Effective Communicators and The Ripple Effect
By Matt Spaulding
This past fall I was honored to teach a business communication class at Georgia State University. Geared to business majors, the course covers the fundamental strategies and tactics of effective written and oral communication.
After 14 rigorous weeks where students were required to write a variety of business memos and letters and deliver individual and group presentations, I wanted to know how my students viewed communication from a practical business perspective. Specifically, I was interested in knowing – with the hindsight of this class – if they thought effective communication is a factor in how they view their supervisor.
My question was simple: “Does the way your supervisor communicate with you affect how you view him or her as a leader or a supervisor?”
The students could select from four possible answers: Do not agree; somewhat agree; agree; strongly agree.
Nearly 70 percent answered by saying “strongly agree.” Only a handful of students answered “somewhat agree” or “agree.” No one answered “do not agree.”
Even though this was an informal survey, and administered to students who had just completed a course on business communication, the results are still worth noting.
My theory – supported by my interpretation of these answers — is that people who employ thoughtful and effective communication are stronger leaders or supervisors – or are at least perceived as such. This results in two key advantages over those who are not good communicators:
One: Professionals with great communication skills are probably more likely to complete tasks on time and on target as desired. Why? Because their communications skills allow them to ask questions for clarity, persuade others for assistance and get more information or input. Essentially, it helps them better manage the process of understanding, executing and achieving a given task or assignment.
Two: Their ability to complete tasks on time and on target translates to competency. This competency translates to credibility. And when a person has competency and credibility, he or she immediately possesses two key ingredients essential for being a leader. So, whether that person is an actual leader or not within the organization, he or she is more readily perceived as a leader. People with leadership status have many more opportunities available to them than those that don’t. Leaders are better positioned than others for – among other things — promotions, raises and career advancement.
The Ripple Effect is a situation in which one event causes a series of other events to occur. In this case, excellent communication is the “pebble” dropped into the water. Business professionals with excellent communication skills can become more competent and credible and be seen as stronger supervisors and leaders – all of which have tangible benefits to that person and the company he or she represents.
What are your thoughts? How do you view people with effective communication skills? Have your own communication skills propelled your leadership status or career?