Messengers convey messages from one part of the system to another, and also have a particular role in conveying messages out of the system to the world beyond. Messengers represent the communicative aspect of a system, the way in which both explicitly and implicitly a system communicates ‘this is what this system is about.’
In an organisation messenger principle includes areas like (internal and external) communication, PR and branding. It is important to recognise that part of the messenger function in this case may be conscious but much of it is also unconscious or unintended. This takes us to the world of spin and the question of authenticity in leadership and organisations. For example a company may spend lots of money developing a new brand, a visual identity, and a new statement of corporate values and vision. All of these are conscious messenger functions – they communicate something of ‘how things are here and what this system is about’.
Messengers and integrity of communication:
However, also important are the actual behaviours of everyone in the company and particularly senior figures who are close to the centre and thus naturally influence the whole system more readily. Organisation cultures emerge as much through hearsay, anecdote and personal experience as through conscious, formal channels. Thus if conflicting messages are circulating in the system (for example if the website shows lots of happy people, but the atmosphere is depressed and resentful) this serves to undermine the centre. Or more specifically, in such a case this probably tells us something quite real about the centre. It suggests that the organisation or its senior leadership is not well aligned, or is confused and conflicted in terms of its essential purposes and intentions. This is quite common both in organisations and at the personal level. Individually we tend to communicate different things, because we ourselves are complex and often experience some conflict between different purposes. One implication of messenger principle is to pay great attention to clarity of centre. Another is to really trust that through the ripple and other principles this clarity and integrity will naturally radiate out more widely. This is perhaps a harder way to develop communications, but ultimately a more cohesive and impactful one.
When working on our own individual speech and communication, messenger principle reminds us that in the end what we truly communicate out to the world is something about the whole of who we are, and particularly where we are centred. While many programmes and courses can give us tips and tricks to look and act the part, messenger principle works at a deeper level suggesting that overall communication will be a natural expression of the inner truth of our own personal system.