Date of Award

Spring 3-27-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick

Second Advisor

Cindy Petersen

Third Advisor

Julie Hadden


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

Methodology: This study followed a qualitative, phenomenological methodology to describe the lived experiences of exemplary elementary school principals. A sample of 10 principals was selected from the target sample that included Mono, Inyo, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties in California. Interviews were conducted following a protocol developed by a group of peer researchers. Data from artifacts and observations were used for triangulation. NVivo coding software was used in the analysis of data.

Findings: Analysis of data resulted in 23 themes and 291 frequencies among the four elements of conversational leadership. From these 23 themes, seven key findings emerged.

Conclusions: The study identified the behaviors that exemplary elementary school principals practice within their organizations to create intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality as identified by Groysberg and Slind (2012b) in their organizational conversation framework. The researcher drew four conclusions from the data and findings. Exemplary elementary school principals create conditions for school reform by (a) using personal stories and valuing relationships to build trust, (b) being accessible and implementing systems for two-way dialogue, (c) gaining commitment by listening, and (d) consistently communicating goals and keeping the mission at the center of the school culture.

Recommendations: Additional research in conversational leadership is necessary. Research to identify specific behaviors that principals practice to listen, develop trust, and communicate objectives to all members of their organizations should be conducted. It is also recommended that research be conducted to determine the behaviors teacher leaders use to engage colleagues in organizational conversation. In addition, research should be conducted to identify and describe the principal behaviors that have the greatest positive impact on teachers from the millennial generation. This study should also be replicated in other regions with different cultural values.