Rules or Situations?


Do you believe that there are effective rules of communication that leaders should follow regardless of the circumstance, or do you believe that effective communication is defined by the situation, issue or problem at hand?

Change Management
Communications Strategy
Contingency Management
Rule-based Systems
Principles of Management
Jim Ratcliff
35 months ago

9 answers


Reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring refers to an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media and current trends.

Any thoughts?

Dr. David E. M
31 months ago
Yes, learning, like communication, is a two-way street. - Jim 31 months ago
An interesting concept, I would like to add that we cannot always think of generation. We have older executives which are mentally younger than young employees and could coach them on technology, social media and current trends. - Patrick 31 months ago
Absolutely- but the concept is interesting - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

Authenticity and transparency are now the core elements of any brand, personal or business.

This is especially true when communicating with millennials and Gen Z. “Message shaping” to influence has a time span life equal to the time it takes a millennial or Gen Z’er to post on social media.

Bill Roth
35 months ago
Bill, so you believe leadership skills are essences and generations have universal characteristics? No disagreeing, just seeking to clarify and understand. - Jim 35 months ago
Leadership largely internal - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Management largely external - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

It’s a great question. While I feel much about communications is situational and it is vital to grasp the context and impacts, there are certain overarching “rules of the road”, as you said. Leaders must demonstrate they consider communication one of their values and develop skills to be effective communicators.
First, leaders must be visible in their organization since leaders set the course, drive the culture, and help employee understand where they are going. With many options on ways to communicate, fInd what venues or methods of communication are comfortable. Informal, interpersonal and small group communication is more important to the culture.
Second, leaders must be open, honest and transparent, and communicate bad news with employees at the same time or earlier than the news going public, if possible. Financial disclosure regs can make that challenging so planning becomes crucial. Employees shouldn’t hear or read what’s happening at their company in the news, or on Twitter.
Third, change is a constant and more transformational these days, whether there are internal or external forces. Generally, people find change difficult even when they understand it. Leaders must own and actively sponsor whatever change is occurring, and personally address resistance as part of their roles.
Fourth, leaders must be involved in communication during times of crisis, although timing should be selective and strategic. Crisis communications must be rapid, and leaders must be directly involved. I’ve been fortunate to work with some exceptional leaders during challenging times.
There’s so much more to discuss here. One of the leadership gurus once said, “the art of communication is the language of leadership.” Leaders who communicate in an authentic way will build trust, promote greater commitment, and achieve better results. It must be understood that communication is a learned skill, a process, an exchange, and an outcome. It is not a “check off the box” activity.
i took a course in reputation management, and a significant amount of time was devoted to the role of leaders. So there are likely many more rules for leaders. To conclude, and be simple, I would say, rules should include — be intentional, set time aside to communicate what’s important to those who matter, and listen. Finally, be clear, concise, complete, candid, compelling, and consistent. Use stories about real people, real situations.
Hope this helps!

Michael Wood
35 months ago
Good points to raise, Michael. Given Ellen's comment below, what would you say worked or didn't work in the course on reputation management? What was the approach to leadership communication that was taken in the workshop? And how did it prove to be worthwhile (or not) for you? Thanks! - Jim 35 months ago
Management by metrics. - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Leadership by consensus - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

Leaders need to be credible to their employees. That means they need to understand what is going on in their workplace and be able to relate to it & the employees.

I once sat through a presentation where the head of a manufacturing company give a speech to the hourly paid factory workers where he related all of his material to his vacation walking on the great wall of China.

It wasn't going to matter how well he knew his subject matter, how eloquently he spoke or whether in person communication was the right channel, no one was going to hear him. He alienated his audience by not understanding their work, their lives and their values

Ellen Raim
35 months ago
Good example, Ellen. A university provost was reported to ask a graduating student how her educational experience had been at the university. She replied, "Professor, there is a whole lot more teaching than learning going on here." Unfortunately, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because I told them, there must have been understanding and agreement to what I said. - Jim 35 months ago
I like the concept of "reverse mentorship" - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Agreed - RUPAK 31 months ago
Many thanks - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
true - Er. P.Das 31 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

Jim, I believe as has been my experience that the latter point is more true than the first in business, but that while in government I encountered more of the first point. Problem solving starts, in my thought process, with as deep an understanding of the situation that is present, and that experience and effective decision making processes lead to conversational responses and use of appropriate communication mediums to convey messages, urgency, and why a certain response is indicated.

Leadership always must exert the effort to understand a situation, and have set of processes, not necessarily one, to generate the appropriate decision-making and response. The exception is government decision making processes where leadership is not the driving force, but getting to the most appropriate responses to a situation highly valued. Leadership might deliver the message, but not necessarily taken the lead in the thought leadership area.

Sandy Waters
35 months ago
Sandy, I see your point and agree wholeheartedly. In the USA, I see somewhat of a Small-Large divide on the question. Large companies tend to have formal decision making guidance (i.e., policies) in place which provides great discipline, while small companies have fewer policies and can be innovative at the rise of re-inventing wheels. - Jim 35 months ago
Of course - the big ship theory - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

Rules should be made for all different relevant scenarios. This as the first reactions are mostly important. Due to missing experience people may not act correctly. As it is not possible to create rules or all situations, companies must foster value and critical thinking, so that if not guidelines apply, they nevertheless have some guidance.

Patrick Henz
31 months ago
Just the beginning - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Don't rules suggest communication follow a pattern regardless of situation? Looking at your comment below, are rules of communication made to be broken? Is not communication based on values and critical thinking discretionary to the individual while communication based on rules is not discretionary to the individual? - Jim 31 months ago
Most communication is EMOTIONAL! - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Communication has different levels, there is a task to transport information, but this practical part is always accompanied by emotions. - Patrick 31 months ago
Agree - the basics - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

A lot has been said above. The one thing to add is that as a rule, understand who stands before you and adjust your communication approach to what you think is the most effective in that situation for that specific individual.

Bart Groenewoud
31 months ago
Exactly - target your audience - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Be at the audience level - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Thank you - Bart 31 months ago
yes agreed. - Er. P.Das 31 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

1. Communicate early and often.
2. Tell them everything or tell them nothing.
3. Empathise before you communicate.
4. Deliver on commitments that you communicate or do not make those commitments.
5. Use informal and formal channels.

6. Celebrate wins and tell success stories.

7. Share confidential information regularly.
8. When possible, speak, don’t email.
9. Plan and prepare for delivering tricky news.
10. Tell the right people the right things.

31 months ago
Fully agreed. - Er. P.Das 31 months ago
De rigour but thanks - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Are we to infer that you believe that communication should be governed by these rules? - Jim 31 months ago
Among other things - OK - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
prn = as needed = pro re nata - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

1.   Place yourself on even ground.
2.   Listen to the other party.
3.   Speak in a calm, level voice.
4.   Let them know you have heard their point and understand their side.
5.   Don't try to finish the argument at all costs.
6.   Don't try to get the last word in.

Er. P.Das C
31 months ago
OK - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
It is a good list, nevertheless, leadership requires soft-skills, which go beyond the following of rules. - Patrick 31 months ago
Of course - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Good judgement - RUPAK 31 months ago
Agree - Dr. David E. 31 months ago
Thank you Mr. Rupak - Er. P.Das 31 months ago
Thank You Dr. - Er. P.Das 31 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 31 months ago

Have some input?