One of the problems with much that has been written about leadership and communication is that too much has been focused on telling the rest of the organization what the leader wants to do and helping to persuade the organization that resistance to change is a bad idea. This is only part of what is required. In order to build the leader–follower relationship, time and energy must be invested so that fears, concerns, and doubts can be expressed, alternative viewpoints can be discussed, and challenges to the vision can be articulated.
Most change initiatives fail because they do not consider the emotional aspects associated with change, and trustworthy leadership that communicates well can be an important antidote to counteract that obstacle to change. Indeed, noted author and change guru John Kotter argues that it is important to understand what people are feeling and to speak more directly to their anxieties, confusion, anger, and distrust. 1
Interestingly, recent research reveals that the more communication that goes on between executives, the more trustworthy the communicators view each other to be. In a study of 50 senior managers within a multinational firm, it was reported that those executives who communicated more often were more likely to view others in the organization as more trustworthy. 2 Perhaps this is why interactive communication forums such as town hall meetings, online blogs, and two-way video sessions are becoming staples of organizational life.