Top-down communication

Top-down communication

When information flows from the ‘top layer’ of a company downwards. For example, CEO to frontline workers. This is also known as hierarchical communication.

Top down approach to strategic communications: is there any other choice?

The full and original article was published on Purdue by Mike Kohler

A top down approach in communication is not a bad thing; it’s an essential thing. And effectiveness is a matter of how authentic and thorough the leader is in cascading the information. (By the way, the accountability gap at the top ranks is the biggest detriment to effective cascading – but that’s a subject for another day. While employees value empowerment and autonomy, they also are realistic in their understanding that those attributes are bestowed upon them through a hierarchical power structure. To put it another way, they’re not naïve. They know the “law of the jungle.”

Greenleaf’s teaching seems to reinforce the “softness” of so-called soft skills. He describes a servant leader as “sharply different from one who is leader-first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.” Sure, we all know, or know of, powerful leaders who seem to fit this description. But it’s not true of all successful leaders. Adam Grant’s Give and Take shares lots of examples of how “nice guys” can and do finish first.

More to the point, however, is the impression that seemingly benign servant leaders are kinder, gentler leaders who are motivated by moral good, and that may be true. I would suggest that servant leaders also understand the leverage that comes from empowering employees. Servant leaders may be kind and caring, but we can catch them winking on the side as their healthier, happier employees deliver positive results to the organization’s bottom line, thus enhancing their positions of power.

Credit: The full and original article was published on Purdue by Mike Kohler

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