Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jeffrey Lee

Second Advisor

Cheryl-Marie Osborne Hansberger

Third Advisor

Alan Enomoto


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to describe the mentoring experiences of mid-level leaders in private non-profit higher education as it relates to their leadership development.

Methodology: This phenomenological study identified and described the mentoring experiences of 15 mid-level leaders in private non-profit higher education in California as they related to leadership development. Respondents were chosen based on specific criteria, snowball sampling, and finally convenience. The researcher collected data and coded the data for themes based upon frequency counts.

Findings: Examination of the qualitative data from the 15 mid-level leaders in Private, Non-Profit Higher Education yielded 10 findings. These findings included mid-level leaders leveraged mentoring relationships for expertise, advice, having candid conversations, dialoguing through challenges, and answer developmental questions posed by their mentors. Mid-level leaders learn skills from peers, collaborate with those they seek to learn from, and through constructive coaching from their supervisors. Frequency of mentoring sessions varied based upon the mentor-mentee relationship.

Conclusions: Ten conclusions were drawn from the findings of the data. These conclusions pointed to increased access to senior leaders and other leaders within the organization enhance development of mid-level leaders. Mid-level leaders need time to contextualize what they learned through mentoring, work on stretch goals, and dialogue through challenges they experience with their mentors. Organizational cultures high in trust and teams that feel psychologically safe will produce more meaningful mentoring relationships and organizational results. Mentoring programs need guidance on how mentoring relationships are developed to customize support.

Recommendations: Recommendations for action include assessing executives on organizational culture, mid-level leaders must observe senior leaders make decisions, capturing mid-level leaders mentoring experiences, researching phases of mid-level leaders challenges, creating virtual training simulations, creating a task force to revise the annual review process to include professional development, developing a “New Role for a Day” program, levering software to forge unlikely partnerships, grouping mid-level leaders in teams for collaboration and skill development, performing a SWOT analysis to identify key affinity groups, and strategies for senior leaders to building trust.