Date of Award

Winter 2-27-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Clark White

Second Advisor

Dr. Suzette Lovely

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas DeVore


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to describe the behaviors that exemplary educational services assistant superintendents practice to lead their organizations through conversation as depicted by Groysberg and Slind’s (2012b) 4 elements of conversational leadership: intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality. Methodology: A qualitative, phenomenological approach was used in this study in order to describe the lived experiences and behaviors of exemplary leaders. The target population was educational services assistant superintendents in Southern California. Participants were selected using a purposeful, nonprobability, convenience sampling. Data gathering took the form of semistructured, in-depth interviews, observations, and artifact collection. Interviews were conducted using a protocol designed by the team of collaborative peer researchers in order to gain insight into leaders’ perceptions of their conversational leadership experiences. Triangulation with observational notes and artifacts served to increase the validity of interview data. All data were entered into NVivo software to assist in analyzing patterns and predicting themes for coding. Findings: Close analysis of interview notes and transcripts, observations, and artifacts resulted in total of 25 themes and 447 frequencies among the 4 elements of conversational leadership. Ten key findings were identified across the areas of intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality.

Conclusions: The study supported the 4 elements of conversational leadership proposed by Groysberg and Slind (2012b) and identified specific behaviors that exemplary leaders practice within each. Four conclusions were drawn based on the data and findings. Educational services assistant superintendents who want to become transformational conversational leaders should (a) practice careful listening to create an environment of trust and support intimate communication structures within their organizations,

(b) facilitate a variety of collaborative groups using a process for the exchange of ideas to establish dynamically interactive organizations, (c) invite shared leadership opportunities to nurture a climate of inclusivity, and (d) continually focus conversation of the organization’s purpose to ensure collective understanding and clarity of direction. Recommendations: Further research of private sector leaders and assistant superintendents in regions outside of Southern California should be conducted. In addition, the element of intimacy in the workplace requires more attention in the field of conversational leadership.