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Leadership and Communication

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Introduction

Leadership is the process used by leaders to sets goals, create vision and lead by example so that certain pre-determined goals are met (Clutterbuck and Hirst, 2002). A leader is termed as a failure or success by looking at how well the leader accomplishes the functions assigned to him/ her in the organization. Communication is the exchange of information and thoughts from one person to another through a certain media. For communication to be successful, the information must be understood by its receiver the way it was intended by the sender. Successful leaders achieve the organizational goals as set out in its strategies. Leaders achieve these goals communicating with employees, shareholders, clients and suppliers. They communicate to employees about their duties and how the organization mission and vision should be achieved through their efforts. The Organization leaders communicate with shareholders informing them about the price of shares and the performance of the organization. Communication with the suppliers informs them of the raw materials to supply the organization with as well as the time they are required. The organization, through its leaders communicates to the clients the products and their features. This paper will evaluate the relationship that exists between good leadership and communication. The  following hypothesis will be used: effective communication leads to successful leadership.

Communication Process

To evaluate the role played by effective communication in successful leadership, it is important to evaluate the process of communication. This will help  understand whether communication has any relationship to the effectiveness of leaders. Communication process has several elements such as sender, message, communication channels, and receivers of the message, noise and feedback.

The sender in the communication process is the person who initiates the communication. The sender formulates a message in his/her mind and encodes it on the basis of the language the receiver is likely to understand. Formulation of a message is usually based on specific ideas that the sender expects to communicate to the receiver, either to just inform or to direct him/her to react in a certain way. Therefore, the message should be formulated in a language the receiver is likely to understand. To be effective, the sender must anticipate the possible interpretations the receiver might form. This way, the sender is able to formulate the message in a manner that will reduce wrong interpretations. One important fact to bear in mind while anticipating the receiver’s interpretation is the relationship between the receiver and the sender. When the relationship is less formal, the interpretation may be done with less attention to details as compared to when the relationship is formal, e.g. employer and staff. In an organizational setting, the leaders of an organization must formulate the message in such a way that it comprehensively fits in the organizational context and leads to the achievement of the set goals (Darling et al., 2012). This way, employees may get a better understanding of the message.

The Message refers to the information being relayed by the sender to the receiver. It contains information that requires interpretation by the receiver. The message should be written in a language that is understandable by the receiver for proper interpretation and reaction.

The Communication channel is the medium through which the message will reach the recipient. The agency and context within which the message is being sent determines the medium of communication to be used. Within an organization, managers can communicate directly to employees through the word of mouth, through newsletters or regular meetings. When the message is urgent, direct communication can be very effective while other media can be explored when the message is less urgent.

The receiver is a person for whom the message is intended. Effective interpretation of the message depends on how well the receiver knows the sender. In a situation where the sender and the receiver are acquaintances, the interpretation of the message is simple because the message might be about topics that are of common nature to both. Moreover, the style of writing and the choice of words might be familiar to the receiver.

The Noise refers to anything that disrupts the communication process between the receiver and the sender. Noise is classified into two – external and internal noise. External noise refers to factors outside the persons communicating that interfere with their communications. These are mostly environmental, e.g. sound, smell and sight. Internal noise refers to feelings and emotions of both the sender and the receiver of the message that can hinder the communication process. In an organizational setting, another type of noise called semantics can emerge. Semantic noise occurs when certain symbols and signs used in communication arouse different reactions in the receiver, rather than those intended by the receiver. People from different cultural backgrounds attach different meanings to different symbols. One meaning intended by the sender may be interpreted differently by the receiver if they belong to different cultural backgrounds.

Leadership Functions

A leader in an organization has several functions which articulate the goals of the organization to other aspects of the organization such as material resources and the human aspects (Flatley, 2012). The functions performed by a leader are many and different depending on the type of organization and products manufactured. The following are some of the functions:

Leader as a representative of the organization- the top most leader in an organization represents the organization in external functions such as conferences and seminars. He/she is the figure that represents the presence of the organization in such meetings. The rationale for the existence of the organization is explained to the outside world through him/her. When the leader is not the overall leader, he/she may be a team leader or departmental head. In such a case, the leader represents the interests of the department he/she works for. Organizations are often faced with bad publicity. This negative publicity affects the perception of the world about the organization and its products. This can reduce profitability, market share and lower the performance of the organization. Leaders of organizations function to dispel the bad image created and reinstate a desired image.

A leader works a means of reconciling personal and organization goals. For a leader to accomplish this function there must be substantial effort and motivation in ensuring that a good platform has been created upon which the organization allows employees to meet their personal goals while striving to meet the goals of the organization (Hanges et al., 2005). The good environment can only be created through constant communication and consultation. When the goals of the employees do not match those of the organization, there is no goal congruence. As such, employees may not work hard enough to achieve organizational goals if the environment does not allow them to develop their personal goals. Personal goals can be developed through being rewarded for good performance and being given a chance to advance their careers through training.

A leader solicits support from employees. A leader recognizes the importance of having voluntary support from employees in the implementation of organizational strategy. As such, he/she invites suggestions from employees, so that if they conform to the organizational goals, they can be incorporated in the organizational goals. When employees are involved in decision making, their motivation rises, leading to more willingness to work hard for the organization (Leipzig, 2005). Leaders of an organization involved in soliciting for employee support must have good convincing qualities.

A leader acts as a guide, philosopher and friend to the organization. As a guide, the leader supervises and communicates the organizational policies and plans to the employees with the aim of gaining their support in implementing organizational goals. As a philosopher, he/she utilizes experience and intelligence so that employees can access guidance from him/her. The leader acts as a friend by expressing opinions, expectations and feelings. A friendly environment assures the leader of getting feedback and information concerning everything happening within the organization.

A leader in an organization also performs managerial functions which include planning, organizing, controlling, staffing, leading and communicating. The effective implementation of these functions drives organizations to success.

Planning involves formulating strategies and policies for an organization. Top leaders in an organization are involved in this process because it gives direction to employees on their required inputs in shaping the organization’s future. Moreover, team leaders are involved in planning the activities of their teams so that they can optimize the time at their disposal.

Organizing involves the leader with putting together the tasks requiring common skills together and then assigning the right resources to each. This function works to avoid duplication of results and wastage of resources. Moreover, organizing ensures that there is order in the manner in which the organization implements its strategies.

Controlling engages the manager in ensuring that the plans and policies lain down by the corporate team remain within track. Any deviations from the set out goals are corrected to ensure that the organization does not lose focus of its goals and objectives.

Staffing is the management function that ensures that the organization has the appropriate employees in terms of knowledge and skills. This function ensures that new knowledge and tactics of doing things are available to the organization so that it remains at per with the industry’s trends.

Leading is function that involves the leader in steering the organization at the forefront in the industry.  To lead in the industry within which an organization operates, its leadership must ensure that high, but achievable goals are set.

Communicating function of an organization involves informing the employees about the expectations of the organizations in terms of goal achievement. Moreover, leaders use this function to portray a good image of the organization to the outside world through such processes as public relations and marketing.

Relationship between Leadership Functions and Communication

A successful leader is one who empowers his/her employees, stresses on accountability, discipline, strategic alignment, and is able to manage his/her personal values and those of employees, which should lead to the achievement of organizational goals. All leadership functions use communication to accomplish their goals.

When leaders function as organizations’ representatives in functions such as seminars and conferences, they use communication as a means of show-casing their organizations to the world. Without the process of communication, they cannot accomplish this function and consequently cannot succeed in being leaders without accomplishing leadership functions.

The reconciliatory role of leaders is dependent on communication. For employees to understand the importance of merging their personal goals with those of the organization, the leaders of the organization must engage them in a dialogue. Such a dialogue utilizes the process of communication. Important information required to motivate employees to align their goals and those of the organization are communicated because organizational success depends on their successful interpretation by employees.

When leaders are soliciting for employees support, communication is indispensable. Employees are encouraged to participate in decision-making through communication. Leaders who have become successful have been able to treat employees as partners in their businesses through constant dialogue and consultation.

When leaders act as guides, philosophers and friends to the organization, they use communication as the means to accomplish these tasks. Guiding employees means supervising and communicating organizational policies and plans to employees. The friendly environment created by a leader is meant to encourage employees to open up and communicate their expectations to the leaders as they express theirs to the employees. Without communication, leaders cannot accomplish these functions since communication is an inherent component of these functions.

 In addition, successful leaders master the basic functions of management such as planning, organizing, controlling, staffing, leading and communicating. Among all these management functions, communication lubricates them, and without it, the rest cannot be achieved.

 Planning means laying down the tasks to be carried out so that the goals set out by the organization can be achieved. Effective planning can be done, but if the plans are not communicated to the respective employees for implementation, they become valueless to the organization.

 Organizing involves putting tasks that require common resources together and matching their material requirements with the right combination of skills. These skills are harbored by employees. This means that employees must be involved in the organizing aspect of management function. Their involvement can only be possible if the organizers-leaders of the organization communicate to them what is required from them and how their involvement fits in the organization’s strategies and goals.

Controlling ensures that the limits within which an organization intends to achieve its goals are maintained. Controlling helps an organization to avoid wastage of resources and ensures that all the plans remain on course. When there is no control in an organization, employees may perform tasks that are not fundamental to the achievement of the set out goals. This leads to wastage of time and material resources. Effective leaders in an organization must communicate the scope within which employees must operate. Moreover, they must constantly evaluate the tasks performed to ensure they follow the communicated scope. When the employees have gone off the trail, a corrective measure is taken to ensure conformity of their tasks with the plans of the organization. After the evaluation is done, feedback is very important as it gives the employees their progress with their operations.

Staffing is the process of attracting and recruiting employees by an organization that have the required set of skills and qualifications. Leaders in any organization are involved in determining the skills required and the process of acquiring these skills. After determining the required skills and knowledge, an organization must communicate to potential employees so that they can avail their credentials for interviewing and recruitments. Without this formal communication, potential employees cannot know that an organization needs to recruit them and cannot apply for the required positions.

Every organization aims to lead in the industry within which it operates. For this leading to be achieved, the organization must be able to communicate the features of their products to their customers better than their competitors through promotion and advertisements. Effective communication to consumers about products guarantees that they have the knowledge of the existence of the product and the purpose the product can serve to solve their problems since they buy products to solve certain problems in their lives. This means that effective communication must prevail in an organization if it has to succeed in its mission and vision. Effective communication involves several aspects that are imbedded in the whole communication process (Shaw, 2004). Leaders wishing to be successful must evaluate the process of communication, to ensure that all its aspects are effective and where there are problems, rectification should be done.

Conclusion

Leadership and communication are two inseparable concepts. Effective leaders have utilized the process of communication to achieve the objectives set out by their organizations. All the functions of a leader have been linked to the process of communication. Many organizations operate in complex environments with people from different cultural backgrounds. Bringing all these people together requires the leaders of these organizations to be very effective in crisis management because they are bound to happen due to stereotyping and differences in value systems. Crisis management requires clear communication between an organization’s leadership and staff to resolve the weighty issues causing the crisis. The effectiveness of a leader is gauged by how effective he/she is able to achieve the goals of the organization being led. For managers to succeed in achieving organizational objectives, they must be efficient in their functions as leaders. Success in their functions translates to achievement of organizational goals. As already established, all the leadership functions highly depend on effective communication. The feedback loophole used in communication has proven to be very vital in evaluating the performance of an organization. After evaluating the performance of an organization, the results of the evaluation helps employees to gauge their performance against set parameters and where needed, corrective measures are taken. All this effort is tailored in ensuring that the organization is successful, which translates to the success of its leaders. Since all of these efforts depend on effective communication, it is very rational to conclude that effective communication leads to effective leadership.

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