Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Management Communication, M.S.


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Natalie Nelson-Marsh

LC Subjects

Leadership--Social aspects; Leadership--United States--Case studies; Communication in management; Nonprofit organizations--Personnel management


Leadership is a complex concept to define, understand and put into practice. This study first problematizes the concept of leadership as a trait or possession. The project then explores leadership as a dynamic communication process that is co-created through meaningful patterns of interaction. To this end, two conceptual themes about leadership as communication emerged through a synthesis of the literature: leadership as influence and leadership as cultural empowerment. Through qualitative methods, the research aims to investigate these themes as possible leadership symbolic interaction patterns at a nonprofit organization in the Pacific Northwest. This study found that there were three key aspects to conceptualizing where organizational communication starts and leadership communication begins: setting the stage, belief in the system, and how to go on together. The significance of these findings emerges in the nuance of how important routine organizing processes are in constructing inclusive cultural assumptions that then lend to constituting leadership as collective agency or collective ability to act, act for, and act with others toward a purpose. This thesis also illustrates how it is possible for leadership to be understood as both a perspective and a process.


CST 599: Thesis

Copyright for this work is retained by the author.