The act of communicating is a skill necessary for any leader, however, the art of communication can be where many leaders stumble. One element for leaders to master in the art of communication is how to effectively steward communication.
Transformational leaders have a sense of emotional intelligence (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 29) that allows them to build trust among followers through open and honest revelation of themselves (Engstrom, 1976, p. 98). As leaders steward their communication in this personal revelation to followers, a proper pace of discovery can be set enhancing the process of building trust as the leader’s transparency grows (George, 2003).
Greenfield (1991) encourages stewardship in order to establish a means of continued communication (p. 148). This establishment can happen in a variety of areas of communication such as Denning’s (2011) proposed categories leaders use to achieve goals.
For instance, in fostering collaboration, leaders communicate to encourage people to work together toward a common goal (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 28), however this setting for communication is ongoing and not exhaustive on the front end. Communicating what is vital and necessary immediately should be the extent of the initial communication, while other elements should be withheld for a variety of reasons later in the process: encouragement when the team is discouraged, clarity when a problem is encountered, or inspiration when the long duration of the project has morale low.
Another example is when leaders communicate to people about moving into the future (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 28). Moving into the future is an ongoing journey with many challenges and turns along the way. Effective change agent leaders will communicate what is most necessary at the given moment with a glimpse of the future horizon. Exhaustive communication at any level of the journey can be overwhelming, discouraging, or undesirable for followers.
Denning, S. (2011). The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative (2 edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Engstrom, T. W. (1978). The Making of a Christian Leader. Zondervan.
George, B. (2003). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value (1 edition). Jossey-Bass.
Greenfield, J. M. (1999). Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process (2 edition). New York: Wiley.
Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A Communication Perspective (6 edition). Waveland Press, Inc.