Carol Orsag Madigan
Understanding your personal communication style — and tailoring your messages to
ensure that co-workers get the true meaning — can help you avoid serious
Controllers can tear a page from Lee Iacocca's autobiography for some sound advice on the
importance of being a good communicator. Iacocca wrote, “In addition to being decision makers,
managers also have to be motivators .
.. The only way you can motivate people is to communicate
with them .
.. It's important to talk to people in their own language. If you do it well, they'll say 'God,
he said exactly what I was thinking.' And when they begin to respect you, they'll follow you to the
death.”Iacocca heeded his own words. On the day he took over the reins at Chrysler Corporation, the
company announced the largest deficit in its history. After an internal reorganization, Iacocca headed
to Capitol Hill where he convinced a highly skeptical Congress to grant Chrysler $1.5 billion in
federal loan guarantees. Then he appeared in television ads geared to pull American consumers into
Chrysler showrooms. (“If you buy a car without considering Chrysler, that'll be bad — for both of
us.”) All the ingredients of Chrysler's successful turnaround had a common thread — a bold plan
delivered by a highly effective messenger.
When it comes to communication, Controllers have traditionally been asked to analyze and explain.
However, the increasingly global marketplace, with its emphasis on team building and the sharing of
knowledge, requires sharpening an additional set of skills. As integral members of the management
team, financial managers need to be able to teach, to persuade, to motivate and to delegate. It's
estimated that today's managers can spend as much as 90 percent of their time communicating. It's
also estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent of all management problems are a result of poor
Behavioral Style Determines Communication Style
When you, the speaker, change your thoughts into words, what you say and how you say it are
determined by your behavioral style. Your particular style — choice of words, tone of voice, body
language — is a set of habits that automatically come into play when you are in an interactive
situation. Those habits are a result of a host of factors including your education, cultural background,
social values and beliefs, prejudices, and work experience.
The receiver of your message hears your words and converts them back into thoughts. If the receiver
has a different style, your message has a good chance of being distorted because the message is being
filtered through a different set of behavioral criteria.
The key element to positive and productive communications is modifying your style so you and the