Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relations between leaders’ communication styles and charismatic leadership, human-oriented leadership (leader’s consideration), task-oriented leadership (leader’s initiating structure), and leadership outcomes.
Methodology: A survey was conducted among 279 employees of a governmental organization. The following six main communication styles were operationalized: verbal aggressiveness, expressiveness, preciseness, assuredness, supportiveness, and argumentativeness. Regression analyses were employed to test three main hypotheses.
Findings: In line with expectations, the study showed that charismatic and human-oriented leadership are mainly communicative, while task-oriented leadership is significantly less communicative. The communication styles were strongly and differentially related to knowledge sharing behaviors, perceived leader performance, satisfaction with the leader, and subordinate’s team commitment. Multiple regression analyses showed that the leadership styles mediated the relations between the communication styles and leadership outcomes. However, leader’s preciseness explained variance in perceived leader performance and satisfaction with the leader above and beyond the leadership style variables.
Implications: This study offers potentially invaluable input for leadership training programs by showing the importance of leader’s supportiveness, assuredness, and preciseness when communicating with subordinates.
Originality/value: Although one of the core elements of leadership is interpersonal communication, this study is one of the first to use a comprehensive communication styles instrument in the study of leadership.
Several authors have noted that communication is central to leadership (Awamleh and Gardner 1999; Den Hartog and Verburg 1997; Frese et al. 2003; Kirkpatrick and Locke 1996; Riggio et al. 2003; Shamir et al. 1994; Spangler and House 1991; Towler 2003), but, except for studies devoted to oratory skills and content in highly specific speech-like contexts, few have attempted to operationalize the communication styles leaders use in their daily transactions with subordinates. Even fewer have attempted to find out what the relations are of these communication styles with general leadership styles and outcome variables. This is somewhat surprising, given that one of the core elements of leadership is a leader’s interpersonal communication style. In this study, we will consider leadership from this communicative perspective, and we will define a leader’s communication style as a distinctive set of interpersonal communicative behaviors geared toward the optimization of hierarchical relationships in order to reach certain group or individual goals. In line with Daft (2003) and McCartney and Campbell (2006), we make a distinction between the interpersonal aspects of leadership, which revolve around communicative activities in interpersonal relationships, and the managerial aspects of leadership, which revolve around non-interpersonal activities such as planning, organizing, decision-making, problem-solving, and controlling, and we will focus our work on the first of these two, i.e., a leader’s interpersonal communicative behaviors. The goal of this paper is to operationalize a leader’s interpersonal communication style, to uncover the relations between common leadership style measures and our measure of a leader’s communication style, and to find out about the differential and incremental prediction of several important leadership outcomes using both common leadership style measures and our leader’s communication style measure.