The articles where professional written for leaders to pull out useful and real-world principles that everyday leaders would enc
Reviewed in the United States on 7 August 2016
HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Communication gives readers compelling data and practical information on the many important factors involved in helping leaders communicate. The articles where professional written for leaders to pull out useful and real-world principles that everyday leaders would encounter as the strive to present and express mission, vision, plans, projects or any other message they may desire to others they lead.
The compilation of articles in this book spends about half of its entirety on the topic of persuasion. Williams and Miller in Change the Way You Persuade, challenge presenters to understand the decision-making styles of their audience and plan accordingly. “Knowing the general characteristics of the different styles can help you better tailor your presentations and arguments to your audience” (Williams & Miller, 2002, p. 4). The five decision-making styles they propose are charismatic, thinker, skeptic, follower and controller. Curbing each presentation to these styles will promote better success for leaders who are trying to persuade others. Cialdini adds in his article Harnessing the Science of Persuasion that the ability to persuade is one of a leaders most critical tools. He gives explains six principles that when mastered can “bring scientific rigor to the business of securing consensus, cutting deals and winning concessions” (Cialdini, 2001, p.26). The six principles are liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity. By engaging in these principles leaders can begin understanding how others analyze information and make their decisions. Tannen takes a linguistic perspective on the idea of persuasion in her article, The Power of Talk. She states, “Everthying that is said must be said in a certain way – in a certiaiin tone of voice, at a certain rate of speed, and with a certain degree of loudness” (1995, p. 44). This article show how powerful the way an individual speaks can impact not just an audience but individual relationship in association with persuasive communication. Finally, Conger’s article, The Necessary Art of Persuasion lays out four essential elements that helps a leader to prepare a strategy of persuasion. 1) Establish credibility, 2) Frame goals for common ground, 3)Provide evidence, 4) Connect emotionally. Conger is convincing in the way he explains persuasion as more of an art then how Cialdini views it, more scientific.
As the reader moves further into this book they come to Is Silence Killing Your Company?, an article by Perlow and Williams. The authors in this article clearly explain how silence can be detrimental to a company in many circumstances. If employees don’t feel empowered to speak up conflict can stay bottled up and creativity will be stifled. They speak to three ways an individual can break the silence; recognize your power, act deviantly, and build a coalition. Each of these are important steps to take but the author does not address the importance how the business culture effects whether these steps will be successful. Each step here can be stopped in its tracks if the culture of your company doesn’t encourage communication or doesn’t have an intentional process for it. However, if the company culture does encourage speaking up these steps can help an individual thrive.
The next two articles, How to Become an Authentic Speaker by Nick Morgan and Telling Tales by Stephen Denning encourage speakers to be intentionally authentic in their speaking and utilize storytelling strategically in a message or presentation. Morgan’s focus is to help the reader see how “your intent” is crucial when you plan to be open with your audience, connect with your audience, passionate about your topic, and how you listen to your audience. These ‘intentions’ assist a communicator and will help them come across as authentic. Denning’s article helps to guide a leader to use the ‘power of narrative’ in a business setting. He cautions an individual to avoid using lengthy details that will make executives eye glaze over. The author takes an approach that storytelling can help bring alive certain situations and bring a creative flare to what might be otherwise boring data. Denning states, “Storytelling can translate those dryad n abstract numbers into compelling picture of a leaders goals” (2004, p. 118).
Elsbach’s article, How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea tends to focus more on the “catcher” than the “pitcher.” She suggests the catcher, those receiving the presentation, categorizes pitchers into showrunners (smooth and professional), artists (quirky and unpolished), and neophytes (inexperienced and naïve). The author suggests that each pitcher show encompass one of these three categories when the pitch something to their executives. It is hard to imagine that an executive would want, as this author titles, a neophyte pitching an idea. Inexperienced, naïve and ignorant are not necessarily the best quality traits for someone pitching a brilliant idea.
In The Five Messages Leaders Must Manage, Hamm challenges leaders with five messages that leaders should portray in order to avoid miscommunication. Hamm articulates how important a clear, focused vision can be. It will be communicated from a leader to those he/she manages will be impacted by; the organizational hierarchy, financial results, the leader’s understanding of his or her job, time management, and the corporate culture. When these messages can be communicated throughout the organization it forces top to bottom employees to unify and communicate the same thing together.
In the final article of the book, Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations, Weeks persuasively boils down stressful conversations to taking on three different forms; “I have bad news for you”, “What’s going on here”, “Your attacking me”. Weeks article acknowledges there are times, especially in conflict or stressful times, that how we react, what and how we speak, and our preparation will determine successful communication.
Overall, HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Communication is very beneficial in helping leaders to communication with more clarity and passion. I would recommend this book to not just business leaders but for anyone that is looking to better communication in their specific area. The principles in this book can be used and achieved in many different environments. One critique on this book would be to limit the articles on persuasion. The topic of communication is extremely important and widely written on. I would like to see topics in the ten articles be different from the each other.
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