Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Cindy Petersen

Second Advisor

Donald B. Scott

Third Advisor

Jonathan Greenberg


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe how exemplary leaders in the field of student affairs perceive the practices of Simon Sinek’s Infinite Mindset Framework are embedded within their organizations to inspire the achievement of extraordinary results. A further purpose of this study was to understand the organizational supports and barriers these exemplary leaders perceive affect the development of an infinite mindset.

Methodology: Interviews were used to explore and describe how exemplary student affairs leaders perceive the five practices of Sinek’s Infinite Mindset are embedded within their organizations. The study seeks to explore and make a scholarly contribution to existing theories of leadership (Patton, 2015). The research is qualitative and the phenomenological approach examines individuals’ experiences and investigates the problems connected to the experience to increase overall understanding (Ungvarsky, 2020).

Findings: The qualitative data of 12 student affairs leaders was examined. These leaders: use mission, vision, and values to bring together stakeholders; use the student-centered approach through feedback and evaluation; use their institutions’ culture at the top as guidance to find meaning; implement building of trusting teams by focusing on relationships; focus on consistent communication with stakeholders; collaborate across departments to better understand and serve student needs; use student feedback to better support future generations of students; expect members of their organization to create robust experiences for students through modeling and mentoring; and perceive that relationships serve as the foundation to sustained success.

Conclusions: It was concluded that exemplary student affairs leaders who engage in the following actions achieve extraordinary results: align the work to being student-centered; perceive relationships as the foundation of the work; bring together diverse experiences and skills; pivot and adapt in response to evaluation; consider the impact of the campus culture; and nurture professional development within their organizations.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to: study student affairs leaders at a single institution type; by association region; by functional area; study deans, presidents, and chancellors; conduct a thematic meta-analysis; and build the literature on the Infinite Mindset.