Communication and Leadership During Change

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The goal of leader development is "the expansion of the person's capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes."[attribution needed] The two central elements to this are:

  1. Leadership can be learned…people do learn, grow, and change
  2. Leader development helps to make a person effective in a variety of formal and informal leadership roles.[1]

Leader development promotes personal growth, helping individuals develop their abilities to manage themselves, to work effectively with others, and to ensure that the work gets done. Leadership development promotes organizational growth, helping the group as a whole develop the leaders it needs to carry out such tasks as securing the commitment of members and setting direction.[1]

Establishing connections with people who can help one achieve one's goals will increase your chances of emerging as a leader in an organizational context. A great deal of a leader's development happens internally. Leadership development is an "inside-out" process that starts within the leader and then moves outward to impact others.[citation needed] A leader's effectiveness is based on character principles like fairness, integrity, honesty, service, excellence, and growth. According to Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, habits are a combination of knowledge (what to do and why to do it), skill (how to do it), and motivation (wanting to do it).

  • Habit 1 is to be proactive; proactive leaders realize that they can choose how they respond to events.
  • Habit 2 is to begin with the end in mind; effective leaders always keep their ultimate goals in mind.
  • Habit 3 is to put first things first; leader's time should be organized around priorities.
  • Habit 4 is to think win/win; those with win/win perspectives take a mutual gains approach to communication, believing that the best solution benefits both parties.
  • Habit 5 is to seek first to understand, and then to be understood; effective leaders put aside their personal concerns to engage in empathetic listening.
  • Habit 6 is synergize; synergy creates a solution that is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Habit 7 is to sharpen the saw; continual renewal of the physical, social/emotional, spiritual, and mental dimensions of the self.

Spirituality has played a critical role in leaders development, "helping them to make and follow through on their moral choices, develop virtues and character, identify their values and purpose, reaching job assignments and hardships." There are some common spiritual practices that promote leader effectiveness, such as 1. Treating others fairly, 2. Expressing care and concern, 3. Listening responsively, 4. Appreciating the contributions of others, 5. Engaging in reflective practice.,[2] or "Personal Mastery", the first pathway in Cashman's Seven Pathways to Mastery.[3]


It has been argued, by people such as Kevin Cashman, that leadership should be looked at from within.[4] According to Cashman, leadership can be defined as the "authentic self-expression that creates value."[5] This form of leadership can be found at all levels within an organization.[6] He identifies seven pathways for individuals to lead from the inside out. Instead of a hierarchical order, these pathways are created holistically.[7]

Pathway One: Personal Mastery[6]

  • Exploring and getting to know yourself and what is important to you by asking questions such as:
    • What do I believe about myself and other people?
    • What do I believe about leadership
    • What do I believe about life and the world?

Pathway Two: Purpose Mastery[6]

  • Focusing on understanding and using your gifts and talents to add value to those around you
  • Identifying activities that are energizing and exciting

Pathway Three: Change Mastery[6]

  • Letting go of old patterns to enhance creativity
  • Being adaptable and willing to change
  • Changing current reality allows a leader to see a new reality

Pathway Four: Interpersonal Mastery[7]

  • Focusing on the development of interpersonal competencies
  • Seeking feedback from others will help to improve personal relationships

Pathway Five: Being Mastery[7]

  • Using periods of peace and silence to understand one's inner most being

Pathway Six: Balance Mastery[7]

  • Taking time for self, family and friends is critical to maintaining balance in life
  • Achieving balance may be one of the most difficult pathways to master, but is the most important

Pathway Seven: Action Mastery[6]

  • Leading as a whole person by getting in touch with one's authentic self and expressing it to others

Leading followers through change[edit]

According to Klepper (1997), there are four main periods organizations go through when there is change within. The first period is the Formative Period. It is when a new organization is just getting started. Although there is a founding vision, there are no formal definitions. This is just as well because normally there are a lot of experimentation and innovation taking place. These changes of creativity and discovery are needed to overcome obstacles and accomplish breakthroughs. The second period is Rapid Growth Period. Direction and coordination are added to the organization to sustain growth and solidify gains. Change is focused on defining the purpose of the organization and on the mainstream business. The third period is the Mature Period. The strong growth curve levels off to the overall pace of the economy. Changes are needed to maintain established markets and assuring maximum gains are achieved. The fourth and last period is the Declining Period. This is the rough ride. For many organizations it means down-sizing and reorganization. To survive, changes include tough objectives and compassionate implementation. The goal is to get out of the old and into something new. Success in this period means that the four periods start over again. [8]

It is extremely important for leaders to be flexible and acceptable to change because it is inevitable.[9] In order to get through change, organizations need good leaders to help them guide through these tough times. It is vital that the leader keeps the core values of the company in tact while they go through change to make sure that the company still meets the needs of it customers. Some leaders will take note of previous leaders and adopt certain things that were successful that those other leaders did when they went through change. The leader needs to keep the other employees focused during this change period. [10]

As mentioned, leaders really need to have their followers focus on change acceptance since change is inevitable. Connor (1997) says there are five steps to help followers through this.

  1. Denial – cannot foresee any major changes
  2. Anger – at others for what they're putting me through
  3. Bargaining – work out solutions, keep everyone happy
  4. Depression – is it worth it? doubt, need support
  5. Acceptance – the reality

Using these steps will help employees and followers understand what is happening and make them more apt to work through the changes instead of just giving up and not giving you their best work they are capable of. People get very comfortable with what they are used to and do not want to have to do something else that they are not comfortable with. People get in routines and like to stick with them if they are working out. There are a few attitudes that leaders can give to employees to help them accept change.

From "Why?" to "What new opportunities will this provide?" When they ask "why," focus on the benefits that the change will provide them and the organization. Do NOT feel uncomfortable if you are feeling hesitation about the change are also human. By spelling out the benefits, you will not only comfort them, but help to convince yourself too.

From "How will this affect me?" to "What problems will this solve?" Anything that prevents something from being better is a problem. Let them know what the problem is and how they will be part of the solution.

From "We do not do it this way." to "What would it look like?" Show them, provide plenty of explanations and compassion, and get your team to ask and answer questions.

From "When will this change be over so we can get back to work?" to "What can I do to help?" Get them involved in implementing the change. Help them to become part of it.

From "Who is doing this to us?" to "Who can help us?" Focus on the challenges that must be overcome. Ensure that you enlist help from other departments and colleagues. [8]

By trying to change these views of employees it will make change much easier for everyone and it might end up being for the better.

Communication and leadership as an internal process[edit]

According to Hackman and Johnson, communication is an integral part of the internal process of leaders.[1] Leaders must face many obstacles and challenging situations that can lead to personal growth. Much of the personal development that occurs for leaders is done as an internal process.

As they personally deal with issues, they make decisions that affect their lives and the lives of others. Intrapersonal communication plays an important role in the decision making process and for personal development of the leader. What this communication does inwardly eventually manifests itself in outward effects.

Personal development as an internal process[edit]

Personal development is an important aspect of leadership.[11] The need for programs specializing in personal development is widely accepted across a variety of fields from science [12] to religion.[13]

Leadership programs focus on both the outward display or leadership and the inward attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. Many of the authors of leadership books around the turn of the century began highlighting the internal process side of leadership development including Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Kevin Cashman, author of Leadership from the Inside Out. Both were widely successful best-sellers which focused on internal concepts such as "Being Proactive", Habit 1 in Covey's 7 Habits,[2] or "Personal Mastery", the first pathway in Cashman's Seven Pathways to Mastery.[3]

These books have spawned personal leadership development programs and seminars designed to help leaders become more in tune with their selves and work on their weaknesses. Recognizing weak points and improving upon them is one valuable skill for leadership development.[11]

Many leadership programs focus on changing attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs within a person.[1] Kevin Cashman argues that leadership "comes from within and is an expression of who we are."[3]

Role of intrapersonal communication[edit]

When leaders begin self-reflective analysis of themselves, they begin to engage in intrapersonal communication. Intrapersonal communication is defined as communication occurring within the individual mind or self.[14] It can be as simple as internal thoughts or more complex neurophysiological means of examining our self.[15] There is a long history of research on intrapersonal communication and its connection to internal development.[16] Individuals frequently engage in intrapersonal communication as a means of self-awareness and it is an internal process related to personal development.[17]

For leaders, there are many benefits for intrapersonal communication. Intrapersonal communication can increase self-awareness.[17] It can give the leader a better view of self. Research shows it is a means of overcoming communication apprehension, for both interpersonal and public communication.[18] These are some of the benefits for the leader who engages in intrapersonal communication as an internal process for personal development.

Innovative leadership and change[edit]

There is little peer-reviewed material on the intermingling of innovation and leadership. It is, however, very evident[according to whom?] that great innovation comes from great leaders. Steve Jobs is an example of one of the great technological innovators of our time.[according to whom?] As a new phenomenon and thought, many[who?] are seeking out how leadership effects innovation and vice versa. Many acknowledge the need for public sector support and societal support of innovation in order for funding to occur, and in turn, innovation to occur,[19] many universities are implementing innovation networks, and the necessity for unique and independent thinkers is apparent. Google says, "Our commitment to innovation depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions".[20]

Transformational leadership and innovation[edit]

Transformational leadership, a type of leadership that has an ability to change an organization,[1] would likely produce innovation. Since innovation is more than simply invention, the process of leadership can in and of itself be innovative. Innovation is a crucial part of being an effective and productive transformational leader. A transformational leader is creative, interactive, visionary, empowering, and passionate.[1] These same characteristics could be assigned to an innovator. A transformational leader produces innovative followers.[21] The subordinates self-concept function determines how the follower will react to the leader. (cite same article above) The capabilities and strengths of a leader to be a leader have a direct effect on an organization's success.[22] Oftentimes, leaders are not trained well in leadership development, leaving them unprepared to foster an environment of innovation.[22] An innovative leader is a transformational leader.[according to whom?]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hackman, M. Leadership: A communication perspective. Waveland Press Inc, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57766-579-3. 
  2. ^ a b Covey, S. (2004). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-7432-6951-3. 
  3. ^ a b c Cashman, K. (1999). Leadership from the Inside Out. Provo, UT: Executive Excellence Publishing. ISBN 978-1-890009-31-1. 
  4. ^ Stogdill, R. M. (1965). Managers, employees, organizations. Columbus: Ohio State University, Bureau of Business Research.
  5. ^ McGregor, D. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071462228
  6. ^ a b c d e Hackman, M. & Johnson, C. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
  7. ^ a b c d Hackman, M. & Johnson, C. (2009). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ (McNamara)
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Liu, J.; Siu, O.; Shi, K. (July 2010). "Transformational leadership and employee well-being: The mediating role of trust in the leader and self-efficacy". Applied Psychology: An International Review. 59 (3): 454–479. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2009.00407.x. 
  12. ^ Rao, S. (19 April 2009). "Personal professional development". AIP Conference Proceedings. 1119 (1): 7–10. 
  13. ^ Brown, E. (2007). "Personal, institutional, and communal leadership: Rethinking leadership development for the jewish community". Journal of Jewish Communal Service. 82 (3): 234–243. 
  14. ^ "Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster. 
  15. ^ Walla, P; Greiner, K.; Duregger, C.; Deecke, L.; Thurner, S. (2007). "Self-awareness and the subconscious effect of personal pronouns on word encoding: A magnetoencephalography (MEG) study". Neuropsychologia. 45: 796–809. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.08.017. PMID 17005211. 
  16. ^ Jemmer, P. (2009). "Intrapersonal communication: The hidden language". European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. 9 (1): 37–49. 
  17. ^ a b Nurius, P.; Majerus, D. (1988). "Rethinking the self in self-talk: A theoretical note and case example". Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 6: 335–345. doi:10.1521/jscp.1988.6.3-4.335. 
  18. ^ Francis, T.; Miller, M. (Jan 2008). "Communication apprehension: Levels of first-generation college students at 2-year institutions". Community College Journal of Research & Practice. 32 (1): 38–55. doi:10.1080/10668920701746688. 
  19. ^ Taylor, J.S. & Machado-Taylor, M.D.M. (2010). Leading Strategic Change in Higher Education: The Need for a Paradigm Shift toward Visionary Leadership. Frontiers in Higher Education (Claes, T. & Preston, D.S., Eds.) Editions Rodopi BV: New York, NY.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Rank, J.; Nelson, N.E.; Allen, T.D.; Xian, X. (2009). "Leadership predictors of innovation and task performance: Subordinates' self-esteem and self-presentation as moderators". Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 82: 465–489. doi:10.1348/096317908X371547. 
  22. ^ a b Boatman, J. & Wellins, R. (2011). It's Time for a Leadership Revolution. T+D Publications, American Society for Training and Development: Pittsburgh, PA.

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