Communication in Leadership is an essential tool for improving performance within the organization. Unfortunately, and regardless of the list of priorities, initiatives, and motivational slogans most of the leadership communication is babble; meaning it is just a waste of time and resources and nothing constructive comes out of it. In fact, as Matha, Boehm & Silverman (2015) elaborate in most organizations leadership communication causes more harm than good and sometimes confusion, rather than clarifying the issues, to inspire focus and action. However, it does not have to be that way. The On Strategy philosophy provides leaders with ways to improve communication within the organization by making strategy the topic of conversation within the communication channel. Leaders implement the strategy in three different steps, with step one focusing on the Action Equation. The Equation organizes what leaders should communicate to address what employees need to know and feel so that they can act and initiate the right actions.
Communication Begins with Do
Before everything else, firstly the leader needs to determine what the organization intends to accomplish. Secondly, and just as important as the first one, the leader should outline what employees need do to achieve those goals. An organization’s leader must answer these two questions if he or she is ready to communicate. Thirdly, as Matha et al. note, leaders who are willing to lead must reduce directions to a small proportion of the primary objectives and key strategies that direct people what and how they are supposed to accomplish the goals set forth. Along with that, the policy recognizes the idea of individuals who are well versed with the job to make the right decisions. Nevertheless, at the same time, leaders should provide limits to keep the organization on track. They should also be able to give their perspective of the variety of choices faced by employees to help in the decision-making process. As it is, good leaders should match their actions to what they ask the employees to do. Another thing, On Strategy, supports knowledge sharing among leaders and staff. It acknowledges the importance of creating a knowledge-based organization to increase collaboration, but first, it is important first to clarify everything to the concerned parties.
Employees need to Know
The know portion is informed by leaders as they decide what employees should do. They frame issues in the direction of the overall organizational goals and connect dots for employees between what individuals, the organization is doing, and what is going on outside the organization. The connections help employees evaluate activities against the company’s goals as they focus on undertaking the right activities.
What do Employees need to Feel?
In almost every situation, employees can have that one connection to their job that gives them a special attachment. It involves what people do because they love doing it and not because they are paid for it. According to Matha et al., the intrinsic motivation usually emanates from an affinity for customers, energy around the nature of the job itself, or the close relationships between teams.
In the same way, employees do something for a reason; there are reasons why they will not do certain things. The “Why Nots” do not have a constant direction and usually emanate from current to past issues. Sometimes employees find it hard believing that a particular strategy will work with the customers. Even worse is when they fail to trust management to follow up on the plan and stick to it to the end.
The conversation platform is a tool used by leaders from the top to bottom level to remember the information they need to communicate at the moment. According to Martha et al., it helps leaders to deliver information in a way that employees can listen and remember. Besides, it promotes conversations and discourages speeches, presentations, or one-way monologs. In reality, the conversation platform is not a list of message points, but a conceptual gateway to the information in the Action Equation and is made up of five chunks. Based on this information, we seek to develop a conversation plan for my organization considering the most pertinent elements of the action equation.
|4. Measure Success Focus on the main metrics for customer satisfactionInclude new measure for customer satisfactionGet instant customer feedback from surveysAct on customer feedback for improved performance|
|2. Expand our customer base and sell more products and services Introduce new customersCome up with new product lines for the existing clientsShift the product mix in the major marketsAdd new product lines for the incoming customers|
The people Channel
In an organization consistency in instructions, perspective, and clarity matters. This is particularly true because employees look up to their bosses for answers regarding every issue affecting their operations in the workplace. When employees get conflicting directions from the management, they are usually confused as to who to follow. However, research shows that they are more likely to develop the lowest person in the hierarchy of leadership and align their support to them. This means, if for example, the supervisor’s perspective is flawed, the process will most likely fail, which will affect the bigger image of the organization. Based on this information, we develop a particular people channel for a specific team and include specific individuals that align with different roles to understand fully the people channel dynamic. Further along, we discuss the roles of these people and the various communication methods used at each level.
|Communicate through conversations|
|Communicate through communication channels|
An overview of People Channel Dynamic Model
At the top-most level is the chief executive officer who is responsible for setting the tone of the organization’s brand, management, and operations. Usually, the CEO is seen as a strategist who collaborates with other senior executives to come up with plans and ensure they are implemented. Second-in-line is the senior managers who are bound by the company’s activities in every decision making process they embark on. The senior executives are responsible for planning and directing the processes in the organization and are assigned groups of individuals. Their responsibilities and authority surpass that of front-line managers, and they typically report to the CEO. Third in line is the front-line managers who are directly responsible for various departmental operations such as goods productions, delivery of services, and supervision of clerical duties. Normally they are in the lower levels of management. While I worked at the former organization, I worked as a front-line manager. Fourth in line is the first-line supervisors who are responsible for various segments within the production and operation departments. They directly supervise and coordinate workers in the assigned roles. Fifth in line is the front-line employees who are responsible for interacting directly with the consumers or in the production process.
The people channel strategy aligns leaders in a top, bottom alignment to deliver consistent and strategic messages to all employees in different levels. In addition, it equips leaders with the ability to deliver information in conversations rather than one-way monologs or speeches. Within the organization, different methods are used to communicate between the various levels of management. For instance, between the CEO and the senior managers, the preferred mode of communication is usually in the form of board meetings. During these meetings, the CEO outlines the proposed strategy and invites members to contribute by giving their opinions and ideas. What follows later is a brainstorming session, to determine the right procedure to adopt. Communication between the senior managers and the subordinates is also usually in the form of meetings, emails, and corporate broadcasts. When senior managers wish to communicate back to the CEO of the company, they may prefer to do briefings in the form of emails, text messages, or net meetings. Front-line managers and supervisors are usually responsible for the employees. The preferred method of communication is usually face-to-face conversations, emails, and text messages.
Sometimes, leaders tend to talk about important issues in an evasive and empty way, corroding the organization’s ability to attain its potentials. However, as Holden (2016) notes, effective communication is imperative to remove barriers to communication in organizations. As it is, effective leaders explain to the employees in a way that shows that they understand their difficulties and outline the process to overcome the problems. One way leaders can overcome this is through the action equation.
Importance of Action Equation in Effective Leadership
The action equation organizes what leaders should communicate to their employees by first focusing on the leader’s thoughts on what employees should do and expands it to address what employees need to know and feel to implement the right actions. Besides effective leaders, need the strategy to identify the most critical information to communicate to the employees, by filtering out information that wastes time or that is not likely to yield any productive results. In addition to the above, the action equation normally ensures that communication across all levels of authority is in the form of a conversation. In fact, it ensures that all employees are engaged in a process to understand how the organization strategy works, how it affects their work, and why they should adopt it in their course of action. In essence, effective leaders need the Action Equation to define the direction their organization is headed, the responsibilities of their employees, and employees’ motivation to take the right action.
Advantages of Narrowing Strategic Messages into a Conversation Platform
In organizations, strategic messages focus on the ability of a leader to articulate clear and compelling visions and strategies for the future success of the company (Walker, 2014). The narratives are a convincing lot where employees and stakeholders should understand their place in the bigger story and how they can play their role in ensuring the success of the organization. Unfortunately, most leaders do not understand the importance of crafting the strategic messages, which ends up crippling the company’s operations. The conversation platform as Matha et al., assert presents an excellent platform, where the messages can be framed in a way that leaders can recall and discuss the narratives in a way that the employees can listen attentively to them. Besides, the conversation platform allows messages to be narrowed down with one core message that is supported by four building blocks. This makes it easy to lay emphasis on the specific information depending on how relevant and important it is to initiate employee actions. In reality, the platform condescends information and organizes it in a way that makes it more accessible to the relevant groups.
Significance of the People Channel to Effective Leadership Communication
Normally, employees look up to the top management for advice, perspective, and clarity on various issues affecting their line of work. They also expect uniformity in all the aspects or orders issued from the top management to the lowest in authority. For instance, employees getting one direction from a supervisor and a different one from the CEO are likely to follow the director and the top management will lose. The people channel helps in aligning communication leadership in a consistent and strategic form for effective communication (Matha et al., 2015). In addition to the above, it equips leaders with the ability to deliver information in conversation when addressing issues affecting the employees’ productivity within the organization. Alongside these significances, the people channel also allows for an active platform where knowledge and ideas are expressed in the form of a discussion between leaders and employees. This way, leaders can engage their workforce and listen to their ideas and opinions, which form a very important part in decision-making.
When communicating to teams in an organization, leaders need to relay the company goals to all relevant parties and in the most effective ways. This course has by far, enlightened me on the benefits and ways of initiating effective communication. As an individual and aspiring leader, narrowing strategic messages to action equation and applying the people channel in effective leadership communication are two elements of the course that highly appealed to me. Firstly, the action equation has helped me understand the importance of developing a strategic narrative. Instead of presenting information in a series of bullets of numbers in a PowerPoint presentation, a strategic narrative paints a clear picture of how the past, present, and future or an organization fit together for the success of the company. On the other hand, the people channel has taught me the dangers of using passive communication in the organization. When leaders fail to engage their employees or teams adequately, they fail to generate good discussions critical for effective communication. As a leader, I intend to apply the people channel always to initiate an active platform where everyone can raise their ideas and opinions. As it is, I believe in the power of engaging employees fully as a way of increasing their understanding of strategies, which makes it easier for them to embrace the objectives of the company for future success.
Holden, G. (2016). Operational and Communication Effectiveness, and Leadership Structures in Law Enforcement Organizations. Denver: Outskirts Press.
Matha, B., Boehm, M., & Silverman, M. (2015). Beyond the Babble: Leadership Communication that Drives Results. John Wiley & Sons.
Walker, R. (2014). Strategic management communication for leaders. Australia: South-Western.
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