Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia White, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Suzette Lovely, Ed.D.


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe how exemplary female superintendents in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties in Southern California lead from the heart using the four principles of Mark C. Crowley’s work, by demonstrating how they build a highly engaged team, connect on a personal level, maximize employee potential, and value and honor achievement within their organizations.

Methodology: This phenomenological study explored and identified the lived experience of eight California public school superintendents in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties in Southern California. Study participants were selected for interview participation based on specific criteria and the recommendation of superintendents. The interview data were recorded, transcribed, analyzed, and coded for themes.

Findings: Exemplary female superintendents lead from the heart to produce extraordinary results by: helping people understand how their contribution aligns with the core value of the organization; personally knowing and investing in their people; communicating messages of care and concern; dedicating time for connection; demonstrating authenticity and share vulnerabilities; focus on personal effectiveness in making a difference in the organization; and utilizing public recognition, program duplication, an award nominations to value and honor achievement.

Conclusions: This study concluded that to achieve extraordinary results, female superintendents must support people by helping them to understand how their contribution aligns to the core values of the organization. They must also personally know and invest in the people within their organizations and communicate messages of care and concern. To achieve extraordinary results, time must be dedicated for personal interactions and connections. Female superintendents must demonstrate authenticity and share vulnerabilities to achieve extraordinary results. It is also crucial for female superintendents to promote personal employee effectiveness in making a difference within their organization. Lastly, female superintendents who lead from the heart must make a commitment to recognizing and celebrating the success of employees through public recognition strategies, program duplication, and award nominations to achieve exemplary results.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended on the lived experience of exemplary male superintendents in leading from the heart as compared to their female counterparts.