Leadership communication styles for a learning and change culture

2 February, 2019
Leadership communication styles for a learning and change culture

How to communicate effectively to develop organisational culture

The pace of change in today’s business environment requires more effective leadership communication styles. There is more need to focus on culture, with leaders employing influence rather than authority. Leadership communication styles required to achieve this in an increasingly knowledge-driven workplace emphasise coaching, mentoring and empowerment.


Leadership communication styles for deeper engagement

There are three key leadership communication styles that help to engage employees and promote a learning and change culture. They are:

1.       Accepting responsibility to promote active engagement

2.       Asking and listening now

3.       Recognising and responding to communication patterns


1.    Accept the responsibility to promote active engagement

It is inherent upon leaders to accept extreme responsibility. As US President Harry S. Truman said, “The buck stops here.” This doesn’t mean that the leader is the cause of every event, but that he or she has a critical role in it. Like the captain that goes down with their ship – the sinking may not have been their fault directly, but the captain has the ultimate moral obligation of responsibility toward it.

Leaders must be engaged with what is happening around them, and this includes using effective leadership communication styles to influence thinking, actions and results: responsibility can be thought of as the ability to respond.

Effective leaders behave with integrity and objectivity, providing role models of a culture of change and engagement.


2.    Asking and listening now

Asking and listening is a powerful competency in leadership communication styles. It provides ultimate evidence of engagement in the conversation, a willingness to learn and a desire to understand. Asking questions influences deeper and more meaningful reflection about the present situation and future opportunities.

Asking people to imagine what would happen if an action were (or were not) taken energises deeper thought and engagement with current problems. It requires people to take ownership of the present and responsibility for the future.

Asking more meaningful questions activates greater reflection. Listening to the answers helps to uncover current thinking and motivates two-way dialogue. The result is greater engagement and more productive collaboration toward collective goals. The best leaders are not afraid of what their employees are thinking, but instead will ask, “What else do we need to think about?”

A leader who is actively engaged in the present will inspire active engagement by employees, and it is this that develops opportunity for positive action. Effective communication strategies help to create the environment in which questions are asked, answers are listened to, and thinking is challenged.


3.    Recognising and responding to communication patterns

The third of these key leadership communication styles is the ability to recognise and respond effectively to communication patterns. Verbal and nonverbal communication patterns have a deeply rooted connection to culture.

If we consider that culture is defined as shared beliefs, values and behaviours of a group, we immediately understand that language is a tool of that culture. This is evident in groups and their use of words and phrases that may, in other cultures, be deemed as entirely inappropriate and with a different meaning. For example, consider the use of the word ‘cool’ – does it mean something that is not hot, or something that is hot (in a different sense of the word ‘hot’)?

By listening for language use, leaders become empowered to shift organisational culture by responding appropriately and effectively. For example, if a leader encounters a negative comment such as “The work process doesn’t allow for new ideas”, a response that will turn this negative perception into a positive conversation might be, “What if we could change process? What ideas would you incorporate into the current process to make it more efficient?”

A positive and challenging response lays the foundation for greater engagement in an environment where the culture embraces both learning and change.


Is your leadership developing a positive culture of employee engagement?

These three leadership communication styles will aid leaders to exert more influence and develop a culture in which employees are more deeply engaged in the present and the future of the organisation for whom they work.

Effective leaders lead the dialogue with engaging conversation that creates positive energy and improves collaboration. To discover how our Learning Map utilises these three key leadership communication styles and helps to improve employee engagement, get in touch with The Big Picture today.

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