Date of Award

Winter 12-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Cindy Petersen, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Walt Buster, Ed.D.


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 and implement new ideas, build trust, build your organizations’ brand, transmit organizational values, foster collaboration, share knowledge, neutralize rumor, and create and share vision.

Methodology: This phenomenological qualitative study described the lived experiences of exemplary human resources administrators in Northern 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 human resources administrators who met at least 4 of 6 criteria identifying a leader as exemplary. The collection of data included face-to-face semistructured interviews. The researcher conducted observations and gathered artifacts for data triangulation. The data were coded, and emergent themes were identified.

Findings: Student stories are vital to spark action and build brand. Stories getting to know people helps build trust. Stories around relationships fosters collaboration. Stories during negotiations can share knowledge. Stories told with social media and union leadership can neutralize rumor. Sharing stories about the mission and students shares the vision and assists with recruitment. Sharing stories getting to know people, student stories, and those shared with union leadership helps create transformational change.

Conclusions: Human resources administrators who share student stories will evoke emotion that engages stakeholders, build relationships, and be more successful in communicating the organization’s vision. They will be more successful in building trust with union leadership in the negotiations process.

Recommendations: It is recommended that a phenomenological study be done to explore experiences of female human resources administrators and how they use stories, a multiple-case study to identify storytelling strategies that county office human resources administrators use to develop organizational culture, a mixed-methods study to identify storytelling strategies that human resources administrators use to build trust in labor relations, and a Delphi study to identify storytelling strategies used within social media.