Date of Award

Spring 2-23-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick

Second Advisor

Roni Jones

Third Advisor

Sharon Floyd


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe how corporate learning and development leaders lead from the heart using Mark Crowley’s (2011) 4 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 organizations.

Methodology: This study followed a qualitative phenomenological research study to describe the lived experiences of exemplary corporate learning and development leaders. Eight corporate learning and development leaders were selected from the target population in publicly traded technology companies in the state of California. Each of the corporate learning and development leaders was interviewed in a semistructured open-ended, one-to-one interview protocol developed by a group of peer researchers. Data from artifacts were used to triangulate the research results. Transcripts were analyzed and synthesized for themes using NVivo coding software.

Findings: Examination of qualitative data from the participating 8 exemplary corporate learning and development leaders in this study produced various findings. Analysis resulted in 20 themes and 466 frequencies. From these 20 themes, 9 key findings emerged.

Conclusions: The study identified the behaviors that exemplary learning and development leaders practice within their corporate technology organizations to create engagement, connections, appreciation, and maximization of potential as identified by Crowley (2011) in their organizational heart-led leadership framework. The researcher drew 5 conclusions from the data and findings. Exemplary learning and development leaders create conditions for organizational growth and productivity by (a) working alongside their team members to build engagement, motivation, transparency and trust; (b) communicating authentically with their team members to build emotional connections; (c) establishing a safe space and communicating positively to increase creativity and innovation; (d) showing appreciation to boost engagement and motivate higher achievement; and (e) creating opportunities for growth to increase productivity and loyalty.

Recommendations: Further research in heart-led leadership is necessary. Research to identify specific behaviors that leaders across the organization practice to engage, connect, maximize potential, and honor and reward achievement to all members of their organizations should be conducted. This study should also be replicated in other regions and company profiles with different cultural values.