Strategic Communication  

“Vision, Passion, and Care:” The Impact of Charismatic Executive Leadership Communication on Employee Trust and Support for Organizational Change

Change, particularly organizational change, can be difficult for many people. By supporting change through positive leadership communication practices, employees are more apt to be open to supporting that change. This brings with it a wealth of potential for positive and productive business practices.

Despite the crucial role of executive leadership communication during change, knowledge on how to conduct such leadership communication is lacking. University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Public Relations Associate Professor Rita Men, with doctoral student April Yue and Dr. Yonghong Liu from the University of North Carolina, wanted to explore how charismatic executive leadership communication could nurture employee trust, thus positively affect employee reactions to change.

Charismatic executive leadership communication is defined by three behavioral dimensions: envisioning (communication about vision), energizing (communication about passion), and enabling (communication about care and support).

The study suggests that employee trust can lead to a positive reaction to change, an openness to change, and, perhaps most importantly, behavioral support for that change.

Results showed that charismatic executive leadership communication, featured by executive leaders’ envisioning, energizing, and enabling change communication behaviors, largely contributed to employee’s positive reactions to change, both in terms of openness to change and in behavioral change. When leaders communicate a compelling vision for change, express excitement, passion, and confidence about change, and exhibit care, emotional support, and empathy surrounding change, this leads to behavioral support from employees.

Results also demonstrate that trust in leadership is a key factor in how employees respond to change. Trust takes time and consistency to build, so a relationship-oriented, intentional communication strategy is necessary for ultimate positive results in leading a team or organization through any sort of institutional change.

The original research paper,Vision, Passion, and Care:’ The Impact of Charismatic Executive Leadership Communication on Employee Trust and Support for Organizational Change,” appeared in Public Relations Review, 17 May 2020.

Authors: Linjuan Rita Men, University of Florida; Cen “April” Yue, University of Florida; Yonghong Liu, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

 This summary was written by Marie Morganelli, Ph.D.

Posted: October 21, 2020
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