Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education


Department of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Charles K. Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet L. Deck

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa A. Coscia


This qualitative case study answers the central research question “How are compassionate leadership behaviors encouraged and/or discouraged in the workplace?” Interviews with five individuals from one work team in an Am Law 100 law firm revealed how the compassionate leadership behaviors of integrity, accountability, presence, empathy, authenticity, and dignity (Shuck et al., 2019) were applied at work. This research explored four themes: leadership courage, growth mindset, empowerment, and coaching performance. Each theme has four subthemes further describing the data: Leadership courage: managing consistently and fairly, being transparent, communicating honestly, and taking risks; Growth mindset: working intentionally, developing others, learning continuously, and self-reflecting to improve; Empowerment: dispersed decision-making, fostering diversity of thought, seeking employee input, and respecting/caring for the individual; Coaching performance: giving/receiving feedback, upholding accountability, setting/clarifying expectations, and facilitating productive conversations. Robert Greenleaf’s (1977) servant leadership theory framed the study. Limitations of the study include a singular industry and organizational focus, data sources solely from interviews, and the constrained definitions of compassionate leadership by Shuck et al. (2019). Future research should replicate the study in other groups and organizations and consider quantitative experiments to compare employee and leader perspectives.