We have established that a leader must communicate to persuade and influence followers. How can a leader fail in communication? Its just an act of conveying a message, it can’t be that hard.
Oh, yes it can.
Today, the proliferation of electronic media has increased communication by thousands of folds. Emails are now considered a thing of the past, compared to whatsapp, telegram and its like. These communication modes can send voice messages, files, text and we can expect a reply soon – since everything is readily accessible through our smartphones. With all these technologies available at the leaders fingertip, how shall he/she wield this power?
A leader understands the richness of an information channel. He/she uses this knowledge to effectively influence followers. The richness of an information channel is characterized by its ability to handle multiple cues simultaneously, ability to facilitate rapid two way feedback, and the ability to establish a personal focus.
This would mean that the Face to Face communication will he richest medium, as it permits direct experience, multiple information cues, immediate feedback and personal focus. Telephone conversation are next in the richness hierarchy as eye contact, gaze, posture and body language is missing.
Next in the list is internet messaging tools such as whatsapp and telegram. It allows immediate feedback, but lacks in other direct cues.
These proliferation of electronic media has contributed to poorer communication. Employees who work in offices down the hall from one another would rather send an email rather than communicating face to face.
An effective leader knows when to use the particular channels to influence followers. He/She must decide what is the richness of information that he/she requires to convey the message and influence the followers.