Dits and Dahs: Leadership Code for Contemporary Communication
Updated: Jun 13
Sharing of information through symbols is a process of communication that pre-dates Western civilization and has evolved with the times. As early as the 1800s, American inventors like Samuel Morse examined the use of signs represented by dots and dashes or dits and dahs to create a practical means for exchanging information. While today's leaders share a code similar to great leaders of antiquity in empowering their members, the language used to convey meaning is very different. Thus- leaders unable to communicate effectively using technology weigh a heavy toll on the organization's sustainability.
With the increasing growth of technological platforms, business leaders must master a new language to prepare members for organizational transformation. Currently - the most innovative way to reach dynamism through goal achievement requires problem-solving across multiple platforms. Based on the evolution of Aristotelean principles, leaders for over two thousand years have mastered multi-facets of effective leadership using communication strategies. As a means of influence, the ability to transcend culture and connect with members on their level has become a more complex process. However, the benefits of using technology provide members new ways to feel heard. Research by experts in organizational culture Ken Hultman and Bill Gellerman support the consensus that organizations where members feel their needs are acknowledged positively impact their performance. In Commerce, the leader who solves complex business problems while simultaneously creating member-worth increases the overall valuation of the organization.
How does the leader's language create an organizational dialect?
In socially constructed societies, language is a cultural artifact the system. Over time, such systems either improve or reduce in their efficiency. By first diagnosing organizations using instruments like Cameron and Quinn's Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), the culture’s dialect is identified. While most seasoned leaders already possess institutional knowledge of the organization's history, they often do not understand how to use technology to transform culture. Through a shared understanding created over time by leaders and shaped by members, processes and norms create an intrinsic language that become the organization’s dialect. Dialect is the dominant organizational language. It is socially constructed through member-interactions and embedded as loops into the organization’s cycles. The cycle of a successful business becomes its code and runs concurrent to the cycle of its respective industry. Thus, technological considerations rely on the organization's position within the industry at a set point in time to measure its success. A leader with knowledge of their organization's cycles concerning the business sector can use technological communication to change the organizational dialect and subsequently bridge the industry gap.
How do leaders integrate their code into a technological language?
Depending on the industry, failing to plan in a technologically-driven world can often mean losing out on future opportunities. The leader's strategic preparation to remain relevant evidences the value of efficiency in an organization. As the architect and master linguist of the culture, the efficient leader understands what Stephen Denning discussed as the patterned approach to transformation. While any system that stimulates response and reinforces collective member action successfully achieves short-term objectives, the long-term organizational goals require a more complex strategic approach.
Understanding how to leverage technology to benefit the organization and its members requires distinct skills. Such capabilities are often acquired from genuine concern for the organization’s success. Thus- the leader’s use of technology is not an intrinsic trait and can either be learned through practice or instruction. Although younger leaders since the 1990s have grown using technology to communicate more efficiently, they often lack the life experience and maturity to assess context in real-world situations. In contrast, seasoned leaders with industry knowledge and the extraordinary ability to positively influence may lack the technical expertise to reach more than a few stakeholders .
By establishing technological acumen across the organization as a desired competency the leader creates inclusive opportunity for everyone. Collectively learning and sharing a new language to enhance the cultural dialect is recommended by leading scholars in group identity to recreate culture. The leader who values peace, equality, and justice, applies cultural competence to re-frame a member-narrative that raises the collective salience of the group surrounding an organization’s identity. While access to technological instruction and education was once limited to technical and engineering careers – today, countless courses are offered for free on-line and in the community. Despite the intimidating complexity technology may present to those unfamiliar with its inner workings, by championing the new social language of of time, leaders are at a strategic advantage to integrate their code and expand their reach.