Practicing What You Preach: The Relationship Between Communication Style and Leadership Style

Topic: Leadership
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (SEP 2010)
Article: Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes
Authors: R.E. de Vries, A. Bakker-Pieper, and W. Oostenveld
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

There are many marks of a great leader: strength, vision, and communicative 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 subordinates.  According to a study by de Vries et al. (2010) shows, 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 = 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 subordinates.  Additionally, task-oriented leaders demonstrated more verbal aggressiveness than their peers, with a heavier focus on tasks than friendliness or support.

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

Continue reading