Author(s), Title and Publication

Jian, G., & Dalisay, F. (2017). Conversation at work: The effects of leader-member conversational quality. Communication Research, 44(2), 177-197. DOI: 10.1177/0093650214565924


Conversation is an undoubtedly, an important component of leadership; this study explores the relationship between leadership conversation practices, their quality and their impact on organizational outcomes. Quality conversations between leaders and organizational members are asserted as a predictor to organizational commitment.

An online survey of 209 participants, employed at various organizations indicated that employees’ organizational commitment is increased when they feel they have high-quality relationships and conversations with their leader. These high-quality leadership relationships are characterized by high trust, high support, employee input, leader feedback, and a people-centric approach. Employees additionally point to frequency, agreement, and acceptance as distinct leadership behaviors that not only characterize high-quality conversations, but that also work to minimize perceptions of power and control. Ultimately, the strategic choice to exceed employees’ typical expectations of trust, and support, as well as inviting their input on decisions, coupled with above and beyond communication regularity, sends a message of quality to employees, and boosts individual job satisfaction, work outcomes and overall commitment to the organization. There is also evidence to support employees appreciate relationship building as a process. Employees whose leaders demonstrate clear and consistent effort to build employee relationships along with the desire to engage in frequent and quality conversation, report increased organizational commitment.

Implications for Practice

These results suggest leaders should consider: (1) being mindful in their everyday conversations with employees, (2) engaging in more frequent conversations with their team members, and lastly, (3) developing conversational skills, all of which may help foster more productive working relationships, and employee commitment.

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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