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University of Oklahoma

[COMM 5373] Communication and Leadership - 101

Ryan Bisel

Course Description

Communication and Leadership


This advanced survey course is designed to expose students to communication principles that hold particular importance to an understanding of leadership. The course emphasizes recent research advancements in organizational communication studies. Topics for the course include an investigation of power and influence tactics, upward and downward communication, leader-member exchange, framing, conversation, and sensemaking.

Course Dates

DatesJuly 29-August 7
Last day to enroll or drop without penaltyJune 30, 2022

Site Director

This is a three-credit hour online course. Please see your local Site Director or email our online site coordinator at

Professor Contact Information

Course ProfessorRyan S. Bisel, Ph.D.
Mailing AddressDepartment of Communication, Burton Hall, #224, Norman, OK 73019
Telephone Number(405) 325-6042
Professor availabilityThe professor will be available via email to students before and after the class sessions. On-site office hours are half an hour before and after each class session, by appointment.

Textbook(s) and Instructional Materials

Student materials are available at the OU Bookstore Website at The website has book selling, renting, buying, returning, and order tracking capabilities. If you need help with an order, or if you have any questions contact the toll-free phone at 1-(855)-790-6637, agents are available from 9a – 5p (EST) Monday – Friday. Text prices are available online.


Additional materials posted on the OU Canvas learning management system: Access Canvas at, enter your OU NetID and password, and select course to access material. If you require assistance with Canvas, please click on the Help icon. You can search the Canvas guides, chat with Canvas support, or contact OU IT. 

The Power of Framing : Challenging the Language of Leadership
The Power of Framing : Challenging the Language of Leadership
by Fairhurst, Gail T.
Published by Wiley
ISBN: 9780470494523
Power and Interdependence in Organizations
Power and Interdependence in Organizations
by Tjosvold
Published by Cambridge Univ Pr
ISBN: 9780521703284
Managing the Unexpected
Managing the Unexpected
by Weick, Karl E., Sutcliffe, Kathleen M.
Published by Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John
ISBN: 9781118862414

OU Email

All official correspondence from instructors will be sent only to students’ address.


Email Account and Canvas: Students are expected to check their OU email accounts and the course site on Canvas daily for updates from the instructor


Course Objectives

At the conclusion of the course, students will (a) have developed a thorough understanding of the importance of communication in leadership practice, (b) be familiar with several contemporary theories in the field of organizational communication and leadership, (c) recognize how their own communication can influence the effectiveness of their organization, and (d) have developed a training session for some skill related to contemporary leadership communication research.

Course Outline





Introducing the Course



Power and Influence Tactics

Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory and Leadership Sharing

Tjosvold & Wisse, 2009: Ch. 1, 12, 13; Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Rahim et al., 2001

Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995; Tjosvold & Wisse, 2009: Ch. 6; Kramer, 2006; Seo et al., 2017


Upward Feedback

Downward Feedback

Milliken, Morrison & Hewlin, 2003; Morrison & Milliken, 2000; Ploeger et al., 2011; Bisel & Arterburn, 2012; Zanin et al., 2016

Bradley & Campbell, 2016; Argyris, 2000; Yariv, 2006;


Framing and Leadership

Fairhurst, 2011: Ch. 1-4, 7; Fairhurst & Sarr, 1996 (Ch. 5); Allan, Gordon, & Iverson, 2006


Appreciative Inquiry and Change

Mindfulness and Soulfulness

Barge & Oliver, 2003; Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2003

Weick & Sutcliffe, 2007: Ch. 1, 2, 6, 7; Brown & Starkey, 2000





Training Session Proposal Due



Note: Bolded works should be read prior to class. Works listed, but not bolded, may help to inform short-write essays or expand your understanding.

Assignments, Grading and Due Dates

Class Participation:

Students are expected to participate in all class discussions. Effective participation is judged by the informed comments provided by students as well as by the intelligence and insight advanced by the questions and issues that students develop from readings.


Communication Failures Journal:

Students will identify and analyze two workplace communication failures they committed.


Short Writes:

In order to encourage active analysis and discussion of class readings, students will choose any three questions from the “Short-Write Question Prompts” to answer in 2 page, provocative, and insightful essays. Each essay will also conclude with a meaningful question for class discussion.



A comprehensive exam will be administered. Essay questions will be derived from readings, lectures, and class discussion. Students will write for four hours and are expected to cite relevant authorities. Exam is closed-book.


Training Session.

Students will propose a leadership communication training session in which they create (a) a heuristic that distills the relevant literature into a list of best practices for some trainable leadership communication skill, and (b) a realistic and authentic method for training a communication leadership behavior quickly and effectively. 


This is a letter-graded course: A, B, C, D, or F.


Point Distribution and Due Dates of Graded Assignments:

Assignment Percent of Grade Due Date
Comm. Failures Journal (2) 5% each = 10% Throughout
Short Writes (3) 10% each = 30% Throughout
Exam 30% August 7, 2022
Training Session 30% August 14, 2022

Incomplete Grade Policy

Notice: Failure to meet assignment due dates could result in a grade of I (Incomplete) and may adversely impact Tuition Assistance and/or Financial Aid.

Technical Support Information

If you experience technical problems, contact Information Technology by visiting their website at: or contacting them by telephone at: (405) 325-HELP (4357).


Materials posted on the OU CANVAS system:

Access CANVAS at; enter your OU NetID (4+4) and password, and select course to access the material.


Procedures for Completion of Course Evaluation: 

Upon completion of the course students should go to the Advanced Programs Online Learning Information webpage and click on the applicable semester link under “Online Course Evaluation” which will direct them to the evaluation.  The evaluation will take approximately five minutes to complete.  Completion of the online evaluation is an important tool allowing Advanced Programs to gain information and student feedback for improvement of courses.

Your responses will be kept confidential.  They will be reviewed by the department and only supplied to the professor once grades for the course have been submitted.


Materials posted on the OU CANVAS system:

Access CANVAS at; enter your OU NetID (4+4) and password, and select course to access material. Please contact your local the IT Help desk at 405-325-HELP if you require assistance.  IT is available 24/7

Statement about the MHR Program Planner and Human Relations Website

Students should become familiar with the MHR Program Planner that was sent to each student upon admission into the program.  The planner has a description of the HR program objectives and requirements, suggestions for graduate study, financial assistance, and graduation information. Of particular interest is the information on the comprehensive exams and the internship.  For further information please visit the Department of Human Relations Website at:

Reasonable Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to providing reasonable accommodation for all students with disabilities.  Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational opportunities.  Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services prior to receiving accommodations in this course.  The Office of Disability Services is located in Goddard Health Center, Suite 166, phone 405-325-3852 or TDD only 405-325-4173. For more information please see the Disability Resource Center website


Civility/Inclusivity Statement:

We understand our members represent a rich variety of backgrounds and perspectives. The Human Relations Department is committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity. While working together to build this community we ask all members to:

  • share their unique experiences, values and beliefs
  • be open to the views of others
  • honor the uniqueness of their colleagues
  • appreciate the opportunity we have to learn from each other in this community
  • value each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner
  • keep confidential discussions the community has of a personal (or professional) nature
  • use this opportunity together to discuss ways in which we can create an inclusive environment in this course and across the University of Oklahoma community.

Religious Holidays

It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without a penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays, without penalty.


Attendance/Grade Policy

Attendance and participation in interaction, individual assignments, group exercises, simulations, role playing, etc. are valuable aspects of any course because much of the learning comes from discussions in class with other students. It is expected that you attend all classes and be on time except for excused emergencies.

Excused absences are given for professor mandated activities or legally required activities such as emergencies or military assignments. It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. Unavoidable personal emergencies, including (but not limited to) serious illness; delays in getting to class because of accidents, etc.; deaths and funerals, and hazardous road conditions will be excused.

If you are obtaining financial assistance (TA, STAP, FA, VA, Scholarship, etc.) to pay all or part of your tuition cost, you must follow your funding agency/institution’s policy regarding “I” (Incomplete) grades unless the timeline is longer than what the University policy allows then you must adhere to the University policy. Students who receive Financial Aid must resolve/complete any “I” (Incomplete) grades by the end of the term or he/she may be placed on “financial aid probation.” If the “I” grade is not resolved/completed by the end of the following term, the student’s Financial Aid may be suspended make the student ineligible for further Financial Aid.

Students are responsible for meeting the guidelines of Tuition Assistance and Veterans Assistance. See the education counselor at your local education center for a complete description of your TA or VA requirements.

OU faculty will submit grades online through ONE not later than 30 days after the course end date. Course end dates are approximately one calendar month after the final seminar date on this syllabus and are provided on the official scheduling website for reference.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct 

Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.

Academic misconduct is any act which improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement. Misconduct occurs when the student either knows or reasonably should know that the act constitutes misconduct. Academic misconduct includes: cheating and using unauthorized materials on examinations and other assignments; improper collaboration, submitting the same assignment for different classes (self-plagiarism); fabrication, forgery, alteration of documents, lying, etc…in order to obtain an academic advantage; assisting others in academic misconduct; attempting to commit academic misconduct; destruction of property, hacking, etc…; intimidation and interference with integrity process; and plagiarism. All students should review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at 

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. All students should review policies regarding student conduct at 

Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to making its activities as accessible as possible. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please contact your local OU Site Director.

Adjustment for Pregnancy/Childbirth-Related Issues

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see

Title IX Resources

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no-contact orders, scheduling adjustments, and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at or (405) 325-2215 (8-5), or the Sexual Assault Response Team at (405) 615 -0013 (24/7) to report an incident. To learn more about Title IX, please visit the Institutional Equity Office’s website at 

Course Policies

Extended Campus (also and formerly known as Advanced Programs) policy is to order books in paperback if available. Courses, dates, and professors are subject to change. Please check with your OU Site Director. Students should retain a copy of any assignments that are e/mailed to the professor for the course. Neither duplicating services nor office supplies are provided.

Any and all course materials, syllabus, lessons, lectures, etc. are the property of professor teaching the course and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and are protected under applicable copyright.

For more information about OU Extended Campus, visit our website at:

Statement on Respect

The classroom should provide a safe learning environment where students can express their views without fear of reprisal. That freedom of expression must be balanced by demonstrated respect for other’s viewpoints and appropriate and reasonable sensitivity, especially within the context of scholarly disagreement.  Disrespectful or uncivil dialogue (including, but not limited to, personal attacks, insults, or harassment) will not be tolerated.

Recording Devices/Phones/Computers

It is important for students to be fully present during class to fully benefit from lectures, discussions, and experiential assignments. Class sessions may not be tape-recorded. All telephones and pagers should be turned off or placed on silent mode. Computers may not be used during class. Students who require an exception to this policy should discuss exceptional circumstances with the professor.


Ryan S. Bisel, Ph.D.


  • D. Organizational Communication, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS
  • A. Organizational Communication, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • A. Organizational Communication, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO


Current Positions

  • Professor, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
  • Advanced Programs professor since 2009


Frequently Taught Extended Campus Courses

  • 5043 Organizational Research Practicum
  • 5053 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • 5313 Qualitative Research Methods
  • 5333 Organizational Communication
  • 5373 Communication and Leadership
  • 6233 Small Group Processes


Major Areas of Teaching and Research Interest

  • Bisel’s research interests focus primarily on supervisor-subordinate communication, organizational discourse, and organizational culture change.
  • Bisel’s 2018 book, “Organizational Moral Learning: A Communication Approach,” was awarded Book of the Year Awards from two National Communication Association Divisions.
  • Bisel’s co-authored a textbook on organizational communication: “Organizational Communication: A Lifespan Approach” (Oxford University Press)
  • Bisel has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters.
  • Professor Bisel has worked as a process consultant and facilitator for more than 20 different organizations, such as Sorb Technologies Fresenius Medical Care; Children’s Hospital Foundation; Douglas County Visiting Nurses and Hospice, National Weather Association, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, and the Kansas Health Foundation.


Representative Publications:

Bisel, R. S. (2018). Organizational Moral Learning: A Communication Approach. New York: Routledge.

Bisel, R. S., & Adame, E. A. (2019). Encouraging upward ethical dissent in organizations: The role of deference to embodied expertise. Management Communication Quarterly, 33, 139-159.

Bisel, R. S., Kramer, M. W., & Banas, J. A. (2017). Scaling up to institutional entrepreneurship: A life history of an elite training gymnastics organization. Human Relations, 70, 410-435.

Zanin, A. C., Bisel, R. S., & Adame, E. N. (2016). Supervisor moral talk contagion and trust-in-supervisor: Mitigating the workplace moral mum effect. Management Communication Quarterly, 30, 147-163

Bisel, R. S., Messersmith, A. S., & Kelley, K. M. (2012). Supervisor-subordinate communication: Hierarchical mum effect meets organizational learning. Journal of Business Communication, 49, 128-147.

Bisel, R. S., Kelley, K. M., Ploeger, N. A., & Messersmith, J. (2011). Workers’ moral mum effect: On facework and organizational ethics. Communication Studies, 62, 153-170.

Bisel, R. S., & Barge, J. K. (2011). Discursive positioning and planned change in organizations. Human Relations, 64, 257-283.