This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.

Leaders rely on communicative acts to convey strategic objectives to their followers. Effective communication from leaders significantly impacts employees’ motivation and the overall health of the organization. Drawing from motivating language theory, this study examines how leaders’ oral communication strategies affect organizational authenticity (i.e., the level of truthfulness, transparency, and consistency employees feel about their organization) and organizational identification. Ultimately, this study focused on understanding whether and how leaders’ motivating language can engender employee advocacy behaviors (i.e., verbal and nonverbal behaviors voluntarily initiated to promote or defend one’s organization). As advocacy behaviors contribute to an organization’s financial performance and effectiveness and have been considered the ultimate test of employee-organization relationships, understanding its antecedents is critical.

An online survey of 482 participants was conducted. Almost three out of five (57.9%) participants were female, and 42.1% were male. Their average age was 43 years, and most participants had at least some college education (72%). Over half were in non-management positions (52.7%), 22.8% in middle management, 18.7% in lower management, and 5.8% in upper management roles.

Key Findings
1.) When leaders use motivating language, employees are more likely to find the organization to be authentic.
— An increase in perceived organizational authenticity positively impacts how strongly employees identify with their organization and subsequently advocate for the organization.
2.) The connection between motivating language and employee advocacy was not direct – the study found that for this connection to occur, the motivating language must, in itself, increase organizational identification (or how strongly the employee identifies with the organization) to increase the chances that the employee will engage in advocacy behaviors.
3.) When leaders utilize motivating language in a way that increases perceptions of organizational authenticity and employee’s identification with the organization, employee advocacy behaviors are more likely to occur.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should 1.) develop programs that will train leaders to leverage and maximize the use of motivating language when communicating with subordinates, 2.) pay more attention to the psychological state of their subordinates to better understand their beliefs and psychological attachment to the organization, and 3.) develop real-time listening tools to gather employees- feedback and address their concerns.

Yue, C. A. (2021). Creating Organizational Authenticity and Identification: Effect of Leaders’ Motivating Language and Impact on Employee Advocacy. International Journal of Business Communication.

Location of Article
This article is available online here.
(abstract free, purchase full article).

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