Effective leaders know that communication must be personalized to be effective. Each situation encountered in the workplace needs to be addressed at a level comfortable for everyone involved.
Leaders must communicate messages and gain feedback with confidence and care. As such, in order to be effective at conveying their message, leaders must pay close attention to individual differences and situations that provide them with a specific context to communicate in.
Leaders must rely on communication to resolve issues that negatively impact the workplace environment and their leadership image. By using persuasion, consultation and empowerment, managers can effectively lead people and positively influence the work environment. In order to successfully present their thoughts and ideas to subordinates, it is important for leaders to fully utilize these three basic communication styles.
How and when leaders apply the styles depends upon the particular situation and the motivation for using them. The three styles are discussed below in more detail.
Persuasive communication is the cornerstone of motivation and task accomplishment. Leaders who use this style are influential in fostering positive change in the workplace. Part of persuasion entails utilizing motivational comments like, “This is great. Let’s do it!” Persuasive communication is most effective in the following situations:
- Leaders often look to gain a commitment or agreement from their employees. This style works effectively for introducing new ideas, altering performance, deviating from an ineffective course of action, or adapting to various changes in the workplace. Persuasive communication focuses on influencing others in a positive and exciting way.
- Leaders may need to complete a task or assignment in a given time frame or with particular outcomes. Persuasive communication helps define the importance of a given task or situation. A leader’s effectiveness at attaining employee cooperation depends upon the excitement imbued in the message and its delivery.
- When leaders want to encourage a higher level of trust from their employees, they deliver a series of persuasive messages and actions that reinforce employee confidence, abilities and involvement.
Consultative communication is effective for building and maintaining involvement. It cements employee loyalty in the leader. This style utilizes open-ended questions like, “What do you think needs to be done here?” Such questions unearth hidden issues and personal agendas. This style helps define the direction to take related to the following circumstances:
- Sometimes there is a need to shift an employee’s thinking away from a particular idea. Consultative communication can also help redirect an employee who is doing something that is not productive.
- Employees need to know they play a key role in determining a direction, course of action, or outcome. Consultative communication is primarily used to build trust. It is also effective when defining goals, objectives, performance standards or specific expectations.
- Leaders often want to increase their employees’ participation. This style is effective for securing involvement in a task or assignment that may be intimidating because of either change or the employee’s uncertainty about the abilities or skills that they need to complete a task.
The empowering style is effective when leaders want employees to accept responsibility. Leaders utilizing this style tend to use phrases such as, “do as you see fit” and “make decisions you think need to be made” along with words such as, “effectively” and “efficiently.” This style is best used in the following situations:
- Leaders require cooperative efforts. When situations necessitate the employee work with little direction to complete a task, this style can be used to cement their confidence and help them attain self-motivation. At the same time it helps equalize employee workloads and instills the desire in people to achieve or surpass expectations.
- Leaders may need to delegate. In this situation, the empowering style is especially effective when combined with the consultative style. Used together, leaders don’t defer responsibility, but acquire commitment to their goals and tasks by fostering respect and harmony between themselves and their subordinates.
- Leaders demand improved outcomes and standards from employees. The empowered style works to motivate, amplify efforts and multiply results. It is very effective at gaining trust and respect while motivating people to perform at higher levels.
Adapted from: Improving Communications in the Workplace (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)