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Conceptualizing communicative leadership: A framework for analysing and developing leaders’ communication competence

Catrin Johansson (Department of Media and Communication, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden)
Vernon D. Miller (Department of Communication and Department of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Solange Hamrin (Department of Media and Communication, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 1 April 2014




The concept of “communicative leadership” is used in organisations that analyse and develop leaders' communication competence. A scholarly definition of this concept is lacking, and the implications of leaders' communication and the development of communication competence for organisations are rarely discussed. The purpose of this paper is to create a theoretical framework around the concept of “communicative leadership”, which can contribute to future research and development of leaders' communication competence.


Three research questions were addressed: what communicative behaviours are central to leaders? How can “communicative leaders” be characterised? What is a “communicative leader”? Literature from the leadership and communication research fields was reviewed and related to these questions.


Four central communicative behaviours of leaders (i.e. structuring, facilitating, relating, and representing), eight principles of communicative leadership, and a tentative definition are presented. A communicative leader is defined as someone who engages employees in dialogue, actively shares and seeks feedback, practices participative decision making, and is perceived as open and involved.

Practical implications

A theoretical foundation to the practice of analysing and developing leaders' communication competence is provided, which is related to employee engagement and organisational performance.


Communicative leadership is a concept emerging from organisational needs, articulated by corporate and public organisation leaders. This article links its core constructs to academic quantitative and qualitative research in an integrated framework, which can guide further research and the development of leaders' communication competence.



This paper relates to the research project “Communicative Leadership – Analysis and Development of Core Competence”, funded by the Swedish Knowledge Foundation (Grant No. Dnr 2010-0226) and led by the first author between 2011 and 2013 at Mid Sweden University, DEMICOM · CORE, Department of Media and Communication, Sundsvall, Sweden.


Johansson, C., D. Miller, V. and Hamrin, S. (2014), "Conceptualizing communicative leadership: A framework for analysing and developing leaders’ communication competence", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 147-165.



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