Sunday, November 11, 2018

Leadership, Power, and Effective Communication

       Leadership is something everyone should inspire to have and possess. We all have our areas where we excel and where we can be looked at as a leader. Some are leaders in the music industry, some are leaders in athletics, some are leaders in medicine, and there are many other areas of expertise and influential moments where individuals are looked upon to be a leader. According to the TED Talk video by Drew Dudley, he talks about his "lollipop" moment. That was a time in his life where he made a difference in someone's life and was looked upon as a leader. We should all strive to be leaders and lead in a purposeful, meaningful, moral, and ethical manner.
       As leaders in the strategic communication profession, we should all strive to lead in a purposeful, meaningful, moral, and ethical manner. Leaders in communication can be very influential individuals and should strive to provide a positive impact on others. According to the writing of Sanjay K. Pandey and James L. Garnet from Rutgers University "Exploring Public Sector Communication Performance: Testing a Model and Drawing Implications," they stress the importance of communication. For a long time, it has been considered and believed within administrative and organization theory that sound communication promotes sound performance. In the work by Chester Barnard "Functions of the Executive," he discusses the thought that the "first executive function should be to develop and maintain a system communication." According to Barnard, communication is not simply an executive function. Communication is the first primary function. In a work by Simon, Smithburg, and Thompson, the notification and importance of the crucial nature of communication to government performance is signified. "Blockages in the communication system constitute one of the most serious problems in public administration." Through these readings, strategic communication professionals should realize the importance of communication within an organization. The lack of communication in government and other organizations can be detrimental and disastrous. There have been many recent and historical governmental failures that were caused by a lack of communication.
     For example, in the blog "Communication Failures in the Foreign Service" it outlines the case of Ambassador Scott Gration. Recently, this Ambassador resigned his post in Nairobi. The State Inspector General released its assessment of Gration's Kenyan performance. Time and time again, the IG emphasized Gration's failings in a very diplomatic manner. The IG referred to Gration's leadership style as "divisive and ineffective." Also, he mentioned that Gration had lost the confidence and respect of the staff to lead the mission. And, his greatest weakness was his hesitancy to take on well - defined U.S. Government decisions. According to press reports, these reports branded Gration as "the worst ambassador in the State Department." Gration was an ally of President Obama and a favorite of the higher officials at the National Security Council. Gration wound up belittled and ridiculed for various reasons. The key reason for his belittlement and ridicule was improper communication. Gration lied to Washington, insulted his staff, and he denied any meetings with significant Kenyan officials. Gration grew up on the continent and speaks Swahili fluently, however, he still was not able to communicate appropriately. This shows that just because someone is fluent in the local language does not necessarily make him or her a good communicator. This Ambassador never understood or tried to understand the culture of the State Department. He was unsuccessful in completing one of the nation's most important outreach and communication efforts as the Sudan envoy. This Ambassador completely failed and refused to speak with Congress. This was a major mistake by Gration. This behavior exemplifies the importance of being able to communicate effectively within an organization. Improper communication causes a decline in government and in any organization.

       Furthermore, leadership and effective, reliable, and accurate communication within government and organizations is of the utmost importance. Leadership and communication should both be used in an effective manner. In the article, "Perceptions of Power" by Leanne Glenny, she references the ideology that public and scholarly discussions of communication are oftentimes overpowered by notions of publicity and turn in which the government is generally viewed as holding control over the target of it's communication effort. This effort she is referring to is the general public. This view contains problems for two reasons. One, it categorizes people and organizations involved into two basic opposing parties. These two parties are the government and the public. The second is the simple idea of power in relation to resources used to convey a certain message into a less powerful and resourceful manner. By this method, government communication can be viewed as something that the government does to the public using models of information dissemination in which the government's resources to communicate far override those of the public. Governmental power should be regulated as well as the public. In any hierarchal organization, a system of checks and balances should be formed to prevent the use improper use of power. When an organization or individual is given too much power, oftentimes there is the temptation to abuse that power.
       In addition to providing leadership that is purposeful, meaningful, moral, and ethical in manner, providing effective and efficient communication, and regulating the use of power within organizations, effective internal communications is of the utmost importance as well. Internal communications is simply communication within an organization, and it involves both official and unofficial communications. By official communication, communication professionals refer to memos, guidelines, policies and procedures, and more. By unofficial, communication professionals refer to the exchange of ideas and opinions, the development of personal relationships, and the traditional communications around the coffee pot. This communication spans in all areas as to those who do the specific work of the organization and those who work directly with the population. For example, administrators, supervisors, clerical, and support staff, volunteers, and maybe even the Board of Directors encompass this group. Internal communication is more than just people engaging in active communication, it can be the blood pumping through the organization by everyone receiving the information that is needed. This allows everyone to get questions answered, and no one is left out from information flow such as company info or even birthday or wedding celebrations of staff members. Productive and effective communication provides people with information that is needed to perform a task successfully, and enables individuals to stay aware of any issues that concern them. Also, it provides people with a clear understanding of standards and expectations of work related tasks. Feedback on work performance, emotional support for difficult work, and new ideas about work and life related issues, are other examples of effective internal communication. Also, good internal communication can allow company staff to know the heartbeat and understand the organization's overall current situation. Also, it provides a way of maintaining a common perception and sense of ownership of the organization.
       By providing leadership that is purposeful, meaningful, moral, and ethical in manner, establishing effective and efficient communication, regulating the use of power within organizations, and using constructive and productive internal communications within organizations, organizations can progress further in a healthy and successful manner. Through the use of these traits, organizations can maintain and increase productivity and provide a healthy, happy work environment.

Fitzgerald, Bill. "Comunication Failures in the Foreign Service." Twitter, 13 August 2012,

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