How powerful are the words you use when creating a strategic business vision? According to a research study conducted by three professors, two from Texas A&M International University and one from The Citadel School of Business Administration, how the top leader conveys this information is almost as important as the information itself.
This research study focuses on motivating language theory (MLT) and utilizes the following supportive theories: leadership theory, motivating language theory, speech acts theory, motivational theory, path goal theory, expectancy theory, and goal-setting theory. MLT means to create a model of how top organizational leaders can transmit organizational visions and related values to internal and external stakeholders in order to attain improved organizational performance and stakeholder welfare.
The goal of the researchers is to extend the MLT to support the organizational level along with the existing individual, dyadic, and team levels. They also plan on providing a clear model of how leaders can create effective strategic vision. The researchers discovered these two important components to be missing from previous research: top leader empathy or humane expressed concern to both internal and external stakeholders. They believe this plays a key part to creating superior performance and top leader efficacy.
The researchers find MLT to be very difficult for many companies to master due to many of today’s employee’s being boundary-less; fluidly shifting workplaces and careers. They believe this is largely due to broken psychological contracts between employers and employees caused by downsizing, off-shoring, contingent employees, and economic uncertainty. While at the very same time, they believe consumers and society are demanding even higher expectations of organizational responsiveness to their needs.
There are four key assumptions of MLT: the leader must walk-the-talk; the three facets comprise the majority of a leaders’ speech (meaning, direction, and empathy); and the employee must accurately perceive the leader’s intended message. The researchers assert that effective strategic vision expresses shared organizational goals (interprets and provides a positive direction), meaning, values and conveys empathy to stakeholders.
They also found that how the top leader conveys this information is almost as important as the information itself. The researchers encourage using a story to help facilitate meaning between the different leadership and employment levels. The researchers have found that top leaders are better able to create a strategic vision once they have consistently received feedback from stakeholders.
While I appreciated the thorough investigation and summarizations of previous research and studies, it would have been nice for these researchers to have conducted additional studies of their own to test their propositions.
Mayfield, Jacqueline., Mayfield, Milton., and Sharbrough, William C. “Strategic Vision and Values in Top Leaders’ Communications: Motivating Language at a Higher Level”. International Journal of Business Communication, (2015) 52(1), 97-121.