Farnaz Tabaee


Studies show that improvisation in leadership decision making is on the rise, and it transpires in organizations 75-90% of the time, yet very little research has explored this skillset. No other leadership skillset that is applied two thirds of the time has ever been so underdeveloped. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a pilot workshop applying a Holistic Improvisational Leadership Model as developed by the researcher and based on the latest improvisation research. The study employed a mixed methods design to gather qualitative and quantitative data for a descriptive evaluation of the pilot training workshop. Nonproportional quota sampling and triangulation were used to maximize cross verification and validity of the data. This study explored the skills leaders acquired and applied during, immediately after, 1 month after the workshop, and in 3 months. The study was pilot-tested on 6 different groups and a total of 67 leaders from various regions, industries and organizations. Primary findings revealed that participants gained the highest benefits in working with others and their ability to lead. Executive and educational leaders gained the awareness that 79% of their decisions at work were made spontaneously as opposed to 71% for all leaders. 100% of executives and senior leaders indicated acquiring more effective listening skills. Moreover, the concept of competent risks and celebrating failure appeared to have the most transformational impact on the participants' sense of self, willingness to take risks, and acquire new skills. The workshop seemed to bring participants' stress level down to an optimal level and enhance mindfulness. Ultimately, it was concluded the study's workshop was most effective as a continuous 3.5 hours. Learning to improvise experientially includes a process of unlearning old routines of decision making and re-learning more effective skills. Hence, the researcher recommends follow-up learning sessions to complete the cycle of learning. Utilizing grounded theory, the findings from the study led to the revision of Tabaee's Holistic Improvisational Leadership Model. The researcher recommends following the model by teaching the competencies not only to leaders but to all employees for achieving OPTIMAL strategy and performance for the organization.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Leadership -- Study and teaching; Management; Employees -- Training of; Improvisation (Acting); Organizational effectiveness

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;