How Exemplary Elementary Principals Lead From the Heart Using Mark Crowley’s Four Principles (Building a Highly Engaged Team, Connecting on a Personal Level, Maximizing Employee Potential, and Valuing and Honoring Achievements) to Accomplish Extraordinary Results in their Schools

Date of Award

Winter 1-19-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore

Second Advisor

Lisa Simon

Third Advisor

Marylou Wilson


Purpose. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine how exemplary elementary principals lead from the heart using Mark Crowley’s four principles (building a highly engaged team, connecting on a personal level, maximizing employee potential, and valuing and honoring achievements) to accomplish extraordinary results in their schools.

Methodology. This phenomenological design used qualitative data to analyze the research questions regarding exemplary elementary principals’ use of heart-led leadership strategies to achieve extraordinary results. As part of a larger thematic study which included interviews of 140 exemplary leaders, this study identified and interviewed eight exemplary elementary principals in Ventura County, California. The respondents were purposefully chosen from elementary principals in the county based on their demonstrated exemplary leadership.

Findings. The findings from the study show the powerful impact of elementary principals leading from the heart following Crowley’s four principles of leadership. Major findings include the importance of principals taking the time to develop caring relationships with and among all employees. Additional findings included the importance of a shared vision, goals, and decision making along with the value of the principal demonstrating humility and vulnerability with their employees.

Conclusions. It is concluded that elementary principals successfully lead from the heart by investing the time in order to develop genuine relationships with and among employees. The study concluded that employee relationships are fundamental to a school’s success. Relationships are built on the shared vision of the work, the principal’s willingness to demonstrate vulnerability and humility, and the principal’s ability to provide open and honest communication and feedback to employees.

Recommendations. The researcher recommends improved professional preparation in the area of leading from the heart in higher education administrative preparation programs. Administrators should participate in collaboration and mentoring opportunities focused on relationship development with employees and their evaluations should reflect this practice. This emphasis on leading from the heart should be expanded beyond the elementary school site to all aspects of school administration.