Communication is both given and received, and is direct and indirect. Communication is foundational to learning. Indirectly, body language sends a message. In order to send an accurate, authentic, and trustworthy message, body language must be congruent with the direct message. “Communication is based on shared language, culture, and experience”. Without these commonalities the message is easily misunderstood.
To be understood as a leader, we must know our followers and consider their views, then craft our communication to enhance what messages the follower receives and how they receive it. Communication is the most important process in the success or failure of an organization. Worldview is an important aspect of communication.
Our worldviews are created by our own experiences, cultural influences, religion, gender, education, and other factors, according to researchers. Our worldviews are our perceptions of reality and the “game book” from which we play.
A person’s worldview concerns the comprehension and conception of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it, according to that particular person. …It is a mental model of reality, being an entrenched framework of ideas and attitudes about the world, life, and ourselves, and incorporates a comprehensive system of beliefs.
In order to relate to individuals, we must be open, and consider that our perception’s and views of reality are not necessarily the same as the individuals we are trying to lead. Poor communication and ineffective change management can be the result of not being able to think beyond our own worldview.
Trust is important for effective communication. Successful leadership requires that followers trust their leaders. A safe environment is needed for followers to share their concerns without negative consequence. Followers need to believe that their leader is authentic and trustworthy, is committed to their success, and have a sense of being valued. Trust enables followers to open their minds to hear what the leader is offering and receive feedback without feeling defensive.
Leaders who convey an interest in follower development, and value each employees’ skills, and acknowledges what they bring to the organization, empowers his followers and creates the opportunity for open dialogue.
Change agents who engage with employees individually and personally do so through relationship. Relationship is foundational to trust and communication. Without relationship trust will be lacking and communication poor. Trusted, engaged leaders are approachable and garner respect and confidence from subordinates. A study by Shanker & Sayeed (2012) showed that leaders who exhibit compassion, empathy, and helpfulness toward followers may well be perceived as leaders who are not only working for the organization, but as caring, empathetic and compassionate as well. Cultivating relationships helps to create a healthy organizational climate. Creating a healthy organization is a driving force for change.
Economic and social conditions in the 21st Century are different than they’ve ever been. Technology has created accessibility where borders once stood. Our world is “flatter” than any previous model, and essentially limitless. Everyone has seen the impact of change. Change is positive in most cases but has the potential for negative impact. Although change affects us individually and in a global manner, I believe that it starts “at home.” Each of us leads, whether in an organizational context or not. Each of us is a change agent in our own lives. The principles for effective change are the same:
- Leaders must have followers
- Change is inevitable and must be managed
- Relationships are foundational both individually and globally
- Communication and trust are built upon relationships
Striving to hear what followers mean rather than what they say is the path to effective communication. “Communication is the means by which organizations compete and survive in the global economy, especially as business environments become more complex. “Leaders as effective change agents use their best practices learned locally, and globalize them”.
Merriam Webster defines relationship as a state that centers on connection, or binding participants, a kinship. Although relationship is a noun it is a state of being, therefore requiring action on the part of the participants.
Organizational change is an intricate process that is most successful when a leader is trusted, communicates well, and seeks a relationship with those whom he leads. Relationships take time and effort. The time to start is now. Give your organization the best possible opportunity to survive in our world of constant flux. Be a change agent and impact your world.
 (Pederson, D., 1997)
 (Raina, R., 2010)
 (Yang, J., 1998)
 (Heckroodt, S., 2013)
 (Shanker, M., 2012)
 (Shanker, M. & Bin Sayeed, O., 2012)
 (Saruhan, N., 2014)
 (George, B., 2005)