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Supportive Communication and Leadership Improvement Report (Assessment)


Attributes of Supportive Communication

Communication in a business setting can affect not only interpersonal relationships of employees but also the success of a company. In conflict situations, supportive communication becomes the best approach for solving problems. According to Hackman and Johnson (2013), supportive communication improves workers’ confidence and enhances their motivation to solve problems quickly. Here are the eight main principles of supportive communication that every employee should keep in mind when a difficult situation arises. They are ranked in order of importance.

The first attribute argues that any communication should be problem-oriented, not person-oriented. This approach suggests that addressing the issue rather than an individual’s quality improves the dialogue, removing personal opinion and critique. A person, choosing to use a problem-oriented approach, does not lose focus of the situation and evaluates the event, which can lead to a problem being resolved more efficiently (Jones & Bodie, 2014).

For instance, if a manager needs to point out an employee’s behavior that lowers the productivity or spirit of other workers, saying “Some sarcastic remarks may damage worker’s morale” is better than “You are overly sarcastic.”

The second principle deals with a person choosing to be congruent, not incongruent. This point is significant because it discusses the necessity of being honest in every discussion. Openly expressing one’s feelings and thoughts in a conversation may greatly improve the situation. Sincerity can change the course of the conflict, as people do not always understand the feelings of other people correctly, For example, if one person openly states that he or she is upset with another individual’s behavior, the conflict may be resolved without additional tension (Dainton & Zelley, 2014).

The third attribute argues that one should be descriptive, not evaluative in his or her statements. While evaluative statements judge a person’s actions or words, descriptive phrases simply define the reason of the conflict. For example, if a worker makes an error in a certain process such as talking to a customer, saying “You are doing it wrong” is an evaluative statement. To be descriptive, a supervisor can describe the problem and focus on the solution, stating “The customers expect our employees to respond in this particular way and their opinion is very important to us.”

The next principle of supportive communication discusses the importance of validation of employees. According to Mayfield, Mayfield, and Sharbrough (2015), words of encouragement and respect can significantly affect one’s productivity and commitment. On the other hand, discouraging a worker by accentuating his or her negative qualities and undermining his or her experience may lead to various conflicts and lower employees’ desire to offer his or her insight. For example, situations that call for collaboration should be supported by such statements as “Your experience on this subject is essential for solving this problem” and “We should exchange our ideas.”

The fifth attribute calls for communicants to be specific in their statements. People, who use general statements and avoid addressing certain events or actions, may confuse other individuals with their words. During the conversation, it is important to mention specific points in order to come to a solution. For example, “You are forgetful” is a general statement, which does not give a communicant any information on the problem. In this situation, a person should include more details and specify the issue such as “The customers have stated that they did not receive a follow-up call after the purchase. You should consider writing down whom you need to call.”

Communication should not be disowned. The sixth attribute states that every person should take responsibility for his or her words. According to Voinea, Busu, Opran, and Vladutescu (2015) admitting the source of ideas and thoughts is important in a conversation, as it provides a clear point of view for every participant. Thus, using personal pronouns such as “I” and “mine” indicates one’s certainty in his or her statements. For example, instead of saying “Some people think that this idea should not be accepted” one should say “I believe that this idea should be turned down.”

The seventh point of supportive communication deals with the concept of conjunction. The arguments that one makes in a conversation should follow one another and be relevant to the topic. Therefore, changing the topic or making statements that do not correlate with the subject are signatures of disjointed communication. For example, in a conversation about office rules, every employee should stay on topic and not discuss rules pertaining to interacting with customers.

Finally, the last attribute highlights the importance of supportive listening. Conversations between employees should not be one-sided. Instead, all individuals should promote reflective and probing responses, which help further the discussion. For example, such phrases as “Can you tell me more about that?” and “This is my opinion. What do you think about that?” give communicants an opportunity to contribute to the process.

Plan for Improving the Position of Leadership

The positions of leadership often require from workers to possess a particular set of skills and personal qualities in order to be successful. Thus, some individuals that hold such positions and do not have these characteristics may find themselves in a difficult situation. For example, Mary, a manager at a small retail store, supervises a number of employees. While she holds a rather insignificant amount of power in comparison to other leadership positions, she still needs to establish her place in the organization and gain enough power to resolve various conflicts. Thus, one can create a plan that will assess Mary’s position and personal power and determine which actions should be taken to gain respect.

Personal Power

First of all, it is important for Mary to assess her strong and weak points in relation to personal and position bases of power. Such an assessment will help her understand, which actions should be primary to the process of change. Personal power comes from the individual’s level of expertise, personality, and actions. In order to become a leader, one must have personality traits, relevant to the position, have enough experience in the field, be committed to the job, and promote the company’s values.

In order to gain personal power, Mary has to be in line with all these characteristics. First of all, expertise is measured by one’s working experience and knowledge of the position. This experience can be gained through work, while knowledge can be obtained through various programs and courses. Thus, the first possible step to gaining expertise lies in acquiring extensive knowledge about the position, its official duties, demands, and expectations (Northouse, 2015).

Secondly, a manager should have a set of personal qualities that may help him or her to establish a firm connection with other employees. In other words, according to Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, and Gandz (2013), a leader should be charismatic. Some argue that these qualities cannot be obtained and charismatic leaders compose a small group of individuals with inherent characteristics. However, according to Watson and Reissner (2014), there are other approaches to leadership that do not rely on charisma as the primary trait of a leader. Therefore, Mary should assess her personality and decide whether she possesses these qualities or not.

Furthermore, some leaders achieve their position through perseverance and commitment. Effort is one of the main bases of personal power, as it shows a person’s dedication to the job and readiness to take on more responsibility. The main action that can help Mary in this situation is committing more time to her job. By taking the job seriously and devoting more time to managing the primary tasks of her position, Mary may not only learn more about her job but also gain respect from her subordinates as a dedicated professional (Michael, 2014).

The final determinant of personal power lies in the legitimacy of one’s actions and beliefs. A leader should act in accordance with the company’s vision and encourage workers to follow his or her example. Making oneself a model of following the company’s principles is an effective way of gaining respect from subordinates because it gives them an idea of unity and companionship (Thomas & Stephens, 2015). To follow this principle, a manager should have a clear understanding of the organization’s fundamental values and goals. Thus, it is important for Mary to research the history of the store.

As a result, the process of gaining personal power should revolve around finding more information about the job, including not only the primary duties for this particular position but also company’s core values and goals. This step can be achieved by reading about the company and completing a course in management or leadership. Moreover, a manager that wants to have more personal power should contribute more time and consideration to the job and show dedication to the company. Finally, while personality traits are rather hard to change, it is important for every manager to find or develop characteristics that can help them to connect to their subordinates.

Position Power

In contrast with personal power, position power comes from external sources that are not controlled by a person in a managing position. However, although this type of authority cannot be regulated, it can be influenced by one’s actions and behaviors. Position base of power can be defined by four determinants: centrality, flexibility, visibility, and relevance. These principles are connected to a managing position as a part of the organization’s network. Thus, the process of finding a basis for positional power requires a manager to work with other employees and company’s structures.

The first principle, centrality, discusses the person’s access to information in the company’s communication network. Centrality deals with broad networking and one’s ability to gather information from other sources in the organization. It is impossible for every employee to have access to the same amount of information. A manager should be able to have various connections in order to receive as much information as possible.

Moreover, obtaining necessary resources through networking is also important for a manager, as it may affect his or her ability to perform organizational duties. Such networking may include horizontal networking between managers of the same level and vertical networking with subordinates and higher levels of authority. In order to follow the centrality principle, Mary has to connect with the employees of different levels and learn to gather and filter information. It is important to note that these relationships do not have to be strictly formal. Informal relationships between coworkers may prove to be even more helpful.

Flexibility is the level of freedom that a person can have for making decision connected to the job. For example, a manager has more flexibility than a shop assistant in solving customer’s problems. However, having fewer rules and restrictions also means that a person has to deal with more responsibility.

A manager should take on this responsibility to establish his or her authority. One can contribute to having more flexibility by sharing new ideas with higher officials, proposing or participating in new projects and encouraging others to do the same, and expanding his or her range of duties. According to Klettner, Clarke, and Boersma (2014), these steps may help any manager to seem capable of handling challenging tasks and inspire other workers to be more active as well.

Higher flexibility leads to the next point of position power, visibility. This determinant shows how the performance of an employee is seen by influential people of the company. In order to receive a promotion, one’s performance should be noticed by individuals that make such decisions. Visibility cannot be influenced by a manager directly. However, by participating in company’s processes, any employee may showcase his or her experience and acquire visibility. It is also important to remember that a manager can employ this principle to recognize the results of his or her subordinates. Thus, a manager can gain respect and power by acknowledging other employees’ achievements.

Finally, relevance is a determinant of position power that deals with how job tasks and organizational priorities align. This principle states that being relevant to the company’s main concerns is essential for every manager. Thus, one should strive to increase his or her relevance. To accomplish this, a person can prove his or her helpfulness as a specialist. For example, as a manager, Mary should focus on the supervision of her employees and try to improve their effectiveness. She can become a mentor to other aspiring managers in order to show her abilities and attract new workers. However, relevance can be further expanded to other areas of work, which are not connected to one’s main duties directly. Expanding one’s activities is a step towards raising relevance as well.

Outcomes

The implementation of these actions will help Mary to become a better manager and allow her to gain more respect. By focusing on her personal qualities and proficiency, she can improve her understanding of the position and perfect her type of leadership. If she starts to contribute more time and effort to this position, she may find that her subordinates will follow her example. However, the motivation for establishing her power should come from external sources as well.

Creating a network of connections will help her to build recognition and respect as well as give her more information about the other employees. She should concentrate on participating in various projects and create a system that will encourage other employees do to the same. By acknowledging the success of others, she may gain even more recognition as an ambitious but mindful leader.

Benefits of Teamwork

Teamwork is popular because it has many advantages. For example, it can enhance one’s performance and improve job satisfaction (Levi, 2015). However, in order to fully understand the importance of working in teams, one should consider the roles of every employee and determine which actions each member should take to work together successfully. According to Salas, Shuffler, Thayer, Bedwell, and Lazzara (2015), researchers should consider many principles when evaluating a team in an organization, such as communication or cooperation. Following these principles will help employees to work together and bring their company to the top.

The role of a leader is also very significant to the company’s prosperity. Businesses with many locations such as Powell’s Books, a bookstore chain, can avail from a strong leader and an organized team. This paper aims to describe the main benefits of teamwork and the role of leadership in an organization.

All businesses deal with various problems on an everyday basis. Thus, when employees encounter an issue, they are expected to find a solution quickly. Using teams can greatly improve the process of problem solving (Levi, 2015). First of all, teamwork implies high levels of communication between workers, which allows them to share their ideas. All people are different. Thus, while working together, workers can use their unique experiences or perspectives to overcome a problem.

According to Ceschi, Dorofeeva, and Sartori (2014), group problem solving also affects employees because they get a chance to broaden their expertise and learn new information that they can use later. In this case, teamwork results in capable workers ready to take on complex challenges.

For example, in the retail business, many problems are connected to the customer experience. By working together, more experienced employees can show other workers the most common ways to talk to a client, while new workers can utilize their perspective to approach a younger demographic of customers. In turn, such preparedness of employees improves the overall performance of the organization and leads to higher levels of job satisfaction (Katzenbach & Smith, 2015). Individuals that work in teams feel as though they are a part of an organization. This feeling leads to them being more compliant with the company’s values and rules.

The role of leaders in a company is significant as well. Individuals in leading positions inspire other employees and provide them with a clear vision of the company’s present and future (Mazzei, 2014). These people often become an example for other workers, because their performance is equated to their position. Thus, even leaders with insignificant power such as supervisors and managers can greatly influence other employees and change their behavior in many ways (Bolman & Deal, 2017).

For example, managers can inspire their subordinates to communicate with each other by giving them group tasks and encouraging them to work together (Jeston & Nelis, 2014). Such positions as a CEO can influence the company’s progress by empowering its workers. For instance, according to Bodie, Cannava, and Vickery (2016), a CEO can highlight his or her career path as a way to inspire ambitious employees.

All in all, every company can benefit from encouraging its employees to work together as a team. Teamwork moves people to show their strongest sides and improve their weaknesses. The role of leaders is also important in these situations, as it becomes an example for other workers to follow. When people work together, they become invested in the company’s operations and can bring the organization to its success.

References

Bodie, G. D., Cannava, K. E., & Vickery, A. J. (2016). Supportive communication and the adequate paraphrase. Communication Research Reports, 33(2), 166-172.

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2017). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Ceschi, A., Dorofeeva, K., & Sartori, R. (2014). Studying teamwork and team climate by using a business simulation: How communication and innovation can improve group learning and decision-making performance. European Journal of Training and Development, 38(3), 211-230.

Crossan, M., Mazutis, D., Seijts, G., & Gandz, J. (2013). Developing leadership character in business programs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(2), 285-305.

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2014). Applying communication theory for professional life: A practical introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.

Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A communication perspective (6th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Jeston, J., & Nelis, J. (2014). Business process management (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Jones, S. M., & Bodie, G. D. (2014). Supportive communication. In C.R. Berger (Ed.), Interpersonal communication (pp. 371-394). Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter GmbH.

Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (2015). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Klettner, A., Clarke, T., & Boersma, M. (2014). The governance of corporate sustainability: Empirical insights into the development, leadership and implementation of responsible business strategy. Journal of Business Ethics, 122(1), 145-165.

Levi, D. (2015). Group dynamics for teams (5ht ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Mayfield, J., Mayfield, M., & Sharbrough III, W. C. (2015). Strategic vision and values in top leaders’ communications: Motivating language at a higher level. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(1), 97-121.

Mazzei, A. (2014). Internal communication for employee enablement: Strategies in American and Italian companies. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 19(1), 82-95.

Michael, D. F. (2014). The impact of leader-member exchange, supportive supervisor communication, affective commitment, and role ambiguity on bank employees’ turnover intentions and performance. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 5(7), 8-21.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.

Salas, E., Shuffler, M. L., Thayer, A. L., Bedwell, W. L., & Lazzara, E. H. (2015). Understanding and improving teamwork in organizations: A scientifically based practical guide. Human Resource Management, 54(4), 599-622.

Thomas, G. F., & Stephens, K. J. (2015). An introduction to strategic communication. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(1), 3-11.

Voinea, D. V., Busu, O. V., Opran, E. R., & Vladutescu, S. (2015). Embarrassments in managerial communication. Polish Journal of Management Studies, 11(2), 171-180.

Watson, G., & Reissner, S. (Eds.). (2014). Developing skills for business leadership (2nd ed.). London, UK: Kogan Page Publishers.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Supportive Communication and Leadership Improvement." August 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/supportive-communication-and-leadership-improvement/.

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