Competency Documentation


4a: Collaborative consultant with skills in effective communication

Scholarly/Philosophical Foundations (from IDP)
Research paper on Adventist LEAP
Reflection paper: philosophy of leadership and effective communications section answering such questions as: What leadership skills were exhibited in the planning and writing of these various communication items? What communication skills came into play during the process? What leadership types facilitate good communication between leader and follower? How is servant leadership affected by and/or dependent upon good communication?

Communication is essential in helping change a vision. Kotter's chapter on "Communicating the Change Vision" (Leading Change, chapter 6), gives several significant principles of communication that apply to communication. First, he says that "the real power of a vision is unleashed only when most of those involved in an enterprise or activity have a common understanding of its goals and direction" (85). This can best happen through communication. In the case of marketing and public awareness, "those involved" are your target audience instead of your employees, subordinates, or coworkers. Kotter goes on to list key elements in effective communication of vision, several of which are particularly applicable to effective communication: Simplicity; Metaphor, analogy, and example; Multiple Forums; Repetition.

Simplicity relates to communication by telling us to eliminate, or at least reduce, jargon. Our message will be more effective if it can be understood by a greater percentage of our target audience by making it "jargon free" (91).

Metaphor, analogy, and example are regularly used in effective communication to get a point across. However, in reading Kotter's ideas about this, I can see how my communication/marketing efforts for KEEP can be made more effective, and how I could have done better marketing the Easy Bake Cookie products. Kotter gave several examples of short, concise analogies that were used in business to convey a pointed message (92). Creating these powerful word pictures will help propel the target audience to action with clear communication.

Kotter refers to Multiple forums (93) as various avenues for spreading the word about the vision change. In effective communication, this can refer to using a wide variety of methods to advertise and therefore communicate your message to your target audience. For CVJA, we utilized the local weekly newspaper to advertise our school, mostly through telling stories (Wanner, On With the Story) to our target audience. We also utilized the conference paper, the Gleaner, to convey messages about the school to prospective families in the conference who might consider moving to our area. When our school did a trash-a-thon on a prominent road in our community, another "forum" was utilized. However, once again I can see how thought should be given to broaden the avenues for effective communication through expanding the forums we currently use for communicating our message. For KEEP, for instance, I need to go to my marketing committee during our next meeting and brainstorm (Osborn) about expanding our "forums" for communicating our message out to our target audience. We currently rely primarily on the printed word and "stories" to convey the importance of our message. We have a logo that succinctly gives the message as well. We have produced two promotional videos, and we have "KEEP ambassadors" at every church to promote the KEEP Scholarship. How can we broaden this base of communication methods?

Repetition seems to be a given in the field of communication. Kotter says, "All successful cases of major change seem to include tens of thousands of communications..." (94). As can be seen from the documentation, Repetition is evident in my communication efforts, but as can also be evidenced, these marketing messages have not numbered in the tens of thousands. Kotter gives examples of all people within the organization referring to the "vision" multiple times in various situations each day. I can see how I can utilize this information by discussing with my KEEP marketing committee ways to increase our Repetition of our message by better utilizing our "KEEP Ambassadors" to each church. Other ideas will doubtless spring from the minds of the other leaders on my committee.

Colin Powel's leadership style embodies an additional principle that would be helpful in implementing effective communication. Harai says that Powel believes "we are in a global knowledge economy, and that to succeed in that economy, a leader must blow the communications lid off the place" (The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powel, 36). He encourages a "noisy system" where leaders discuss issues openly with their subordinates, in a "bottom up" type of manner where the leader actually listens and seriously considers the advice of the subordinate when making decisions (chapter 2). Perhaps our marketing efforts for KEEP would become more effective if we initiated a focus group to discuss what impacts them in advertising in general, and in promoting an endowment in particular. I have already completed two focus groups for Adventist LEAP, and my initial inertia to create this program came from discussions with parents in what was really an informal interview. I can see both how I have utilized these ideas, and how I can use them more effectively in the future.

A little web research helped me see that the field of communication and public relations is closely related to the field of leadership. Many of the tenets that experts in public relations uphold align with those in leadership. For instance, the term "integrity" comes up over and over again in documents relating to the study of public relations (see quote below as one example), and integrity is a key concept in leadership as well. Yukl, on pages 187-188 of Leadership in Organizations, explains that "Integrity means that a person's behavior is consistent with espoused valued, and the person is honest, ethical, and trustworthy." Yukl furthers the discussion of integrity in leadership in chapter 14 of the same book, saying that "integrity means that a person's behavior is consistent with a set of justifiable moral principles." Integrity continues to be mentioned in leadership material, books, and seminars (e.g. Karen Graham).

A leader must be trusted, and must inspire others to believe in his cause. This inspiration may be furthered by effective communication. "An organization’s reputation, or the essence of how it is viewed by all of its publics, is the leading factor in its ability to achieve success ....Restoring trust and helping this organization and others to earn a reputation for credibility will require sound public relations leadership. Indeed, with integrity central on the minds of average Americans, the role of public relations today is more critical than ever before." Renée A. Prejean-Motanky, "Advice and Perspective," Publicity Club of Chicago (http://www.publicity.org/rapoct03.htm). It seems apparent that an effective leader must also communicate his goals successfully in manner that inspires trust and proves integrity.

"A company's reputation, or the essence of how it is viewed by all of its publics, is the leading factor in its ability to achieve success. With this in mind, the battered image of the corporate world is no small matter. Restoring trust and helping companies to earn a reputation for credibility will require sound public relations leadership. Indeed, with corporate integrity central on the minds of average Americans, the role of public relations today is more critical than ever before." (Emphasis mine.)

Today's Business Climate and the Role of Public Relations
By Gwinavere Johnston - JohnstonWells Public Relations, http://www.ad-mkt-review.com/public_html/docs/fs050.html

For additional reflections related to this competency, see the following:

CVJA Work Study Program

Reflection paper for AVLN Conference, Summer 2003

LEAD690: Online Communication