Date of Award

Spring 4-2-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Doug DeVore

Second Advisor

Patricia Clark White

Third Advisor

Larry Friese


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

Methodology. The qualitative phenomenological method was decided by a group of 12 thematic researchers to study conversational leadership practices based on four variables: intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality. This method was selected to investigate the experiences, perceptions, and decisions of the participants to help identify the patterns of conversational leadership practitioners. The population for this study was nonprofit executive directors in the Southern California region.

Findings. Extensive research on leadership communication and its impact on nonprofit executive directors has been completed. There still remains considerable gaps to identify the exemplary behaviors of nonprofit executive directors. A triangular data collection of personal interviews, observations, and artifacts was collected from the study participants. The data analysis of this study resulted in 12 themes and 426 frequencies. Eleven key findings emerged from the 12 themes.

Conclusions. This research study determined the behaviors that exemplary nonprofit executive directors practice to lead the members through the conversational elements of intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality as described by Groysberg and Slind’s (2012b). Exemplary nonprofit executive directors build trusting and safe work environments through storytelling and establishing systems of two-way communication. Additionally, they listen attentively to include the perspectives of all stakeholders when making key decisions centered on the mission and vision of the organization.

Recommendations. Future studies may include a comparative study to determine similarities between the perceptions of exemplary nonprofit directors and their followers. Additionally, further research by replicating this study in a region outside southern California.