Chapter Eight: Communication; 11 August
The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
|What Is the First Function of The Executive?|
My mission in combat arms was simple, “Move, Shoot and Communicate.” Who knew war-fighting was so much like corporate America?
The military is perhaps the world’s best training platform to learn and study the practice of management. Your Business Professor learned the value of the ‘net’ while in the Army years before the Internet and our current world wide web of connectivity. Every small Army unit was connected by a secure radio ‘net’ to maintain contact with superiors and subordinates.
It mattered not how competent a team was in mobility or marksmanship if the group was not connected and communicated with sister units and the boss. The unit could not be considered to be combat effective unless it was on-line.
Once radio contact was made by gaining permission to join the net, with authentication, the work of the senior commander could continue. He had many parts to play and communication was at the center of the web.
“There are three roles that all managers perform,” writes Thomas Bateman at the University of Virginia,
Interpersonal, as leader, liaison, figurehead;
Informational, as monitor, disseminator, spokesman; and
Decisional, as entrepreneur, disturbance handler, negotiator. (Thomas S. Bateman 2013)
Each of these demands the ability to send and receive data both in person and electronically.
And this is non-stop, even if redundant. Samuel Johnson said, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.”
Presidential speechwriter James C. Humes emphasizes that,
Leadership is selling. And selling is talking. The ability of a chief executive to talk for and promote his company is a chief factor in determining the worth of that company in the marketplace.
Harold Burson, founder and head of one of the nation’s biggest public relations agencies, Burson & Marsteller, commissioned a survey that found that 86 percent of analysts said they “would buy stock based on the CEO’s reputation.” Humes, James C. (2009-02-19). Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers (Kindle Locations 26-29). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University says,
Watch any manager and one thing readily becomes apparent: the amount of time that is spent simply communicating—namely, collecting and disseminating information for its own sake, without necessarily processing it.
Barnard, himself a chief executive (of New Jersey Telephone), identified the “first executive function” as “to develop and maintain a system of communication” (1938:226). (Mintzberg 2009)
Mintzberg quips, “As Jeanne Liedtka of the Darden School has put it (in a talk I attended): “Talk is the technology of leadership.” (Mintzberg 2009)
Talk and technology were about to explode in the 1920s. Herbert Hoover was the first president to have a telephone on his desk. Earlier presidents would have one secretary. He had five. There was a lot more communicating to do. (Manchester 1973) And even that was not enough. Hoover still got the blame for the Great Depression beginning in 1929.
The manager spends his day in communication, so that means s/he’s got to be a real talker? Right?
Maybe so. Mintzberg “and others have found that managing to be between 60 and 90 percent oral.” (Mintzberg 2009)
The manager will have to do better that Wendell L. Willkie. He did not pace himself and lost his voice during the presidential campaign in 1940. This made his run even more difficult against the practiced FDR. (Manchester 1973)
President Ronald Reagan is known as the Great Communicator, who spent decades practicing the craft of delivering the lines of a speech. He knew how to present the aura of optimism; that the future would be better. That, under his leadership, we would have a new morning in America.
And we did. Because he said so.
The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. Isaiah 50:4