Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jeffery Lee

Second Advisor

George Giokaris

Third Advisor

Carol Anderson-Woo


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify and describe the lived experience of female leaders from military academic institutions in finding common ground during crisis situations.

Methodology: This phenomenological study identified and described how female mid-level leaders from Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and Naval Postgraduate School found common ground during crisis. The population for this study includes all female leaders from military academic institutions in California, which is estimated at 60 to 100, of which 16 were sampled.

Findings: The findings from this research illustrate that female leaders found common ground when they (a) consistently listen to employees with an open heart; (b) engage in a clear and transparent communication; (c) create a psychological safe space for courageous conversations; (d) encourage employees to take ownership; (e) achieve the unity in efforts among the various stakeholders; (f) constantly invest in building and maintaining social relationships; (g) foster an organizational culture where the employees feel connected to the leader; (h) lead with an opportunity mindset; (i) adapt to crisis.

Conclusions: Based on the literature and findings of this study it is concluded that leaders: (a) intentionally create time and space for perspectives to be shared; (b) build trust when they model vulnerability and admit mistakes; (c) create systems to learn from past crises; (d) consistently encourage diversity of thoughts; (e) communicate broadly, repeatedly, and through multiple means; (f) show their accessibility and openness; (g) take pre-crisis measures; (h) actively engage with all stakeholders.

Recommendations. Based on the findings and conclusions it is recommended that leaders: (a) prepare and conduct meetings that provide opportunities for all stakeholders to have a voice; (b) model vulnerability and fully embrace sharing challenges; (c) hold regular “design thinking” meetings; (d) regularly engage with their employees to connect; (e) annually conduct “Listening Tours” and learn how previous crises helped the organization to transform; (f) incorporate storytelling as a mean of sharing and learning from current/previous crises.