Date of Award

Winter 1-22-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Clark White

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisbeth Johnson


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to describe the behaviors that exemplary elementary superintendents practice to lead their organizations through conversation using Groysberg and Slind’s (2012b) 4 elements of conversational leadership: intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality.

Methodology: The phenomenological qualitative inquiry method was used to describe the behaviors of 10 exemplary elementary superintendents in Southern California and their perspectives of lived events related to conversational leadership. The study combined semistructured interviews using an interview guide, observations, and artifact collection. These qualitative tools helped the researcher gain insight on study participants’ conversational leadership behaviors defined in the study’s purpose. The researcher analyzed data collected with the assistance of NVivo software to reveal patterns and sort these patterns into categories.

Findings: Examination of study participant interviews, observations, and artifacts resulted in 23 themes and 361 frequencies among the 4 elements of conversational literacy. Ten key findings were identified based on the frequency of references by study participants.

Conclusions: The 10 key findings were summarized as 4 conclusions, one for each conversational leadership element. Superintendents in this study stressed the importance of listening to stakeholders and using honest communication for building intimate, trusting relationships with stakeholders; creating cultures of nonjudgmental, open dialogue for increased two-way, interactive communication opportunities; including stakeholders through asking questions and creating common messages about organizational content; and creating clarity of organizational purpose through continuous messaging of the organization’s goals and direction.

Recommendations: Further research of leaders in private business and superintendents in geographic areas outside Southern California should be conducted.