Leader Communication Style Makes a Difference

There are many marks of a great leader: strength, vision, and communication abilities among them. But despite the similar attributes effective leaders may share, their communication styles can differ substantially. For instance, while some leaders primarily serve to delegate tasks and oversee the work of their teams, other leaders take a more interpersonal approach, expressing warmth and support for their employees. According to a research study (de Vries, Bakker-Pieper, & Oostenveld, 2010), leaders’ different communication styles may even predict the type of leader one will become.


The findings suggest that human-oriented leadership styles stem directly from the communication styles of the leaders. That is, communication does equal leadership for leaders with human-oriented leadership styles. There was much less congruence between communication style and leadership style for task-oriented leaders. This means that task-oriented leadership is “less communicative” than the human-oriented approach. Human-oriented leaders were primarily supportive in their interactions, maintaining warm relationships with their employees. Additionally, task-oriented leaders demonstrated more verbal aggressiveness than their peers, with a heavier focus on tasks over friendliness or support.

It is important to note that studies have linked satisfied employees with supportive leaders, meaning that a key to success for some leaders could lie in their communication styles. 


Additionally they found that human-oriented leaders engage in more knowledge sharing with their employees, which in turn fosters the creation of new knowledge. Knowledge sharing could also improve the ability of team members to communicate with one another, so human-oriented leaders could be priming their employees for group work via their everyday communications. 


While task-oriented leadership has been demonstrated to facilitate higher levels of team performance, this result is inconsistent and the lack of support and feedback shown by these leaders could merely be interpreted as aggressive and ill-mannered by their employees. The implications of these findings suggest that for some leaders, communication serves as the foundation for their actions and the subsequent experiences of their employees. As such, organizations might consider implementing communication training programs for current and future leaders in order to promote employee satisfaction and help to ensure positive experiences are gained from workplace relationships.


de Vries, R., Bakker-Pieper, A., & Oostenveld, W.(2010). Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(3), 367-380.