Leadership Theory: Leading Communication

Leadership Theory: Communication and Leadership

When it comes to communication, there are many theories on the best way a leader can do with his or her direct reports or even to an entire company. Some prefer written methods, delivering a heartfelt personal take on a policy, while others think that a verbal delivery is more effective. Others think that everyone should know everything to minimize water cooler gossip and maintain morale while another segment believes in a “need to know” strategy.

Does any of the following sound like you?

  • You send an email for policy changes, asking employees to respond if they have any questions.
  • You call small, short meetings for simple updates.
  • You call each of your department heads to tell them of product line changes.
  • You leave messages on voice mails with information, sometimes calling when you know the recipient will not be there to answer the phone.
  • You send employees schedule changes via text message.
  • You release a single detail at a time regarding changes in management practice.
  • You engage individuals instead of groups, teams or departments.
  • You spend most of your day at your desk, answering and making phone calls and sending multiple email messages.
  • You walk around your section, building or factory, talking to end users, customers and seeing production or interaction in person.

Leadership Theory in Business

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Hopefully, you found more than one example of how you communicate with your staff. No one way is the right way. Great communicators realize that it is not just about how the message is sent, but also how the message is received, and how to target their audience.

Each example has its upside and its downside. An email for policy changes gives employees direction in writing, but you could potentially get the same question multiple times. Providing the same information in a meeting allows questions to be answered once and create discussion about the reasons behind the change, what it is intended to do, and alleviate concerns. Likewise, text messaging schedule changes may sound wrong, but it is a preferred way of communication for a large demographic, and offers the same proof of transmission that an email would.

Face to face time gives communication the full spectrum of not just the words, but the tone in which it is said and the body language that accompanies it. This can make the message easier to understand and to accept, even the difficult ones to relay. For instance, you can mail or email a permanent layoff letter to an employee or you can deliver it in person. Which way would you rather get the news? And consider the employee – which way would he or she rather get the news?

Leaders using all the communication tools at their disposal have great range in sending and receiving information that can propel the business further. Teams that can rely on many sources of information and have access to their preferred method are more informed and more likely to go out and look for data and information.

There are many choices to consider when communicating with your staff. By phone, by email or in person, the message needs to be clear, concise and relevant to the individual. How leaders communicate is critical to the confidence of their staff and ensuring continued productivity and positive morale.


Leadership traits are essential for effective leadership theory and practice. For more on leadership theory return to our leadership traits hub.

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