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5 Takeaways!

After reading and analyzing Ruben and Gigilotti’s Leadership, Communication, and Social Influence : A Theory of Resonance, Activation, and Cultivation (I know, long name, right), there are 5 key takeaway points worth mentioning.

Before we dive into the 5 key takeaways, the book is organized into the following sections:

  • Defining Leadership and Communication

  • Foundational Principles

  • The Role of Resonance Activation and Cultivation

  • Application

  • What’s Next?

The book is sectioned off to help us first understand how leadership is connected to everything around us (which will coincide with a takeaway later) and to define and give some kudos to being a follower. The appreciation for followership in this text is one you don’t see quite often. When you Google “Leadership,” pages upon pages of how to be a leader appears. Followership is a term you must do a little bit of digging to get some clarity. Luckily, Ruben and Gigliotti shed some light about the leadership and followership working together. The text also uses resonance, cultivation and activation to describe the complex nature of leadership and followership.

Let’s take a look at the 5 key takeaways:

1. Leadership and communication intersect on all sectors

Ruben and Gigliotti mentioned, “Leadership and communication are both regarded as vitally important across contexts, including, but not limited to, politics, business, sports, health, education, religion, and the military. Our focus is on the way leadership dynamics are described and understood, and the way those understandings are translated into practice across contexts and at multiple levels, from small, informal work groups to the complex interactions that occur on the national and international stages” (p. 1). You can’t have leadership without communication and vice versa. No matter the sector you are a part of, leadership will be present. Whether we realize it or not, we live in a social construct and there will always be leadership. How we choose to communicate within the social construct reflects how we maneuver with one another.

Sometimes leadership communication is direct and noticeable and other times not so much. Leaders should want to make their communication efforts clear and concise, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen that way.

2. It’s important to understand the basics of the leadership and followership dynamic to better acknowledge the communication process

Leadership and followership can be misunderstood; especially followership. Leaders and followers must work jointly together for success within a sector. A person can go back and forth between being a leader and follower, which in most cases can provide multiple perspectives for communication.

It’s important to note that followership is more than just “following a leader’s command” (or at least it should be more). It’s also important that leaders provide their followers with resources to be as successful as they can be.

3. Followers/Followership behavior plays just as an important role as leadership when shaping social influence

Despite leaders assuming the role as someone with total power (Ruben & Gigliotti, 2019), followership gives power to those with other perspectives. As far as followership, “as much as it is important to exercise caution in glamorizing the leader’ s role in social influence, we must be equally cautious in avoiding the pejorative connotation that marginalizes or diminishes the role of followers or followership behaviors in shaping leadership outcomes. Followers whether described as collaborators, colleagues, team or group members, stakeholders, or some other labels play an indispensable and easily undervalued role in shaping the outcomes that occur in interactions with those who are regarded as formal or informal leaders in any setting” (Ruben & Gigliotti, 2019 p. 7). Whether you have the formal title of a leader or not, you still have values and beliefs worth sharing that could make a huge impact.

4. It is a choice to engage in leadership and/or followership

It can be hard to hear, but no matter what we do, it is a choice. It is a choice to be a leader, and it is a choice to be a follower.

It is the belief that leaders are supposed to guide and support their followers to make a change. If they do it right, there may not be resistance from the followers (not always the case). It takes commitment to become a leader, but also a follower.

5. When considering change, evaluate and broaden zones of resonance so different perspectives are heard and considered

Everyone has an opinion, right? No matter the circumstance, we all have opinions about something. When considering change, broadening the zone of resonance creates a seat at the table for a positive social influence (or so we assume).

The importance of broadening the zones helps direct leaders to focus on their followers and others involved in the change. The leader may have a clear objective they want to get across. Sometimes resistance can be an issue if different perspectives aren’t heard or considered.


I know this was quick but thank you for reading the 5 key takeaways! I hope you learned something!

Leadership can be complex depending on who you ask but this text breaks down how leadership and communication coincide with social influence.

If you’re more of a visual person, please refer to the video provided.


Ruben, B. D., & Gigliotti, R. A. (2019). Leadership, communication, and social influence. A

theory of resonance, activation, and cultivation. Emerald Publishing.

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