Date of Award

Winter 12-19-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick

Second Advisor

Cindy Petersen

Third Advisor

Jody Graf


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and describe how exemplary human resources administrators use storytelling to lead organizations using Denning’s (2011) model. In addition, it was the purpose to understand how they use storytelling to create transformational change. Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling highlights eight storytelling narrative patterns: to ignite action, to communicate who you are, to build your brand, to transmit values, to foster collaboration, to share knowledge, to tame the grapevine, and to share vision.

Methodology: This phenomenological qualitative study described the lived experiences of exemplary elementary chief nurse executives in California. The researcher was part of a thematic research team of 3 peer researchers and 2 faculty advisors. Through purposeful sampling, the researcher selected 10 exemplary chief nurse executives who met at least 4 of 6 criteria identifying someone as exemplary. The collection of data included face-to-face semistructured interviews. The interviews followed a protocol developed by the thematic research team. The researcher conducted observation and gathered relevant artifacts for data triangulation. The data were coded and emergent themes were identified.

Findings: The analysis of data resulted in 24 themes and 1,079 references across the 9 narratives. From the 24 themes 7 key findings emerged.

Conclusions: Chief nurse executives who (a) tell heartfelt inspirational and positive stories which will foster effective relationships with staff, (b) recognize the importance of community integration in developing organizational values and brand to fulfill the needs of the vulnerable patient population, (c) create processes through purposeful team approaches to foster collaboration to enhance communication and multidisciplinary decision-making, and (d) share personal vulnerabilities and empower others to model authenticity and develop trusting relationships.

Recommendations: Replication of this phenomenological study should focus on demographics of chief nurse executives and other types of healthcare care facilities in different states (for-profit acute care, skilled nursing facilities, subacute organizations). Mixed-methods research studies should add a quantitative tool to draw further insight into how frontline staff perceive their chief nurse executives use storytelling to create transformational change. A phenomenological study should be conducted replicating this study with medical officers and chief executive officers.