Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Cheryl Getz, EdD, Chair René Molenkamp, PhD, Member Donna Ladkin, PhD, Member


leadership development, arts-based methods, music, aesthetic knowing, facilitation, holding environment, safety, group process, collaboration, collective leadership, dialectics, paradigm shift, identity, inclusivity, belonging


Amid the challenges in a global village, leadership education needs to surpass traditional methods, nurturing creativity, flexibility, and adaptability. This study is a collaborative action inquiry that considers music as an arts-based method in service of leadership development. The study unfolded over five cycles, in which 14 coinquirers collaborated in a process of exploration. The study illuminates the strong potential of music as a provocation for leadership development and reveals crucial realizations in the area of facilitation in collective processes.

This dissertation tells the story of the inquiry with the voices of its coinquirers and offers insights on facilitation through my reflections as the researcher. It honored the fluidity of the process by gathering data through a combination of questionnaires, workshops, and individual conversations. Akin to the process of birthing or composition, both data collection and analysis occurred iteratively, accessing emergent, musically informed methods of sense-making.

This study found the intersection of music and leadership development emerged as a novel exploration. The findings underscore the importance of cocreating a holding environment, an awareness of the dynamics within collective leadership situations, scaffolding, and the profound value of experiential learning. Further, the findings reveal the necessity of strong mutual trust among group members. Music was shown to catalyze meaningful leadership education along the dimensions of identity, inclusivity, and belonging. The study also demonstrated music facilitates leadership learning at multiple levels—embodiment, awareness, and engagement in emergent processes—underscoring its potential as a transformative tool in leadership development.

Despite successfully designing musical leadership workshops, however, coinquirers experienced concern about taking their learning outside of the study. Implications for future research and practice include investigating the use of music in leadership in organizational contexts, finding ways to support leadership development facilitators to creatively use arts-based methods for their work, applying the use of music in social justice spaces, and developing more applied methods of leadership and facilitation through inquiry to deepen our ways of engaging with each other in our world.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies