Climate Control….or Managing Impact versus Intent

Posted on December 27, 2013 by


Leaders know the power of their ability to communicate.  With the knowledge of the power of communication, comes an appreciation for the need to manage it effectively.  While it is easy to focus primarily on the intent, saying what one means, it is equally important to manage communication for impact as well.  In managing the impact and intent of conversation, effective communicators are able to control the climate of their interactions with others.

Managing for Intent

When managing communication for intent, the leader is keen to ensure that a specific message is conveyed and received.  He or she will take great care to ensure that they clearly communicate their idea, feelings, expectations or instructions in a manner that is unambiguous.  They are not concerned with the impact of the communication, that is, how the recipient will feel as a result of the interaction.  This type of communication is common with those who exhibit a dictatorial or authoritarian leadership style.

Managing for Impact

Managing communications for impact is a different approach.  It is more focused on the recipient and less on the person speaking. The leader is sensitive to the emotional response to what is or will be said.  He or she will use this awareness to his or her advantage by adjusting the communication to either maximize or minimize the emotive impact. The intent is for the listener to carry away a “feeling” from the interaction that is more prominent than the words spoken. The inflections and intonation are used to create the desired emotion. Charismatic leaders tend to be very skilled at this as well as Machiavellian style leaders, who chose to lead through emotional control, fear, and intimidation.

Smart leaders are able to find a balance between the two styles, thus engaging in climate control. They know the power of communication and use it based on the context and content to be shared. Failure to understand impact versus intent can create miscommunication as well as engagement issues. As a leader, you must be aware to ensure that there is not a disconnect between what is being said and how it is said, otherwise the message will get lost because of the messenger.