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Critical Corporate Communication: What Is Not Being Communicated Can Kill Your Business, Your Reputation, or Your People

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. “
-George Bernard Shaw


What is not being communicated can kill your business, your reputation, or your people. An exaggeration? Let’s examine some of the major calamities from the distant and the recent past.  Most of them, if not all, have one common denominator: the absence of a climate of open multidirectional communication.


It is April 15, 1912. A marvelous-designed and once-thought-to-be “unsinkable” vessel strikes an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing 1,502 people. Go back a few years before this tragedy and you will find another “iceberg” that struck the vessel. During a corporate meeting, engineers were attempting to communicate a number of mechanical flaws and the unsatisfactory safety capacity to senior-level management. 


Did they listen? You guessed it. Management didn’t and, eventually, the engineers gave up. One of the authorities stated that during the meeting, “the first-class cabin carpet color was discussed for hours and the lifeboat capacity was given just 15 minutes.”1 The name of the ship? Again, you guessed it, the Titanic. 


Paradoxically, while history normally refers to the physical iceberg in the North Atlantic as what caused the Titanic to sink, the “iceberg” of corporate communication restrictions also contributed to the catastrophe. 


An isolated case? Not even by a stretch of the imagination.


Let’s review both the Space Shuttle Columbia accident of February 2003 and the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Besides the physical causes of these fatal accidents, the investigations revealed communication breakdowns in both instances. Let’s briefly examine the Space Shuttle accident. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report stated that, “…organizational barriers [in NASA]… prevented effective communication of critical safety information and stifled professional differences of opinion…”2   


Similarly, after the BP Oil Spill, the White House Oil Spill Commission said that, “bad management and a communications breakdown by BP and its Macondo well partners caused the oil disaster…”3


The list of calamities goes on. Senior managers and executives who did not listen to employees attempting to alert leaders about flaws in a strategy; medical doctors who didn’t pay attention to nurses’ observations, as they were trying to save patients; CEOs and senior executives enamored with their own idea of a new product which failed, despite the marketing team’s attempts in communicating the risk associated with their concept and…well…you get the point.


How humble, sagacious, or wise do managers, senior executives, and professionals in general have to be in order to listen to people with information that can save their organization, save their reputation, and save lives? How many more industrial disasters, oil spills, financial crises, medical errors, space shuttle accidents, and other catastrophes have to take place for leaders to take their people’s input earnestly? 


Courageous and focused leaders know that it is best to leave their egos behind and listen to their people, even to the unorthodox or nonconformist employees, since many ideas which can improve the organization, can come from such individuals. The very best managers, in fact, want to hear the bad news. What’s the use of a manager, anyway, if he/she cannot or will not tackle issues? The best leaders want to know what’s wrong, not only what’s right, so they can support and empower subordinates.


Again, what is not being communicated can kill your business, your reputation, or your people. The flow of information is like breathing. Open the lines of multidirectional communication, and the organization will live. Close those lines of multidirectional communication, and you will suffocate the organization. So please don’t let the postmortem read, “Traumatic corporate communication asphyxia caused by management’s restraint of communication flow.” 


The “I-know-best” attitude doesn’t work. That is true today more than ever. Modern businesses, organizational dynamics, changes, and conditions are extremely complex. Managers and senior executives cannot be everywhere at the same time, and getting input from other staff members and supervisors means multiple eyes and multiple brains aiming at the same goal: to solve problems. 


These leaders are brave enough to make clear that no one will be chastised for speaking the truth. They ask staff members and subordinate leaders the hard questions.  Here are some of them:


  • What am I missing?  
  • What can I do better?  
  • How can I support you?
  • What risks am I ignoring?
  • Can you give me a real sanity check?
  • What are the weaknesses of my strategy?  
  • Are we getting input from the key experts?
  • What have your people heard from customers?
  • What can we learn from the last project?
  • Do you find our vision directional, inspirational, and memorable? What do your people say? How do you know?
  • Did I identify the right assumptions supporting my strategy? 
  • What have we learned from past mistakes that we are not applying now?
  • Who are the stakeholders who may be affected by this decision? What do they say?  What systems do we have in place to capture their opinions? Who is replying to them? How frequently?


To get the full benefit of the answers to the questions above, make it safe to approach you. Don’t shoot the messenger or the employee trying to make a recommendation or attempting to report a grave matter. 


When leaders cannot or will not listen, employees give up and rumors spread: “Don’t even try to go to the boss with that problem!” “Why are you going to report it? Do not even bother – he will not handle it!” or “The last time I offered an idea to increase sales, the boss told me it was just impractical.” 


Results? Employees will see problems, but will not report them. They will have ideas, but will not offer them. In addition, you can kiss trust goodbye. Game over! Who loses? You and the organization!


Open communication should apply to all, to include those with different, untraditional, and even unpleasant points of view and ideas.  It is easy for leaders to limit their communication to an inner circle of agreeable and, somewhat, ego-booster subordinate leaders. 


Have you noticed how these circles can be characterized by much disingenuousness and craftiness? Even worse, when leaders only listen to those who agree with them, they don’t get the whole picture of what is really happening and what is likely to happen – just an ambivalent notion. The results? Calamities!


I can hear comments, “But that’s hard; it takes courage.” My reply: Of course. What can you expect? When managers and senior executives accepted their roles and titles, they committed themselves to make the tough calls in pursuit of continuous improvements. Sometimes that requires the necessary courage or intestinal fortitude to put egos aside and do the hard right, not the easy wrong.


So insist on candor and openness; otherwise, the communication will not be effective and, consequently, you will not get the benefits associated with a candid and multidirectional flow of ideas and information.  


Did I say, “benefits”? You bet. What benefits? Plenty! Here are some of them: 


Making interdisciplinary connections, comparing perspectives, clarifying conclusions, defining problems, exploring arguments, finding major safety or security issues, evaluating actions and policies, exploring consequences and implications, appraising assumptions, identifying apocryphal stories that others have believed for months or even years, making predictions, and finding grave information that can prevent disasters – just to mention a few. 


Given the complexities of modern organizations and their conditions, we all can benefit from each other’s input and observations. There is no quintessential thinker. By nature, we are egocentric thinkers. Resist that temptation. People don’t naturally value the input or opinion of others. Furthermore, we do not understand the restrictions, flaws, and shortcomings of our own reasoning or opinions. Critical thinking authorities, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, have brilliantly addressed this conundrum. They say, “We do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the source of our egocentric concepts and ideas, the implications of our egocentric thought. We do not naturally recognize our self-serving perspective.”4


“When all think alike, then no one is thinking. “ -Walter Lippmann


The “I-know-best” approach doesn’t work. Modern business and operations are not only complex, but super complex. With gazillion pieces moving simultaneously at various levels, and across various time zones, how could possibly managers see and control all operations, procedures, and projects? While senior leaders can’t, supervisors at various locations are able to provide oversight. Besides, senior leaders may see operations, but from an airplane, whereas supervisors see them on the ground. 


Let them be your eyes and ears and let them come to you with information, however distasteful. Be open to new ideas and information. Seek different points of view. Reward those who frankly communicate and find flaws in your strategies, points of view, and choices, not the yes men/women. The former will save your organization, the latter will only save your ego, but only for a short time.


Let’s face it. Most issues in our organizations are the result of poor decisions and poor decisions are the result of poor communication. Open the lines of communication in all directions. Keep them open and ask good questions. Remember: “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions.”5


No management task is complete without effective communication, and effective communication means open multidirectional communication. 


Here are other questions to mull over:


    • Have you assigned a sounding board? Who is that trustworthy and seasoned professional who can and will verify the validity of your ideas?


    • Do you talk about creativity, but at the same time ignore or even chastise employees who have different ideas? Innovation is directly proportional to the work atmosphere. If people feel accepted and free to express what they are thinking, you will get ideas and solutions. 


    • Do you tolerate failure? Nowadays it is best to establish an environment where people can learn, instead of feeling they are walking on eggshells.


    • Do you reward those who speak out or berate them because they are “not getting with the program” or because they are not a good “cultural fit”?


    • How does communication flow in your company — from the top down? Both ways? Is it really omnidirectional? 


    • When was the last time that someone pointed out flaws in your strategy or project?  


    • When was the last time that one of your employees had the intestinal fortitude to stop you from making an injudicious decision?


Reflect upon your answers. Determine if you need to focus more on an open multidirectional communication climate. Above all, be brutally honest with yourself. Can you?



 1. Rob Bogosian and Christine Casper, “The Leading Cause of Corporate Calamity Is Leaders Who Don’t Listen,” Entrepreneur, May 19, 2015, (accessed: April 25, 2021).

2. Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report, Volume I, August 2003, Executive Summary, (accessed: April 25, 2021).

3. The Guardian, “BP Oil Spill Blamed on Management and Communication Failures,” (accessed: May 16, 2021).

4. Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, (Foundation for Critical Thinking, Seventh Edition, 2016), 21.

5.  Naguib Mahfouz, 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature.



Author Biography

Jose Marrero is the Director of Special Projects and also teaches Applied Leadership and Communication in the Economic Development Department, Columbus Technical College. The seminars that he designs, develops, and delivers focus on achieving long-term results in the workplace. His four-decade professional career, three of which spent serving in the US Army, includes assignments such as: Teaching at the United States Military Academy, West Point; Commander on multiple occasions; Strategist at the Strategy, Policy, and War Plans Division in the Pentagon; Operations Officer at various levels; Chief of Staff; Military Advisor to a US Ambassador; and Senior Analyst at the White House ONDCP, Washington, DC – among other regular and special assignments. Above all, Jose has proudly led Soldiers to perform meritoriously under uniquely difficult and challenging conditions. He is a member of the International Foreign Language Honor Society (Phi Sigma Iota) and earned a Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University.  

Jose Marrero Articles

What’s Wrong With Authentic Leadership?

Authentic leadership is a concept both highly revolutionary and extremely practical.  It values personal virtue above selfish interests and emphasizes the importance of a leader’s words matching their actions.  So why are there so many critics of a leadership style that has as its very foundation a focus on morality?  Bill George, a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and author of Authentic Leadership:  Rediscovering the Secrets of Lasting Value and True North:  Discover Your Authentic Leadership, introduced authentic leadership in 2003 in the wake of such corporate scandals as Enron, WorldComm, Tyco, and Freddie Mac.  George offered the antidote to morally-challenged corporate leaders, authentic leadership. 


As it happens with innovative concepts that provide answers to complex moral questions, critics of this theory soon emerged objecting almost entirely based on the word “authentic.”  After all, what does it really mean to be “authentic?”  Following an exhaustive dictionary and thesaurus evaluation, the following represent the most common synonyms:  genuine, real, true veritable, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, faithful.  So again, I ask, why the issue with George’s use of the word “authentic” in describing leadership?  Answer: key critics of authentic leadership tend to conflate the word “authentic” with the impulse individuals possess to say or do everything on their minds. 


However, demonstrating sound judgment in knowing when to say or not say what’s on your mind isn’t inauthentic, it’s wise.  But what are the keys to seeking an authentic leadership style?  Though not a comprehensive list of authentic leadership qualities, the following represent tangible methods any aspiring authentic leader can employ.



Self-regulation is one of the foremost keys to developing this leadership style.  Embracing one’s unique personality and experiences is as authentic as demonstrating self-control when dealing with personal relationships.  Ultimately, both qualities begin with effective self-evaluation.


Self-evaluation is extremely difficult but mastering such a discipline is a key component to authentic leadership.  The process of self-evaluation benefits both the individual personally and the organization as a whole.

 Inner Circle

Self-evaluation alone does not a good leader make.  Leaders need people, good people, people upon whom they can rely for advice and various levels of support.  The best authentic-leaders create an inner circle comprising of individuals with skills that fill gaps in their leadership styles and challenge them to strive for a better sense of purpose.

Personal Values and Ethics

Possessing a genuine sense of personal values and principles will help the authentic leader better guide both the process of self-evaluation, but also interaction with other individuals within the organization.  They provide the moral compass with which to follow when no one else is looking and the framework through which all decisions are made.


 Authentic leadership is NOT a filterless representation of what you really think.  That’s called stupidity.  On the contrary, this style of leadership requires character, hard work, reflection, and a lot of self-control.   Employed correctly, authentic leadership provides a moral basis for adapting one’s leadership style to any challenge, and a rich environment in which other aspiring leaders can grow.

Kyle Kramer Articles

Emotional Intelligence to Lead and Win

 “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.” 


–Coach Paul William “Bear” Bryant


 Thought-provoking words!  This is not about football; it is about leadership!


Coach Bryant’s memorable words transcend all football stadiums. We can recognize much emotional intelligence in his wisdom.  Real leadership cannot be possible without the attribute of emotional intelligence, which enables us to empathize with others, be aware of our own emotions and reactions, and build relationships.


Let’s face it, leaders depend on those they lead: their people.  Leaders can have the sharpest intellect, the brightest ideas, and even the strongest voice. Yet, all of this is useless if they don’t connect with their team. People will be interested in what is in the leader’s heart first, then what is in his/her mind.  Big C for competence is relevant; nonetheless, Big C for Caring is indispensable! Then and only then, people will begin to trust and follow him/her.  


The point is, sometimes we are too busy with the “instruments” or the “tools” and forget about the operators.  Strategies, visions, and bright shining ideas, which can only be closely examined while wearing sun glasses, are useless without the operators (the people on the team). 


But wait a second.  Modern organizations should know everything about leadership.  After all, we have a five millennia-worth of leadership experience — books, audio cassettes, courses, and highly-paid speakers. Yet, the irony is that many organizations often neglect the most basic ingredients to lead and win.  Real leadership includes a sacred responsibility to the welfare of the team.  So the optimum strategy to attain top results has been, is, and will be the optimum strategy to lead and guide the team. Makes sense?


Just like Coach Bryant, leaders put others before themselves. They are also sincerely humble. Yes, you read correctly!  Genuine leadership requires an element of humility.  A richness of arrogance, egocentrism, and vanity blinds leaders.  Real leaders do not fear being outshined by employees with superb abilities. Instead they wisely maximize their people’s abilities and develop their potential. Leaders also recognize their own shortcomings, and are open and candid about them which also contribute to build trust and strong teams.  When leaders admit that they are not supermen or superwomen, their people respect them far more.


The ideal environment at work is a supportive environment that builds trusting relationships.  Build relationships first; then, you will effectively lead them.  Trust is the glue that brings the people together. Build trust to build teamwork!  Downplay or ignore trust…kiss teamwork goodbye!


Conversely, without exercising emotional intelligence and caring for employees, a leader may not be genuine but, a “toxic boss.” Some of the traits of toxic bosses include: lack of respect for employees, not taking the blame and not sharing the credit, poor listening, narcissism, taking full credit while ignoring his employees’ efforts, craving for power, and more. 


Unlike toxic bosses, leaders who exercise emotional intelligence generate a positive climate and, hence, are more likely to get better results.  Leaders take ownership of their organization.  As a result, when something goes wrong in the organization they lead, they do not hesitate to say, “My bad…”   


Finally, let’s compare Coach Bryant’s memorable words to what a toxic boss would say.  How would that sound?  Perhaps it would go like this:


If anything goes bad, they did it.  If anything goes semi-good, you did the bad segment and I did the good one.  If anything goes really good, I and only I did it. (That’s all it takes to throw people under the bus, to win an argument, and shine while eclipsing others).

José Marrero Articles

How Management Consultants Can Help CEOs Implement Organizational Change?

Strategy is as a pattern of decisions and plans, which are directed at interacting with the external and internal environment and effectively and efficiently allocating capabilities to achieve organizational objectives and increase profitability. So, organizational strategies are formed to efficiently deploy capabilities and interact with environments– both internal and external. Many companies have plans going well into the future. Long term goals spanning five to fifteen years. While short-term goals are more tactical and are just as important. Competitive advantage is sought by many companies, for instance, Grant, concentrates on knowledge creation and application, and argues that firms are entities that must create and apply knowledge in order to enhance competitive advantage. An example of this is when Jamie Diamond left Citigroup to head up J.P. Morgan in the 2013, he was paid 20 million dollars to not take any people with him to J. P. Morgan for three years. Thus, knowledge creation and application manifest themselves in people, organizations, systems, and processes and should be guarded like gold in the Federal Reserve Bank.


Consultants can see organizational strategy as a sum of objectives, plans, and procedures designed to efficiently and effectively upgrade organizational capabilities and interact with their environment more effectively. In particular, strategy defines a pattern to deploy organizational capabilities and interact with both the internal and the external environment. Consultants can help CEOs manage their knowledge assets to create new ideas and knowledge aimed at achieving organizational objectives. First and foremost, just as one organization is holding knowledge back from competitors they are following suit. Knowledge could be the most important component of success in this ever changing technological environment of today. Thus, organizational strategy is an internal resource affecting knowledge and in most cases, knowledge is the most strategic factor of competitive advantage.


Consultants can help CEOs find the best analysis strategy using a problematic search of various options. Analysis strategy stimulates organizations to apply information systems in their decision-making processes to investigate various alternatives and options.  This strategy can promote the knowledge utilization by providing a series of clear guidelines for companies to track future trends in the business environment, and accordingly conduct “what-if” analysis and allocate organizational resources. Herein, consultants can analyze strategic milestones to meet the goals of the employee intellectual stimulation and personal development. Analysis strategy is highly related to firms’ capacity to generate new ideas and knowledge, and can potentially provide new and more innovative solutions for organizational problems as they arise.


In addition, consultants can help CEOs develop an effective strategy to implement a series of basic research aimed at developing a more comprehensive vision for the future by incorporating upcoming trends in the business environment. CEOs can expand the growth opportunities available to organizations that may be challenging but important to close the gap between success and failure. Consultants can provide consulting services to develop relationships and interactions in order to provide valuable resources for the company as a whole. Furthermore, consultants can help CEOs take an effective offensive approach at times and in this case they should employ a defensive strategy. Some CEOs feel that a defensive strategy, while necessary, sets a negative connotation on their span of control. However, a defensive strategy utilizes modifications in order to efficiently use available resources, decrease costs, and control operational risk. CEOs must also take a proactive approach to search for better positions in the business environment. In this case, consultants can help CEOs build communities of practice within companies, thereby inspiring employees to find better opportunities and solutions to problems. Furthermore, consultants can help CEOs set highly desired expectations and provide a suitable situation for employees to identify new opportunities. The tendency to search for workplace issues and their root causes can potentially generate better alternatives to solve them. 


Consultants can also help CEOs reshape organizational structure to be more effective when the command center of organizations can disseminate information in a decentralized and organic way as opposed to the mechanical and centralized command center. Decentralized structures shift the power of decision-making to the lower levels and subsequently inspire employees to create new ideas and even implement them while centralized structures may negatively impact interdepartmental communications and inhibit knowledge exchange. Recent research in this area  affirms that the there is a negative impact of centralization on various knowledge management processes such as knowledge acquiring, creating, and sharing among both managers and departmental units. Ergo, consultants play a critical role in building more effective structures within organizations. 


In addition, consultants can provide consulting services to drive an effective culture to inspire employees to create new ideas and acquire knowledge from various sources such as customers. This step can be essential to identify the needs of customers and also recognize the emerging changes in the business environment. Consultants can, therefore, create the most appropriate workplaces to facilitate innovation and to motivate employees to solve their current problems in a more innovative manner. CEOs steering the organizational culture facilitate innovation, by undertaking initiatives that improve knowledge transfer, thus enhancing the performance of employees and the implementation of effective changes to maintain the quality of products and services. This can also exploit organizational performance, though improving the quality of products and services, and the organizational revenue. Furthermore, consultants can help CEOs develop a learning culture in which people continuously grow and develop both personally and professionally. This is similar to a value-chain approach. Consultants also need to first support this approach because they play a strategic role in building effective learning organizations through applying incentives as mechanisms to develop a more innovative climate and managing effective tools to acquire knowledge from external sources. 

Author Biography

Mostafa Sayyadi, CAHRI, AFAIM, CPMgr, works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies, and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to and Consulting Magazine and his work has been featured in these top-flight business publications.  

Mostafa Sayyadi, CAHRI, AFAIM, CPMgr Articles

Organizational Turnaround Through Transformational Leadership

More than a century of research indicates that there is almost an endless list of leadership definitions without unanimity, including over 90 variables for consideration (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019; Winston & Patterson, 2006; Yukl, 2013).  Over time, most researchers have come to a consensus that leadership is a complex process of influence toward a collective task (Hickman, 2015; Northouse, 2019; Yukl, 2013).  In the same manner, there seems to be just as many leadership theories that have evolved over time.  But, which leadership theory is the most effective for organizational transformation?  What is the role of the leader and follower within the leadership theories that are beneficial or detrimental? Researchers from all over of the world have been trying to aggressively answer these questions in a plethora of studies for many years. 


Through research findings, the theory of transformational leadership has become the rage in recent times.  Setting challenging expectations, transformational leaders motivate followers through an exceptional form of influence to do more than originally intended or thought possible (Bass, 2008, Northouse, 2019).  Much attention is given to the needs and motives of followers while the leaders strive to assist followers in reaching their fullest potential (Northouse, 2019).  In the end, the leader and follower may transform from within having stronger moral values (Northouse, 2019).  For example, Gandhi did transform millions of people while raising their hopes and demands, and at the same time, was changed himself.  In addition, a series of studies reflected four factors of transformational leadership including idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Christie, Barling, & Turner, 2011).  With a strong sense of moral values, transformational leaders use the four factors to create organizational turnaround.  


Four Factors of Transformational Leadership

1.         Idealized influence

2.         Inspirational motivation

3.         Intellectual stimulation

4.         Individualized consideration


Idealized Influence 

An emotional component of leadership known as charisma is a factor among transformational leaders.  Transformational leaders lead by example through actions such as exhibiting bravery by taking risks and making difficult decisions.  There is a great deal of trust from the followers, and the leaders are very respected (Northouse, 2019).  Charismatic is a word often used to describe a transformational leader and one of the reasons why followers are inclined to support the vision and mission set forth (Bass, 2008).  Have you ever experienced a charismatic leader who had high moral standards and led others through a positive change effort?  To be part of such a change can be invigorating and spark the passion to achieve at a high degree of success.       


Inspirational Motivation

Challenging individuals in a risk-free environment, while clearly communicating the expectations to generate commitment toward a shared vision is the role of inspirational motivation (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019).  Implementing the concept of a true team is enhanced within the theory of transformational leadership.  Followers are influenced to achieve more than they could ever think possible as part of a team instead of in their own self-interest (Northouse, 2019).  A leader who creates such a risk-free environment and promotes the team concept adds a bit of healthy competition to the organization is positively effecting change within an organization.    


Intellectual Stimulation

Leaders who encourage followers to be innovative and challenge the beliefs and values of the followers and self, provide intellectual stimulation and empowerment (Northouse, 2019).  The leader enables followers to question organizational assumptions and discover ways to problem solve individually and within teams.  Support is given to the followers as they try new approaches and develop ways to solve organizational issues.  Careful problem solving is promoted through intellectual stimulation within a risk-free environment (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019).  An example of this type of leadership is a school principal who promotes teacher efforts to develop unique ways to solve barriers for students, so the students may reach a level of proficiency in core subjects such as reading or math.


Individualized Consideration 

A leader who finds personalized ways to engage with followers exhibits individualized consideration.  Listening to the individuals needs and acting as a coach for the purpose of assisting followers to reach their fullest potentials are traits of a transformational leader (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019).  Through a supportive environment, new learning opportunities are created, two-way communication is encouraged, and tasks are delegated (Bass, 2008).  Recognizing qualities in others despite cultural differences builds trust and empowers followers to achieve and the basis of individualized consideration a transformation leader implements with fidelity (Bass, 2008; Greenleaf, Spears, Covey, & Senge, 2002).           


Relevance to Organizational Improvement

As a school district executive administrator in one of the largest districts in the nation with approximately 96,000 students, strategically placing transformational leaders within the organizational structure has proven effective.  There is a direct correlation between the school principal and student achievement, and this correlation is significant when implementing themes or theories of leadership (Crum, Sherman, & Myran, 2010; Shaw & Newton, 2014).  Moreover, significant relationships exist between school leadership and learning, as well as specific principal behaviors producing a direct relationship with teacher’s career decisions (Boyd et al., 2011; Nettles & Herrington, 2007).  Knowing the research of the impact of a school principal within the organization of a school, the school principals exhibiting the four factors of transformational leadership were placed in the most struggling schools in the school district.  Within four years of implementing this organizational change, there has been a significant decrease from 22 struggling schools according to the state accountability system to one struggling school.  Students within these schools now have a greater chance of graduating high school because of the significant increase in proficiency and growth in core academics.  The school principals within these schools created an environment where both students and teachers achieved far more than ever thought possible.   


Value to the Field of Study

Transformational leadership has several positive implications for a variety of organizations.  Because this leadership style has a large emphasis on focusing on followers’ needs and providing a sense of empowerment, the style has a strong intuitive appeal (Bass, 2008).  Followers’ perceptions of a leader with transformational leadership factors enhance organizational outcomes.  Furthermore, transformational leaders place a strong emphasis on morals and values.  For example, as previously mentioned, providing students in the struggling schools opportunities to demonstrate proficiency is our moral and ethical obligation to the students and community.  In this case, not only did the teachers have an opportunity for growth, the students did as well. 



In conclusion, transformational leadership promotes high levels of goal mastery within organizations.  The transformational leadership factors of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration, when perceived by followers, lead to commitment to the leaders’ vision and mission.  These factors when exhibited by a leader can lead to greater performance by both the leader and follower that goes well beyond what is expected.  Is it the moral obligation of a leader to promote growth among followers while empowering and supporting efforts toward achieving challenging goals?  Transformational leaders would say, yes, it is the moral obligation of a leader to promote the growth of others for the good of the organization.




Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, & managerial applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.


Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Ing, M., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The influence of school administrators on teacher retention decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 303–333.


Christie, A., Barling, J., & Turner, N., (2011).  Pseudo-transformational leadership: Model specifications and outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(12), 2943-2984.


Crum, K. S., Sherman, W. H., & Myran, S. (2010). Best practices of successful elementary school leaders. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(1), 48–63.


Greenleaf, R. K., Spears, L. C., Covey, S. R., & Senge, P. M. (2002). Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Paulist Press.


Hickman, G. R. (2015). Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Nettles, S. M., & Herrington, C. (2007). Revisiting the importance of the direct effects of school leadership on student achievement: The implications for school improvement policy.


Peabody Journal of Education, 82(4), 724–736.


Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Shaw, J., & Newton, J. (2014). Teacher retention and satisfaction with a servant leader as principal. Education, 135(1), 101–106.


Winston, B. & Patterson, K. (2006). Integrative definition of leadership, International Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(2), 6-66.


Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Shanna M. Flecha Articles

Leadership Effectiveness, Spiritual Values and the Paths to Happiness

To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every other event. Visionary leaders look for a relationship of events with these spiritual forces. They may or may not find themselves to be involved in such events but they may believe in the idea of alignment of events with the transcendent forces.

Visionary leaders have the vitality, drive and determination to get things going and lead others do likewise. They have an inner motivation and the ambition to achieve big. They believe in their motivation and their capacity to think for big goals.


Some of the great world leaders including President George Washington and Winston Churchill mentioned the assistance they got from a ‘guiding hand’.


Winston Churchill said: “… we have a guardian because we serve a great cause, and we shall have that guardian as long as we serve that cause faithfully.


It is reported that the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat had been visited by Mohammed who told him to maintain peace in the Middle East, which he sought after with determination.


Below are some of the quotes from famous business leaders regarding the idea of visionary leadership and its spiritual connection:


A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” — David Gergen


The companies that survive longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world — not just growth or money, but their excellence, their respect for others or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul.” — Charles Handy


A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” — Ralph Lauren


Visionary leaders comprehend that spirituality in the work environment setting is tied in with discovering the reason and meaning, past one’s self, through the opportunities related to the work. Uncovering these purposes would incite significant sentiments of prosperity, a satisfying conviction that one’s work makes an extraordinary or potentially noteworthy contribution.


It might empower a feeling of association with others. Visionary leadership is more than coordinating and directing the followers or people under the effect of leadership. Driving from inside is a method for concentrating on our internal knowing and our natural qualities and strengths. One way of releasing this rich source of knowledge can be by a plan of action to our strengths. Times of emergency and crisis may likewise prove to be the times of enlightenment with the potential for change and development. It may prove to be the time when we start to scrutinize our deeds, needs and the way we live and work.


Major life occasions which may be painful at times, for example, the loss of a friend or family member, separation of one’s family, sickness or injury, may be perceived as opportunities as much as difficulties. Events like these, have a tendency to deliver a need to incite meaning, and the bits of knowledge that develop after it are vital to how we rise up out of them. In the similar context, encounters like near-death experience or such revelations may likewise have that power of such transformation. Visionary leaders may comprehend that with the end goal for them to ingrain a sense of meaning and satisfaction.


Following are the three kinds to happiness that we can experience as proposed by Martin Seligman (credited as the father of Positive Psychology):


1) pleasure and gratification,

2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and

3) meaning and purpose.


The “pleasurable and gratification” is what we encounter when we work on activities that makes us feel enjoyable, for example, purchasing of new things, recreational activities with our family members, sharing quality time with friends and family members or going out on holidays. The life of commitment and engagement is tied in with utilizing our qualities and strengths in the everyday events.


It may come through profound commitment in any action that one may find challenging, which could be a part of one’s professional or family life. A life with a meaning is developed when we start utilizing our qualities for the goal of achieving something that is bigger than one’s self.


“Meaning and Purpose” originates from serving others and may incorporate taking care of the family, helping other individuals, volunteering works, etc. Visionary leaders can help their supporters to these ways of attaining happiness or satisfaction, however the first path that is provided by Seligman can be accomplished outside the work environment and we, normally, know how to achieve it, while the second path has been a part of the work plan for more than 50 years. It is, however, with the third kind (meaning and purpose) with which the leaders may experiment by opening the opportunities to significant and meaningful work.


A manuscript studying more than 150 studies demonstrates that there is a similarity in relationship between spiritual values and leadership efficiencies. Qualities that have for quite some time been viewed as spiritual ideals, for example, empathy, meditation and contemplation, have been shown to be identified with success in leadership.


In a similar way, the practices that are traditionally been associated with the concept of spirituality, and are practiced in everyday life, for example, offering of prayers, etc. have been proposed to be associated with the effectiveness in leadership. In many spiritual practices, emphasis has been put on the application of beliefs like prayers, and it has also been found to be a part of crucial leadership skills including, gesture of respect for others, exhibiting equal or fair treatment, expression of concern, listening and recognizing the work done by others, etc. Spirituality may be utilized as a model or framework for organizational values. In the model being proposed here, the spiritual values may not exhibit an immediate co-relation but it can be perceived as something that enable a channel through which, the other values may found to be aligned.


About the Author:


Vedang R. Vatsa is an initiator and the one who get things done. He developed his skills and worked with some eminent clients on his own. He likes to travel far up to the mountains and deep down to the beaches with an aim to explore the mighty possibilities of reality. He loves to discuss ideas with people and appreciate an honest feedback.


Connect with him on LinkedIn:

Vedang R. Vatsa Articles
Employee engagement starts with good leaders

The Importance of Communication Concepts in a Leader-Follower Relationship

Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learning how to gather information, being open to dialogues, developing effective skills, and being able to read between the lines. These are essential, fundamental tools that are necessary in global environments and cross-cultural communication, because of the roles they help leaders develop as they are striving to become more successful as they embark on a journey of effective leadership.




In order to improve communication with respect to the leader-follower relationship, one should observe the following prerequisites:


i. Maintaining trust: One should be aware that people are likely to forgive many things where trust exists as opposed to where there is no trust. In addition, great leaders also demonstrate the need to get personal as far as communication is concerned. The essence of getting personal is to help an individual be truthful as much as he or she can. Getting specific is another rule of thumb if one is to improve his or her communication because it removes ambiguity (Myatt, 2012). This calls for the need for one to learn to communicate with clarity based on simplicity and conciseness.


ii. Learning techniques to gather information: Learning how to gather information while transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading the vision is another significant aspect to improving one’s communication. An individual can improve his or her communication by developing a ‘servant’s heart’ through focusing on contributing to the overall communication matter than just receiving. It is apparent that one is able to improve his or her communication when he or she seeks to contribute to the overall communication subject more than just receiving information from other parties. In addition to this, one has to have an open mind in order to improve his or her communication. An inflexible mind is a toxic factor of new opportunities for leaders and thus a leader-follower relationship must ensure that individuals are open to dissenting and opposing positions (Myatt, 2012). An individual who wants to improve his or her communication must also be open to new ideas and dialogue to demonstrate the willingness to engage in a discussion with an open mind. The foundation of morality is through empathetic engagement in all aspects while influencing followers towards the attainment of common goals.


iii. Developing effective listening skills: Listening is very important in the process of improving communication since through active listening actual understanding of what has been said is achieved by leaders and their followers. Listening also plays a vital role in ensuring that the leader gives effective and the right feedback in response to what has been heard and understood. Besides, listening ensures that the leader is put in the mindset of serving his or her followers. Thus, the author of this popular press magazine is convinced that developing effective listening skills is an important technique for helping an individual to improve his or her communication (Myatt, 2012). In addition to effective listening, empathy is another fundamental communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. Effective leaders must demonstrate that they care about their followers by avoiding prideful arrogance and ego. Also, they must demonstrate emotional intelligence by being in a position to diagnose, understand, and manage emotional cues based on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill. This should be coupled with the ability to possess a personal understanding which includes the ability to deal with emotions, general performance, as well as the ability to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability and ability to lead others (Patterson et al., 2007). Hence, an individual can improve his or her communication by taking responsibility and accountability as a virtue that connects ethics and integrity.


iv. Reading between the lines: The ability to read between the lines is another essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. This allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. Ultimately, this ensures they become aware of the implications of their ideas, opinions, and thoughts to their followers. As such, an individual can evaluate his or her communication by determining whether he or she reflects upon their communication content before conveying it to their followers. An individual must be reflective of their thoughts and ideas in order to challenge assumptions (Lokhorst, 2016). This is an imperative initiative since it allows leaders to think strategically by conducting an evaluation of their business model, organizational and staff structure, and customer base.




All these communication strategies are essential in global environments and cross-cultural communication in the following ways:


First, effective communication entails the ability to communicate across cultures through appropriate ethical language while respecting others. Ethical concerns also contribute to the challenge of leadership in global working environments. Managers are expected to possess the ability to communicate effectively across cultures through using appropriate ethical language. This should be accompanied with respecting viewpoints of people from different cultural groups in the workplace. The shifting scope of businesses’ operation from local and regional contexts to increasingly global contexts requires successful leaders to possess attributes such as cultural flexibility, emotional intelligence and economic competence, collaboration and control, and effective control (Myatt, 2012).


Employing ethical principles in global working environments also includes the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment, navigating cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, operating in an insightful manner at a personal level, and providing honest information to all stakeholders in the leadership context. This, therefore, makes the leader communication styles imperative.


These communication strategies also enhance co-existence and positive relationships. This is by ensuring that leaders develop emotional intelligence and cultural flexibility, as well as fostering an environment that motivates followers by providing incentives and other necessities to achieve a desired goal (Lokhorst, 2016). The global working environments require the practice of embracing multiplicity or a mixture of individuals from a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations among others. Leaders are also expected to meet technological, economic conditions, labor conditions, and social and cultural standards. This is through understanding ethical concerns, customer needs and motivations, information, and choice available to the workforce, addressing globalization, and corporate governance concerns (Patterson et al., 2007). Those who want to improve their communication with respect to leader-follower relationship need to maintain continuous leadership skill development. This is vital in global working environments and cross-cultural communication.




The communication strategies discussed provide invaluable lessons about leadership with respect to leader-follower communication relationships. To begin with, the changing nature of business operations from local to global environments has led to the evolution of the concept of leadership. The speed of change in all spheres of life demands an entirely different leader to lead in global environments and cross-cultural communication contexts. The leader must strive to adapt rapidly to change and be engaging in constant skill development to lead others to the desired direction. In all these, cultural flexibility is a fundamental leadership competency in global environments. It entails the need for one to demonstrate the ability to be willing to submit to another cultural way of life without feeling anxious or alien-like feelings. In the leader-follower relationship, emotional intelligence is one of the communication imperatives. One must, therefore, demonstrate a deeper understanding of their emotions, weaknesses, strengths, drives, and reactions to problems to know how to handle themselves in different situations. This is particularly important when interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Of ultimate importance in improving communication with regard to the leader-follower relationship is the ability to read between the lines. This is an essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship because it allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. This is the most important stage for if the leader does not get it right here it will not carry over well to the followers.


How you start a project could very well be how you end one.


In essence, the beginning is the end.




Lokhorst, J. (2016). The secret to successful organizational change. Outcomes Magazine. Retrieved from

Myatt, M. (2012). 10 communication secrets of great leaders. Forbes. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from

Patterson, K., Dannhauser, Z., & Stone, A. G. (2007). From Noble to Global: The Attributes of Global Leadership. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. Retrieved from


Priscilla J. DuBose Articles
Successful leadership components

The Essential Components of Effective Leadership

Effective leadership necessary to drive an organization to success is a hot topic in the business world today.  What is effective leadership?  Is leadership an intrinsic quality or learned behavior?  What are the essential components of effective leadership?  These questions and a variety of leadership theories have fueled a library of books on leadership and spurred the development of leadership certification programs around the world.


Though there may be some discrepancy on the definition and components of leadership, it is a widely accepted philosophy that the success of the organization hinges on the presence of effective leadership.  Fortune 500 companies and even small businesses focus heavily on the quality of leadership and how it impacts success.  They spend countless hours in search and interview and devote significant funding to securing maintaining effective leadership.  But, what is effective leadership?  Assemble any group of professionals, and no doubt they could come up with a variety of definitions and numerous components of effective leadership.


It is developing the ability to read people, convey respect and value, secure buy into the group goal, and to inspire people who have facilitated my success as a leader.  Through my experience, I have isolated three components that must be consistently present in a leader’s skill set for him or her to demonstrate effective leadership.  Note that though important and having the potential to provide significant insights, possessing a leadership credential is not included in these three components. 


Three Necessary Components for Effective Leadership


  1. Convey value and respect
  2. Inspire through empowerment
  3. Lead by example and radiate integrity


Convey value and respect.  A leader’s ability to secure buy-in and drive change is contingent upon his/her ability to convey value and respect.  When a leader convinces his charges that they are valued on an individual level and that they have the leader’s professional and personal respect, the strength of the leader grows, as does his potential.  Individuals who feel valued and respected are free to openly contribute and provide alternative insights without fear of condemnation or ridicule.  Value and respect tend to make individuals feel empowered and collaborative.  They see themselves as contributing team members.


As a high school principal, I had a teacher once who was anything but a contributor.  He was an outstanding math teacher but certainly was not collaborative in any sense.  After watching for a few months, it dawned on me that he appeared to be intimidated by his colleagues for whatever reason.  He did not speak up at department meetings, did not participate in faculty meetings, and certainly did not volunteer or accept a school initiative assignment.  He was punctual, met all deadlines, and conducted his class above and beyond expectations, but something vital was missing.  I knew that Mr. Greene could be a real contributor since I could see the out-of-the-box thinking and gregarious personality evident in his teaching. 


At the start of the next school year, I decided that I would change the out-of-the-classroom MO that characterized Mr. Greene.  Sometimes the direct approach is the best when tackling a problem, but then, other times, an indirect approach is most effective.  The faculty assignment for that year was to serve as a model teacher for one week, wherein teachers randomly came into the selected teacher’s classroom to observe.  After the observation, teachers who visited were asked to write reflections of the observation.  I selected teachers whom I knew to be masters of instruction and in particular, student-centered instruction.  Mr. Greene was among the 12 teachers selected for the year.


As I expected, the reflections on Mr. Greene’s instruction were insightful and full of commendations.  Apparently, he was a well-kept secret to his colleagues.  At the close of the week when all of the reflections were viewed and discussed by the faculty, Mr. Greene became quite a celebrity.  It was amazing to see not just the pride that bloomed from a non-contributor but also the igniting of a spark that within the next 18 months developed into a raging inferno.


Faculty members begin to stop Mr. Greene in the hall or lounge to discuss what they should or should not do in class.  He was asked by some teachers to observe them and make suggestions.  He even volunteered to co-lead an instructional strategy seminar at the system education conference.  It was obvious that he was greatly impacted by feeling valued and respected by his colleagues.  During the second term, I asked him if he’d take a part-time instructional coach position, and he gladly accepted.  That was just the beginning.  Later, he chaired or co-chaired the school improvement and school inspection committees and became a regular contributor in nearly every campus initiative.


Though I orchestrated the assignment out of necessity for growth for the entire faculty, Mr. Greene was secretly my project target.  The success of my project was quite simply because he felt valued and respected.  I saw the same result to lesser effects on others that year.  I was overjoyed to see the transformation.  Simply put, I isolated Mr. Greene’s strong suit and drew attention to it.  Mr. Greene had been a diamond covered in dirt.  We just washed off all the dirt and what a prize showed through.  The impact on Mr. Greene and the organization was amazing.


Inspire through Empowerment.  Effective leaders build confidence and inspire a desire to make a personal contribution to the common goal, ultimately impacting organizational success.  After all, the ability to inspire others defines true leadership; however, inspiration is difficult, if not impossible, unless those who are led feel empowered, competent, and valued.  Leaders who overlook the significance of empowerment will struggle.  Sure, they may lead a qualified team, but leadership that develops leadership goes further, as it increases organization and individual productivity and potential.


Empowerment works to develop potential and facilitates the growth of a collaborative network of professionals, each contributing by their unique skill set as it blossoms.  Empowerment provides an avenue for individuals to develop confidence, take chances, and feel valued.  Successful leaders embrace the opportunity to build collective potential by building individual confidence.  They build success within the organization by inspiring individuals to personal and professional growth.  An individual who is competent and will take risks and make mistakes, but in doing so will increase the strength of his skill set. 


Without empowerment, leaders simply convey direction.  Leadership without empowerment is akin to simple management in which individuals work within the bounds of a prescriptive arrangement and complete assigned tasks.  In this arrangement, individuals are responsible for output, not input.  The ability to inspire through empowerment people propels individual and organizations to great heights.  By empowering employees, leaders develop contributors, take advantage of a diversity of skill sets, and develop ways of thinking and problem solving—thus, strengthening the organization.  


Empowerment is achieved through ACT.


  • Accept that they may make mistakes
  • Convey trust
  • Target the known skill set of your employees


Allowing employees to make mistakes without fear of termination or terminal condemnation provides them with a freedom to fail.  In theory, failure over time will diminish as skill sets and experience increase.  If employees know that they have the leader’s trust to freely make decisions, undertake initiatives, problem solve, and direct activities within their purview, they will do so and will grow professionally.  This builds confidence, builds the individual skill sets, and creates a working environment that can function in the periodic absence of the organizational leader.  Keep in mind that targeting employees who have potential and a skill set that matches their assignment is vital in achieving the intended outcomes of empowerment.


Lead by example and radiate integrity.  Exhibiting a high level of integrity garners respect from others.  Leading without the respect of others is like going to battle without a plan.  Employees constantly critique the integrity of their leader.  You can bet they are watching to see consistency in dealing with employees and honesty in all actions—and casting a critical eye for favoritism or other deviation from organizational policy.  They are watching to see if organizational policies apply to all, even the leader.  They pick up on even small dents in the honor of the leader.  Employees watch actions, interactions, and reactions of the leader.


Leaders have many responsibilities, but among the most important is establishing and maintaining a mutual trust and respect with those he or she leads.  Employees who respect the leader will be far more likely to take direction and embrace the leader’s vision.  Displaying only behaviors that are aligned with the highest level of integrity, and acting, interacting, and reacting in a professional and honorable manner will allow the leader to set the groundwork for effective leadership.


Loss of or lack of integrity destroys respect for the leader.  Employees may show respect, but showing respect does little for building the organization.  Leaders must strive to BE respected if they are to be effective leaders.  Possessing a high level of integrity is the only way to ensure respect.  If the leader operates in such a manner as to treat all employees fairly and by the organizational policies, an atmosphere of predictability is created.  Employees find comfort in predictability. 



The survival and potential productivity of an organization rests heavily on effective leadership. Possessing a clear understanding of the components of effective leadership can enable a leader to develop leaders within the organization and increase organizational productivity.  The development of an effective leadership style takes time, experience, and dedication to incorporating these three vital leadership components into a leader’s skill set.  Without even one of these vital components, a leader cannot achieve the coveted status of a truly effective leader.


Author Note: Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Katherine Bradley, Ph.D., 950 E. Main Street, Suite 607, Cartersville, GA 30120.




Dr. Katherine Bradley earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Mercer University in 2009.  Dr. Bradley’s experience includes 30 years in the education arena, working in private, public, parochial, single-gender, coeducational, domestic, and international environments.  She has served in school leadership positions for 10 years and is currently serving as an educational consultant and co-founder of Leadership Leaders LLC, a leadership consulting firm in Georgia.


Dr. Katherine Bradley, Ph.D. Articles
Six keys to highly effective staff meetings

6 Keys to Highly Effective Staff Meetings

Information-sharing meetings, also known as staff meetings, are one of the most common meetings held by organizations, and for good reason; communication is the lifeblood of any organization. When everyone within an organization knows the same key information, then there will be alignment and synchronization between different members of the organization (Davis 2001). Meetings can be a tool used to codify strategic objectives, posturing teams for organizational effectiveness. Meetings are held by managers at various levels of an organization to disseminate pertinent information to subordinates or lower-level managers. Staff meetings are a great venue for discussing organizational changes, collecting updates on complex projects and communicating organizational expectations with employees.


In many cases, new managers are unaware of when meetings are appropriate. Some never hold meetings and just communicate electronically, whereas others hold multiple meetings per day or per week. Holding ineffective meetings cultivates a disdain for meetings and stagnates productivity. Ineffective meetings can cripple operations and organizational effectiveness, leading to potential profit losses, eclipses in project timelines and poor organizational morale. Below are keys managers can utilize to drive staff-meeting success.


Key #1 – Know if a meeting is required: If you get a reputation for conducting useless meetings, the busiest and best people won’t show up (Booher, 2012). Managers should establish open-door policies and promote an environment where communication is free and unhindered. Managers shouldn’t use meetings as the only source of communication with team members. A manager who holds meetings to communicate information that’s not applicable to the team displays a lack of concern for others’ time, creating a negative perception of meetings. This eventually leads to lack of participation, absenteeism or subordinates wanting to provide written inputs to the meeting instead of attending. Hold a meeting when collective feedback is warranted.


Key #2 – Create an agenda: Organization is the cornerstone of meetings. Agendas are a key ingredient to the recipe of successful meetings. There may be criticism that an agenda will make the meeting too formal and that participants may not have the opportunity to freely express their thoughts but that’s not true if the meeting is facilitated effectively. An agenda is an outline that helps the facilitator to keep the meeting focused and on target. When a meeting is focused and targeted, it facilitates problem solving and information dissemination. Always make a list of agenda items according to their importance (Parker 2006). Listing items according to their importance helps the facilitator ensure there is sufficient time to discuss the most important items. It is highly inefficient for subordinates to leave their desk and convene around a table to discuss items of low importance that could have been discussed via electronic correspondence. The agenda should be sent out as far in advance as practical so participants can contribute appropriately.


Key #3 – Ensure that participants know their roles: Often times multiple representatives from a department will attend a meeting and it’s not clear who is speaking on that department’s behalf. This can degrade the quality of the meeting experience as the ambiguity of who officially represents a department can distract from the main points and throw participants off track. There should be a person identified to record outcomes and solutions as meetings are often used to assign tasks and distribute information. The minutes are a solid method of identifying who is accountable for the outcomes and suggestions made during the meeting.


Key #4 – Select an Appropriate Venue: The venue of the meeting is imperative to its efficacy. When a meeting location is conveniently located and properly prepared, it’s easy to overlook the logistical planning and effort applied to it. Ineffective meetings are partly the result of poorly planned logistics, location and preparation. Handling logistics is like a backdrop to a play; few notice unless something goes wrong (Davis 2001). The chair of the meeting should select a place that’s centrally located to all participants and annotate it on the agenda. The room should be equipped with all the appropriate equipment and media i.e. climate-controlled room, projectors adequate lighting, meeting table and comfortable seats. A proper venue postures all involved for success.


Key #5 – Get everyone genuinely involved: Most meetings are considered boring which drives low participation and effectiveness. To make meetings productive, the participants should be engaged and the team leader or facilitator should bring everyone into the discussion.  The facilitator can accomplish this by empowering members of the team and earnestly soliciting their inputs. Develop a thought of the day to open the meeting and rotate that responsibility among team members. This increases engagement, provides members with a stake in the meeting and makes the meeting fun.


Key #6 – Chair with balance: An effective chair will demonstrate the ability to articulate the principles of fairness, equality and common sense in a clear and compelling manner (Mina 2000). Set clear ground rules for participation at the inception. Meetings can be derailed when participants talk out of turn and endlessly debate.


In today’s fast paced business world, it’s become increasingly challenging to work and communicate across organizational structures and operational demands. Managers must be highly skilled practitioners of time management, by ensuring they facilitate meetings that are highly productive and not detested by team members. These six steps can help managers ensure that the team gets the most out of staff meetings.




Booher, D., & Booher, D. (2012). Tip 1. In Leading effective meetings 72 tips to save time, improve teamwork, and make better decisions.


Davis, J. H. (2001). Planning and leading productive meetings.


Mina, E. (2000). The complete handbook of business meetings.

Jonathan McRoy, M.S., CM, CLC Articles

You Received The Offer – 5 Steps Assessing It

Accepting a job is one of life’s big decision and requires that you put some thought into it no matter what your current situation is whether it is your first job, you are changing jobs or currently unemployed. Don’t let the stress of the job search and your current situations lead you to accept a position just to be done with the process. Read More >

Anthony T. Eaton, PHR, SHRM-CP Articles