How to Lead and Communicate Effectively in an Organization – Lessons from Sunrise Regional Council

  1. Introduction

A good organisational behaviour and effective communication enhances the success of the organisation in implementing project. Sunrise Regional Council is at the verge of failing in its project implementation. It plans to implement a project intended to build an expressway that was initiated by the former CEO. The decision of building the road was a good one because the expressway offered several benefits to the region, including reduced amount of commuting time and creation of safe paths for pedestrians.

However, the project did not receive public backing because the public felt that the project was imposed on them. The former CEO did not get support from the public, not because the project was bad but because the public was not involved. There was no effective communication mechanism to sell the project not only to the public, but also to the council staff. Even managers close to the former CEO did not have a say about the project. They all felt that this was the CEO’s project. The main reason of failure was their communication breakdown in all levels of the organisation and to the external environment.

This report will provide the new CEO, Shayne Williams, with an analysis of the situation in Sunrise Regional Council. The report will analyze the organisational behaviour issues in the council and the communication issues of the county council regarding the implementation of the project. The organisational behaviour issue identified is poor leadership while the communication issues are lack of transparency and feedback, and inability to communicate the vision of the organisation internally and externally. It will also provide recommendations on the most appropriate course of action in order to enhance effective communication and success of the roading initiative.

  1. Discussion
    • Organisational behaviour issue – Leadership

The organisational behaviour issue that can be identified from the case is poor leadership. The former CEO, to be specific, demonstrated poor leadership. In order to understand why Sunrise Regional Council had a good manager but a bad leader, it is important to define the term leadership and identify the roles and characteristics of a good leader.

Leadership can be defined as a process of influencing other members of a group towards the achievement of organisational goals and objectives (Rollinson, 2008). It is also about doing things through others. Leadership is a dynamic process in which a person creates a vision and translates it into a reality.

In transformational approach to leadership, effective leaders have various common qualities. Transformational theory of leadership suggests that leaders should trust and value people, delegate effectively, develop the potential of people, and encourage questioning of traditional approaches (McKenna, 2006). A good transformational leader is also approachable and does not maintain the status quo. Transformational leadership also requires transparency and honesty. Furthermore, an effective leader should consult and involve others in decision making. Most importantly, a good leader is an exceptional communicator.

From this theoretical information on leadership, it is clear that Sunrise Regional Council lacked this form of leadership in its former regime. Although the former CEO was a good manager who could make good decisions, he lacked the necessary leadership skills to earn the trust of his followers. The case study suggests that the former CEO left the council amidst great distrust and animosity from ratepayers and staff.

Key stakeholders also lost faith in the council to implement the transport network. This shows that the council’s leaders were not able to articulate an effective vision on the transport network project. The case study also shows that communication with affected communities has broken down. In this regard, it can be argued that the leaders of the council lacked leadership skills because effective leaders are exceptional communicators. Furthermore, the leaders lacked transparency. The case study suggests that there was no transparency in the decision-making process.

Theory also suggests that leaders are approachable. However, the former leadership of Sunrise Regional Council was not approachable. The staff suggests that the former CEO “played cards close to his own chest.” This shows that the CEO was not approachable. Transformational leadership also requires a leader to delegate duties. The former CEO lacked this attribute. Middle level managers felt that they did not have any ownership of the idea, and their suggestions for change were not considered. The CEO did not give them any chance to perform some duties regarding the project.

  1. Communication issues

There are evidently detrimental communicational problems in Sunrise Regional Council. Shayne Williams has noted that the main problem in the implementation of the new strategy is communication breakdown. The genesis of communication breakdown in the council is poor leadership which imposed its own vision on the people without considering their views. The main communication issues in the council are: transparency and feedback, and communication of the council’s vision internally and externally.

Transparency and Feedback

Transparency and feedback in communication are related. Those who are tasked with the managerial roles of decision making need to be transparent in their decisions and they should provide feedback for the opinions, views, suggestions and contributions of other stakeholders (D’Aprix, 1996). The managers should be able to disclose information related to the project transparency in order to earn the trust and support of the public and members of the council. Kloprogge et al (2007) suggest that disclosure of information is necessary for an organisation to communicate uncertainties to its audiences.

In the case of Sunrise Regional Council, stakeholders are complaining that the senior managers are not providing information concerning the project transparently. The community feels that those who have been given the responsibility to make decisions in the council are not transparent in the decision making process. This has led to opposition from the public on implementation of the project. Rahjans (2012) suggests that maintaining a good relationship between various members of the organisation is essential at all levels of an organisation. Honest and transparent communication strengthens such relationships. As a result, employees will be motivated to attain maximum productivity while the community and other stakeholders will support the project.

In terms of feedback, the council fails to respond to the concerns and opinions of the community regarding the proposed route. Their suggestions for alternative transport solutions are also ignored by the council. The staff is also not provided with feedback on their role in implementing the project. For instance, those who deal with complaints are not given information about the new transport changes. The customer service team was also not able to provide answers to the questions asked by the community because they did not have enough information about the project.

Communicate the council’s vision to internal and external stakeholders

According to Rollinson (2008), a transformational leader should communicate the organisation’s vision to internal and external stakeholders. The former CEO of Sunrise Regional Council lacks this attribute. The failure of the former CEO to communicate his vision about the transport changes led to lack of support from stakeholders.

According to Rahjans (2012), an organisation should develop a communication culture in order to build trust and stimulate engagement in the organisation. Engagement and trust in Sunrise Regional Council community has not been achieved because the former CEO failed to articulate clear communication strategies to communicate his vision and develop a communication culture in the council. Communicating the vision could help the council to perform well in the changing scenario.

  1. Conclusion
    • Implementation of the new transport network project has failed because the former CEO failed as a leader to lead the council’s staff and the entire community effectively in order to achieve the organisational objectives.
    • The council lacked support for the new transport changes from the community and the council’s staff and managers because the leadership did not communicate the vision of the council internally and externally
    • The community also opposed the project because the council did not provide feedback to their questions, suggestions, concerns and opinions.
    • The community also opposed the project because the council did not provide information about the project to them transparently and honestly.

 

  1. Recommendations
    • The new CEO Shayne Williams should use appropriate leadership styles in order to bring together all the members of the council including managers, employees and the community. In order to achieve this, the CEO should delegate duties and communicate effectively to all stakeholders about the project.
    • The new CEO should also build trust among his followers and encourage collaboration across all organisational levels
    • The CEO should also create a clear vision and sell it through communication to all members of the council. Before attempting to implement the new project, the CEO should first ensure that all stakeholders (both internal and external) understand the vision in terms of costs and benefits to the organisation.
    • Communicating the vision can be done through the council’s website, seminars, workshops, bulletins, meetings, conferences, emails, and internal memos.
    • The CEO should also offer training to his customer service staff so that they can be able to answer questions from the community and provide effective feedback to their concerns
    • The new leadership should also develop effective mechanisms of disclosing information in a transparent and honest manner. This can be done by providing information during meetings and creating forums to allow the public and employees to answer questions and offer their suggestions.

 

References list

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D’Aprix, R. (1996). Communicating for Change – Connecting the Workplace with the Marketplace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Kloprogge, P., Sluijs, J. and Wardekker, A. (2008). Uncertainty Communication: Issues and Good Practice. Utrecht: Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and Innovation

McKenna, E.F. (2006). Business psychology and organisational behaviour: a student’s handbook. New York: Psychology Press.

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Rahjans, K. (2012). Effective Organizational Communication: a Key to Employee Motivation and Performance. Interscience Management Review, 2(2), 81-85.

Rollinson, D. (2008). Organizational Behavior and Analysis. London: Prentice Hall

Senior, B., & Fleming, J. (2006). The Leadership of Change in Organizational change. London: Prentice Hall.

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