adjustments are to be made, leaders should be at the forefront in ensuring that they create awareness to all people who are the beneficiaries as well as those who might get affected by the adjustments.
Openness and honesty
One of the most vital aspects of communication is openness to the people one is communicating with. Availing all information needed and avoiding situations that they would be tempted to conceal the information. Good managers should be honest with all the stakeholders. Honesty depicts a leader’s trustworthiness and it helps the subjects, as well as the other stakeholders, have confidence in the organization. In Many organizations especially those that handle huge amounts of money, communication of accurate results without any distortion is very vital. Once the leaders come openly and disclose the full information to the stakeholders, it is unlikely that they will get negative feedback.
The form of communication used by Fonterra
One of the forms used widely used by the leaders of Fonterra is a direct form of communication with the shareholders of the company. There is evidence that the company makes use of the internet to convey the message to all the farmers. Another form of communication utilized by the company includes briefings, use of monthly magazines, letters, annual reports, televisions, and directors’ roadshows.
The use of television would so far be the best form of communication for Fonterra Company. The reason why this form would be recommended is that it reaches many people. This form uses both visual and audio form, therefore, it would make more people get understand well what is being communicated to them.
Accuracy and completeness
Just listening to feedback alone would not ensure completeness or even the accuracy of the message. The accuracy of the message depends on the form and the medium of communication chosen. If the medium used has some faults, the feedback given does not reflect the true opinion and desires of the people. Completeness of the communication is enhanced whenever all aspects of communication are put into consideration including being honest in giving the right feedback, being open to all the stakeholders, and creating awareness on essential matters.
Formal communication in Fonterra Company
Fonterra Company makes use of formal communication. It prepares both half and reports and avails the information to the farmers. Letters from the chairman of the board are another form of formal communication that the company embraces (Bamlund, 1962 p 201).
The connection between leadership and communication
Scholars do agree on the most comprehensive definition of leadership, however, they don’t agree that leaders should lead entirely guide and motivate others. In the actual sense, leaders are individuals who are the center of influence in all the organizations as well as in the communities. They even influence others to work towards the objectives that they have made on behalf of the whole community. Their work is to make adjustments and improve the organizations’ performance in all areas. For the organizations to achieve good results, proper coordination from the leaders is very essential. Therefore, it is very prudent for the leaders and the managers to put a communication structure that would ensure effective coordination to achieve the laid down goals for the organization they represent. It is through good communication skills that a leader can be able to foster and develop trust and understanding that would give confidence to their subjects. If a leader has inappropriate communication skills, they hamper the growth and effective running of their organizations. Therefore, it is construed that the absence of good communication at the places of works portrays a problem in the management and this is reflected in the performance (Bamlund, 1962 P 199).
Linking management change to communication
Change is inevitable in every organization or rather in the working environments. Leaders are bestowed with the power to enact changes for the betterment of the organizations they represent. At some point, management does change. It is paramount that leaders who are outgoing act diligently and handle over all the vital information to the incoming one, failure to which, many negative outcomes that affect the organization ensue. Leaders should communicate a sense of confidence to the employees especially when major adjustments arise to stump out tensions. They ought to communicate their feelings concerning the changes which might be taking effect. Another important aspect is that they should communicate the extent to which they trust the capabilities of their workers to persevere through the period of change. Effective leaders also should communicate a sense of responsibility, purpose, and commitment to their work especially if there are changes that are taking effect. It is worth noting that leaders who communicate the extent to which they accept the feelings and the reactions of the stakeholders are better placed to take their organization to a higher level by achieving better results whenever changes are being implemented (Cialdini, 2001 p 72).
A good leader should be in a position to communicate their expectations for the behavior that is agreed to be acceptable or unacceptable in any organization. This gives them a greater sense of control and also it shows that they are committed to working gives their organization better leadership. Effective leaders should also communicate the degree to which they are linked to all their subjects’ circumstances and feelings. in short, it is the extent to which they are in touch with their employee’s situations and feelings (Bamlund, 1962 P 201). This acts as a motivation to the employees who feel wanted and take pride in the adjustments being implemented in the organization. It is therefore apparent that if leaders communicate efficiently, they would succeed in lessening resistance to any changes in the organizations and encourage the employees to move through the change positively and with vigor. In short, communicating with the employees allows effective cooperation and avoids resistance especially when there are adjustments taking place.
Effective communication during change implementation
It is worth mentioning that communication involves the conveyance of important messages in any working environment. It is therefore paramount that when leaders construe communicating changes, they ought to choose intelligently the messages they should send to the employees and the content that should be sent to the employees. Whenever communicating changes to the employees, leaders should ensure they convey various aspects of the changes, this includes the fact that their commitment to the changes irrespective of the negative consequences that might come along the way during the implementation. They should recognize that when changes arise, negative effects to some people are inevitable. With such knowledge, they should be in a better position to communicate to the employees in advance so that they are wont to be surprised when such situations arise (Cialdini, 2001 p 74).
What leaders should recognize in the communication of changes in the four vital questions, that is, who, what, when, and how?
The question who
This question should evaluate the people whom the changes might affect. No matter how the employees might be kept in the dark when implementing changes, one clear-cut situation is that at a point the impact will have to be seen. Therefore, effective managers go a step further to communicate changes to all the employees, failure to include all the employees only creates a situation in which resistance becomes elevated when the impacts become explicit (Gary, 2002 p 5).
The question what
To determinate the content to be communicated, an effective leader should consider what they aim to attain if certain adjustments are to be made. This is aimed at stumping out ambiguity and uncertainty that may be created. The other advantage is that the leader would be pre-empting the concealed information to avoid the spread of information that would provoke anxiety (Gary, 2002 p 4).
The question when
This is a question that evaluates the appropriate time to communicate important information. Effective leaders should know that communicating vital information early enough to the employees is the most effective period since it makes it less likely to pass erroneous information as opposed to a situation when the leaders delay in conveying the messages.
The question how
This question is paramount. The leader needs to establish the way he/she should pass the information, whether in a group setting or one-on-one meeting with each employee. Presentation of information in a group setting ensures that every individual in the group receives uniform information and at the same time. It also gives the employees a chance to interact and exchange opinions concerning the information passed. However, it is difficult to pass information concerning personal effects that might arise in a group (Cialdini, 2001 p 74).
Communication as a process of conveying one message from one individual to another is a very key area that many managers and leaders are concerned with. The major challenge to any leader in the working environment is ensuring there is effective communication. Various aspects of managerial communication are very essential. It is worth noting that communication marks the greatest part. Various issues arise in the working environment especially when leaders ignore the essential aspects of communication. The moment leaders become empowered with leadership communication skills, they become better placed to enhance performance in the organization they represent
For communication to be effective, various factors need to be considered. The leaders should focus on their association with their employees, the extent to which they instill a sense of control and confidence in those employees, and the degree to which they involve all employees especially when they are implementing changes in the organization.
List of References
Bamlund, D.C. (1962) Toward a meaning-centered philosophy of communication. Journal of Communication, 12, 197-211.
Barrett, D.J. (2006) Leadership Communication. The definition of and model for leadership communication are based on this book. New York, McGraw-Hill.
Cialdini, R. (2001) Harnessing the science of persuasion. Harvard Business Review, 79 (9), 72-80.
Gary, L. (2002) Quoting Goleman in “Becoming a Resonant Leader,” Harvard Management Update. 7(7), 4 – 6.
Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (1993) Credibility: How Leaders Gain it and Lose it, Why People Demand it. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Mintzberg, H. (1973) The Nature of Managerial Work. New York, Harper & Row.
Solomon, R. (1998) Ethical leadership, emotions, and trust: Beyond “Charisma.” In J. B. Ciulla (Ed), Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT, Quorum Books.