Business leaders think differently today about how they engage and interact with customers and their own employees thanks to Social Media. In some companies, leaders have fostered a genuinely interactive culture—values, norms, and behaviors that create a welcoming space for dialogue.
Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind have been conducting a research project that focuses on the state of organizational communication in the 21st century to analyze how leaders manage communication within their organizations.
Over more than two years they interviewed professional communicators as well as top leaders at a variety of organizations—large and small, blue chip and start-up, for-profit and nonprofit, U.S. and international. To date they have spoken with nearly 150 people at more than 100 companies. Both implicitly and explicitly, participants in their research mentioned their efforts to “have a conversation” with their people or their ambition to “advance the conversation” within their companies. Building upon the insights and examples gleaned from this research, Groysberg and Slind have developed a model of leadership that they call “organizational conversation”, and they have concluded that traditional corporate communication must give way to a process that is more dynamic and more sophisticated. Most important, that process must be conversational.
According to their study, they have observed that by talking with employees, rather than simply issuing orders, leaders can retain or recapture some of the qualities—operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment—that enable start-ups to outperform better-established rivals.
They have identified four elements of organizational conversation that reflect the essential attributes of interpersonal conversation:
Intimacy: Getting Close
Interactivity: Promoting Dialogue
Inclusion: Expanding Employees’ Roles
Intentionality: Pursuing an Agenda
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