Leadership and Communication Scenario

What does leadership mean to you? The definition of leadership is just as much an ambiguous idea to you as it is to the researchers that strive to define it. Pinning down a single, definitive answer to my question is all but impossible due to the ever-changing aspects of the subject matter itself. To be a leader, you must have someone to lead. This much everyone agrees is true, however, the rest remains opaque. From this base knowledge, you can begin to build your own definition having first understood that when dealing with people no one definition will ever fit the bill. According to Dr. Victor S. Sohman of Drexel University, leadership and teamwork are two sides of the same coin (2013) one never truly existing without the other. This is an important concept when considering what effective leadership looks like, the communication styles associated with effective leadership and the real-world application of these concepts.

What is Effective Leadership?

James MacGregor Burns defined leadership as “… the reciprocal process of mobilizing, by persons with certain motives and values, various economic, political, and other resouces, in a context of competition and conflict, in order to realize goals independently or mutually held by both leaders and followers”  (Burns, 1978 ). Samson Girma defines leadership as “… the approaches addopted by superiors in their everyday interaction with employees.”  (Girma, 2016) Lastly, Dr. Victor S Sohman addopted the deffinition as follows:

Leadership comprises influence processes affecting the interpretation of events of followers; the choice of objectives for the group or organization; the organization of work activities to accomplish the objectives; the motivation of followers to achieve the objectives; the maintenance of cooperative relationships and teamwork; and the enlistment of support and cooperation from people outside the group or organization (Sohmen, 2013).

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As you can see there is a wide range of oppinions as to the definition of leadership; so if one can not even decide how to define it how can you begin to objectively measure it?

Communication Styles Associated with Successful Leaders

Dr. Victor Sohman did this best by, first setting a very inclusive definition and then adapting the Five-Dimensional Leadership Competency Model developed by K.S. Cameron and D.A. Whetten (2011). These five aspects of leadership are 1. Transformational 2. Transactional 3. Organic 4. Contemporary; and 5. Ethical  (Sohmen, 2013).  Transformational leaders use enthusiasm to motavate their employees; Transactional leaders use rewards to motivate results; Organic leaders emit a sense of inclusion to their team to motivate them to acomplish goals; Contemporary leaders lead by structure to gently push their constituants in the proper direction, and finially; Ethical leaders utalizes their own personal integrity to inspire their people to greatness. Building your leadership style off of a model like this has many benefits. As you can tell, all of these atributes are interchangeable. A leader may use any of these or any combination of at any given point throughout the day to effect change within their company. Therefore, being fluent in these is a critical aptitude of a successful leader.

Real World Applications

The ability to implement these concepts in the real world can be challenging, however, we can all agree that a leader that only communicates when he needs something done, and only tells his team what to do and not why they are doing it will not be effective. While there are a multitude of strategies that a leader could use to correct this lack of communication, there are a few that could prove essential in this situation. The knowledge of generational differences in your employees (and yourself) along with individual strengths and weaknesses are keys to navigating the subversive terrain of leadership. Being able to lead the individual as well as the group will set you on a path to success. Another concept that will allow you to be successful is being able to mutate yourself and the way that you communicate to the person that you are trying to reach. Just saying the words is not enough, especially if you do not say it in a way that they are going to hear you. Learning how to use new technology, electronic communication, and face to face interactions are all critical in maintaining open communication with followers. The implementation of a Contemporary type of leadership coupled with an Ethical addition would likely be a good fit for everybody in this situation. This would allow the leader to maintain some of the structure that they are used to making a more seamless transition of change. The addition of an Ethical form of leadership would serve as a stabilizing factor during change. The sheer presence of a confident and true leader will set everybody involved at ease making it easier to change the culture of the company. If the employees have been particularly upset by the lack of communication the transparent aspects of the Transformational type of leadership would likely help as well.

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All in all, by considering what effective leadership looks like, the communication styles associated with effective leadership and the real-world application of these concepts, you can begin to get an idea of the success of your leadership style. No matter what style or combination of styles you choose to implement, by having quantifiable standards set, one is better able to reliably asses the effectiveness of one’s leadership style to effect change within a company.



Burns, J. (1978 ). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Flauto, F. J. (1999). Walking the Talk: The Relationship Between Leadership and COmmunication Competence. The Journal of Leadership Studies, 86-97.

Girma, S. (2016). The relationship between leadership style, job satisfaction and culture of the organization. International Journal of Applied Research, 35-45.

Sohmen, D. V. (2013). Leadership and Teamwork: Two Sides of the Same Coin. Journal of IT and Economic Development, 1-18.

Whetten, D. A. & Cameron, K.S. (2011). Developing Management skills. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice  Hall /Pearson.

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