Communication, Leadership, and Job Satisfaction: Perspectives on Supervisor-Subordinate Relationships

Kathleen Czech, G. L. Forward


In an era when leadership is much studied and little understood (Tourish & Barge, 2010), and when job satisfaction has reached an all-time low (Gibbons, 2010), investigating factors that contribute to job and relationship satisfaction, as well as more effective leadership, becomes a critical task. This project asked 154 people employed fulltime to evaluate their work supervisor in terms of specific communication behaviors, perceived leader effectiveness, and their own levels of relational and job satisfaction. Gibb’s (1961) theory of supportive and defensive communication provided the conceptual lens used to explicate the impact of communication behaviors on specific personal and organizational outcomes. Statistical analysis highlighted the discursive nature of workplace interaction by uncovering strong, predictive relationships between the positive behaviors of spontaneity and empathy and worker perceptions of supervisor effectiveness, relational satisfaction, and employee job satisfaction. Likewise, perceptions of supervisor leadership style are instantiated in these same communication behaviors suggesting that leadership is indeed a communication phenomenon. Last, t-tests revealed that supervisors rated higher in effectiveness and higher in relational satisfaction utilized all six of Gibb’s supportive communication behaviors more, and all six defensive behaviors less, than their more negatively evaluated peers.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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