Topic: Supervisor Leadership, Communication Competence and Employee Satisfaction

Author(s), Title and Publication

Madlock, P. E. (2008). The Link Between Leadership Style, Communicator Competence, and Employee Satisfaction. Journal of Business Communication, 45(1), 61-78.


This study examined the impact of a supervisor’s communication competence and leadership style on employee satisfaction. A survey was conducted with 220 employees working full-time for a variety of companies in the Midwest; 112 of the employees worked for a female supervisor, while 108 worked for a male supervisor. The survey measured supervisor leadership variables (communicator competence, relational leadership style, and task leadership style), and employee outcome variables (communication satisfaction and job satisfaction).

The results indicated that supervisors’ communication competence was the greatest predictor of employee satisfaction. Competence includes effective listening and interpersonal communication skills. Specifically, supervisor communicator competence accounted for 68% of the variance in employee communication satisfaction, and nearly 18% of the variance in employee job satisfaction. A relational leadership style was also found to positively influence employee communication satisfaction, but not employee job satisfaction. A task leadership style was not found to be significant predictor of either employee communication satisfaction or job satisfaction. Both supervisor relational and task leadership styles were positively related to supervisor communicator competence, and they accounted for 59% of the variance in communicator competence. Relational leadership style, or a more personal and inclusive style, was a greater predictor of communicator competence than was task leadership style.

Implications for Practice

Communicators should understand the strong effect of communication competence on employees’ perceptions of their supervisors and jobs. To enhance employees’ satisfaction and foster better performance, supervisors should improve interpersonal communication skills, communicate with employees effectively, and exhibit more relational-oriented behaviors. Supervisors can likely benefit from communication skills training. Assigning specific communication accountabilities to supervisors also may be important.

Location of 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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