Leadership as Social Influence: An Expanded View of Leadership Communication Theory and Practice

Brent D. Ruben, Ralph A. Gigliotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Communication is a topic frequently linked to leadership; however, the linkage often is limited to a view of communication as a tool to be employed by leaders in efforts to achieve particular purposes. The aim of this article is to provide a more expansive view of the communication process and its current and potential contributions to an understanding of leadership theory and dynamics. The article begins with an exploration of the ways that the study of communication intersects with the study of leadership itself, and then explores a number of communication concepts that are particularly important to the study and practice of leadership, but which have yet to be fully examined. As offered in this article, communication is considerably more than a leadership tool or strategy. Rather, it is an orientation, a world view, a way of understanding leadership that focuses more broadly on the process of social influence itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-479
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • communication
  • communication theory
  • leadership communication
  • leadership process
  • social influence


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