37.4 COMMUNICATION IN LEADERSHIP, fan al ittisaal fi al qiyaadat

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.


Communication is transfer of information using symbols. The meaning of the symbols is interpreted subjectively by the recipient. Communication may be consciously or unconsciously. It may be verbal (oral or written) or non-verbal (body language & appearance). Its elements are the sender, the message, the medium, the receiver, and feedback. Its functions are informing, controlling, expressing emotions, and motivating. Its channels are personal static such as letters, impersonal static such as flyers, direct interaction such as face-to-face communication, and indirect interaction such as telephone communication. Perception, the organizing and interpreting of incoming information, is selective being influenced by environment, background knowledge, and background attitudes. Different people perceive the same communication differently.



The communication process consists of conceptualization of ideas, encoding and transmitting the message, decoding and interpretation of the message, and feedback. Words have power and must be selected carefully because they determine and restricts thought. Language must be appropriate (by intimacy, professional circles, age group, and gender), individualized, precise, believable, credible, and pleasant. Communication style reflects basic personality. Barriers to effective communication are prejudgment before communication, differences between communicators (self-image, status, roles, personality, cognitive ability, physical situation, social status, culture, vocabulary, and language), distractions, emotional resistance to being on the receiving end, time constraints, poor listening, poor speech, bad timing, and unsuitable circumstances. Other causes of communication failure are multiple meanings of words, information overlord, verbosity, value judgment, and filtering.



Face-to-face communication is usually the best form of communication because of immediate feedback. Success of oral communication (speaking and listening) is affected by language use, voice and inflexion, speed and volume, periods of silence, active listening, body language, clear speech with an objective, repetition, conciseness, and feedback. When urguing a case, start from a common ground, use only logical reasoning, and do not be emotional. Silence is better than careless, wrong, offensive, or misleading talk. What leads to confusion should not be said even if it is true. Listening can be active (with feedback) or passive (no response). Barriers to effective listening are weak extrinsic motivation, personal constraints, environmental constraints, and poor timing of the message.



Public speaking informs, entertains, inspires, convinces, motivates, teaches, and trains. It involves the speaker, the message, the situation, feed-back, and listeners. The speaker must have integrity, knowledge, a positive attitude, sensitivity to the audience and the situation, oral skills, self-confidence, self-control, good preparation, energy, sincerity, and credibility (based on physical appearance, posture, gestures, movements, and voice quality). A successful speech is short, simple, sincere, related to the audience, well prepared, based on knowledge of the subject, innovative, and creative. The topic is narrowed to 2-3 points. The introduction is a concise overview that raises interest and expectations. The body of the speech consists of main points as well as links and transitions to ensure a smooth flow. The conclusion summarizes key ideas, gives a sense of completeness, and appeals to the audience. The language must be clear and appropriate for the topic, situation, and audience. Rehearsing a speech increases the speaker's confidence. The methods of delivery are from memory, by reading manuscript, ex-tempore, and impromptu. Retention is increased by audio-visuals, repetition, periods of silence, audience participation, short and simple speeches, examples and stories, acronyms, memorable quotes, sincerity, appropriate body language and emotion. Problems from the audience are heckling, hositility, inattention, and challenges by experts. The speaker must antricipate questions and prepare for them. He must empathize with the questioner and show he understands them.



Written communication projects image about the writer and leaves a permanent record. The aim of official writing is to express and not impress. It must be brief, precise, direct, forceful, accurate, and result-oriented. Long convoluted sentences should be abandoned for short powerful sentences. The language must be simple and devoid of technical jargon. Writing is helped by thinking logically of blocks of ideas and then translating them into a document. Writing must be emotionally honest, evidence-oriented, directed at solving problems, and purposive.  The writing process consists of creating followed by revising.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004