Reader Question: Communication Effectivenness

I was recently asked by a reader in Africa: What are some typical communication problems that occur in organizations? What can we do to overcome them?

This is a cool question since in our research the number one quoted problem with leadership relates to ineffective communication or a general lack of communication.

Communication gaps

So here are 8 possible gaps you might encounter. (Certainly there are others, these came to mind.) Also included are some tactical actions that can be taken to overcome them.


1. Different expectations. Leaders often have higher level expectations of their followers consistent with their own perspective. Followers tend to look at the world from a more tactical level. Result crossed expectations that do not match.

2. Noise in the communication process: Despite our best efforts physical noise can distort our ability to receive a message.

3. Ladder of inference: The meaning behind what is said and done may be assigned different meaning than what was actually intended leading to misunderstanding.

4. Competing priorities: Followers may have different agendas than their leader and hence may not follow the direction given.

5. Language barriers: Multiple languages and working in a second language than a first may lead to misunderstandings in meaning.

6. Intentional miscommunication: When a lack of integrity is present between either party a message can be purposely misunderstood.

7. Political instability: A follower who has motives to purposely undermine their leader can purposely misunderstand.

8. Capacity: A follower may have a limitation in cognitive ability or other limitation that limits their ability to hear and comprehend the message.

Ways to address miscommunication

1. Seek feedback: Always check for understanding

2. When sharing a message be certain to feature benefits in the message to the listener

3. Ensure that you have gained the attention of the audience before sharing the message

4. Ensure the language used matches the abilities of the audience to hear and understand what is being shared

5. Develop relationships with the audience members over the long term this helps them to want to listen

6. Listen to followers proactively. This will also open them to listening to you

7. Learn about the impact of perceptual position and change the way you communicate to overcome associated limitations

Next Steps

We here at Developing Leaders have training modules available for each of these solutions. If you would like to learn more about these contact us through the website or Ron directly at

lead and communicate well


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