Two Key Messages

Two Key Messages

Every organization has a communication culture, one that is shaped and reinforced by the people within the organization, especially the leaders.

In his seminal work On Leadership, John Gardner identifies two key messages critical for healthy communication in organizations.

Two key messages should be implicit:
(1) “You will know what’s going on,” and (2) “Your voice will be heard.”

To feel valued and safe at work, people want to be informed, especially about changes that directly affect them, but also about other things. Information equals power, and it also equals security and a sense of belonging.

But people also need to feel that they have a audience for their thoughts, feelings, and opinions at work. People long to be listened to and to feel that their input is valuable within the organization.

Gardner says that the larger and more complex the organization, the greater the challenge in creating a culture that expresses these two key messages effectively.

Effective leaders incorporate a plan for communication within their organizations. They have a process for sharing important changes and decisions with their employees. They listen to people’s ideas and feedback.

No matter who you are or where you work, you can improve the culture you live in by making sure people know what’s going on. Keep the people around you informed as much as you can. Share what you know. As you do that, take the time to listen to what others think and feel.

Creating a healthy organizational culture can start with you, today.

Join the conversation!

What do you do to keep people informed in your organization?

What do you to to help people feel heard?


This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is reposted with permission. 

Filed As:  communication, information

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Great post, Becky! I saved Gardner’s book from the MSSL program (in 2004, eep!) because the messages within are valuable in so many different situations.

  • Andra,
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing a comment. I appreciate all you do… bringing some great students into our programs and supporting their success.
    I keep Gardner’s book close on my shelf too, because it has some timeless leadership lessons. What was your favorite book from your MSSL program?

  • Good morning! My pleasure and thanks for your kind words!
    I enjoyed Gardner’s book along with Bennis’ On Becoming a Leader and the Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership.
    One of my favorite lessons from Bennis’ work (and a quote I’ve used when discussing both our OL and SL programs, is a “manager does things right; the leader does the right thing…” This reminds us as leaders (and followers!) to consider the knowledge, however gained, by those around us to learn and grow.
    With the Contrarian’s Guide, I felt relieved to see the idea, in print, that leaders should see from the perspective of their followers as well as their own. This constant learning cycle reinforces the bonds we create, the paths we choose, and the route we utilize to complete those paths.
    Eep, one more….Kouzes & Posner’s Leadership Challenge. While often we studied various models of leadership, management, teachers, etc. in our undegraduate work, this book listed 5 practices of ‘exemplary leadership.’ These steps aren’t something I felt I or my classmates simply read and regurgitated in our projects/papers. They reinforced what many of us knew and wanted to be ‘right,’ (even if we didn’t know we knew!).
    This book reminds us to never forget the human factor as the focus of our leadership roles.
    Heh, okay…you asked for one. I’m only human! I had more than one favorite! 😀

  • Haven’t gotten around to digesting Gardner yet. It’s a great point. Kind of wish any of the plethora of political leaders who call for transparency had read it.

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