Research topics and publications

In line with HLU’s mission – to promote leadership driven by the heart, and in doing so, the transformation of the leader and their company – we carry out independent and innovative research on under-investigated fields of research.


What is the intelligence of the heart (HI), at the crossroads of emotional intelligence, empathy, love, intuition, courage; its obvious expressions and its impacts (negative or positive), the importance of “body-heart-mind” alignment and a holistic health approach (including for the leader).

Relationships, especially in the field of leadership and business:

-relationships between individuals: attitude of a leader towards close or distant people around him, raising issues such as the radius of empathy and ethics of the leader

-nature of relationships (rational or intuitive): the human as a “social being” interacting and making subjective decisions fueled by emotions, intuitions and a personal set of values, versus decisions that are increasingly data-driven or AI-produced

-biology and patterns of dominance and control within organizations,

-relations between entities such as a company and its stakeholders (type, quality, transformation of relations)

Forms of leadership driven by the heart: structures of governance that are favorable to heart leadership; means, methods, frames of reference that allow it to be carried out/reinforced in daily practice

On the evolutions of the imaginary of leadership (in the field of sociology of the imaginaries). What is commonly a “desired business leader” and by whom (according to social norms and personal preferences)? Who are the players who shape, support, transmit, transform this imaginary? What are the key levers (education, media, networks) to make significant changes in these imaginaries?  What about the courage of the leader as an individual among complex social groups and society : courage to act/decide, to speak the truth, to be oneself?

In order to investigate these research questions, we develop an interdisciplinary research: psychology, psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, behavioral and evolutionary biology, social neurosciences, behavioral economics, governance…

Nos dernières publications

Ongoing studies

Assessing HLU’s Heart Leadership pilot Exec Program
The contribution of IPBC

Main collaborators: S. La Branche and J. Fradin

Heart Leadership University’s educative pilot program “Straight from the heart” has been designed as a transformative process for business leaders (developing a leadership driven by the intelligence of the heart, adopting new ways to manage, to innovate and to make strategic decisions). We partnered with the IPBC (International Panel on Behavioral Change) to perform an 18-months long assessment of the impacts of the program on participating leaders and their companies, as well as to identify the obstacles & pre-conditions needed for Heart Leadership to occur.

IPBC has been grounded in 2018 as an international and large interdisciplinary group of scientists (from psychology, sociology to a large array of human and social sciences), aiming at building and sharing key knowledge, attitudes and levers for action, universal or contextualizable, as to facilitate the emergence of a more structurally and spontaneously sustainable, desirable and equitable world.

HLU aims that its new pilot exec program becomes a deeply transformative journey. Leadership practice can evolve significantly by using daily one’s “heart intelligence” (HI) which includes, among others: intuition, empathy, active listening, courage, consideration of emotions … The goal of the program is not only to develop HI as an essential and complementary leadership skill, but also to translate it into concrete actions of participating business leaders. This raises several questions both in terms of research and practice in the real life of the participants and in the context of the course: 

  • What is the HI (both conceptually and pragmatically?)?
  • What is intuition and how can an individual recognize it when it is operating?
  • How to objectify these notions, what would be the evaluation criteria?
  • How then to mobilize the answers to these questions in order to nurture, develop or improve and then, disseminate, a learning journey of the HI in leadership?

In this context, the IPBC contribution aims to:

  1. Provide elements of conceptual and operational answers to these questions;
  2. Evaluate the impacts of the program on the evolutions in the attitudes of the participants with regard to taking into account HI in leadership, in all its facets: emotional intelligence, empathy, intuition, ability to listen to/let your intuition speak, courage (to speak truthfully, to be yourself, to be aligned with your values, to make difficult decisions, etc.).
  3. Evaluate the impacts of the course (development of the HI and its attributes in the participants) on the professional practices of the participants, the status that the criteria of the HI takes in their decisions; their desire and intention to implement learning from the journey in their work;
  4. Analyze the transformation process itself in a process of continuous improvement of the methods used within the framework of HLU, in order to then make it more easily replicable.

The power of the heart: a research program led by Prophil

An interdisciplinary research-action program

Heart Leadership University (HLU) has been created as a disruptive university aiming at transforming leaders through organizations and through heart intelligence. An 18-month training program for leaders has been designed to allow them to display their empathetic abilities, their intuition and their courage and to apply the intelligence of the heart  within their company. The pilot edition took place from September 2021 to January 2023. This first edition of the “Straight from the heart” course is also the “field” of study for two complementary research-action programs: the first, led by psychologist and sociologist researchers from IPBC, aims to study the intelligence of the heart in practice among program leaders. The second, entrusted to ProPhil consultancy and research, focuses on the link between HI and the type of corporate governance. It has the following objectives:

  • To contribute to the enrichment of knowledge around the intelligence of the heart, and particularly in connection with governance: what are the issues at the intersection of governance and intelligence of the heart? What is governance by the heart and how it is applied in companies? What are the action levers?
  • To assess the impact of the course on transformations in terms of governance within the participating companies: what impact on the representations of the leaders vis-à-vis the governance of their company and their relationship to power? What organizational changes will be initiated (from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism or steward ownership, from business for profit to business for purpose) ?
  • Provide recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the course and modules related to governance, in terms of content and form
  • To propose innovative and didactic restitution formats in order to disseminate the results of the research program and to create more widely new imaginaries around governance powered by the heart.

Heart Leadership University and the sociology firm Eranos launched a study in June 2022 on the "imaginaries of leadership"

Competitive? Warrior ? Paternalist? Creative ? Powerful ? Sensitive? Conductor? Charismatic? What are the imaginaries of business leader in the past, at present (through a survey of leaders, future leaders and young people), what are the perspectives and what are the efficient levers to influence these imaginaries? With HLU aiming to help preserve our humanity in the 21st century, we felt a need for a deeper understanding of the processes of “making” of imaginary of leadership within western societies. It seems urgent, necessary, to map, question, contribute to the renewal of the (various and changing) imaginaries of leadership – in order to bring a model of desirable leadership, inspired by life and driven by the heart, creator of economic activities that are truly useful to the world.

The study has three parts:

-Carry out a mapping of imaginaries of leadership from the past, focused on the economic sphere. One of the challenges will be to identify to what extent “the leader driven by the heart” of HLU is part of a historical continuity. The skills of the heart that we are studying in particular are empathy, intuition and courage.

-Study what are the imaginaries of leadership in the current French youth (students, young professionals) – and what would be a desirable leader / a leader that one would like to become (interviews and survey)

-Describe the players and the driving forces behind the creation and evolutions of imaginaries of leadership (large universities & Business schools, media, internet), to enrich a 2023 roadmap for HLU and its partners, in order to grow of a movement of leaders inspired by life and driven by the heart, and gain strategic influence on the imaginary of leadership.

Comment l’intelligence du cœur peut-elle transformer les pratiques de gouvernance des organisations ? Comment le cadre de gouvernance peut-il favoriser l’expression de l’intelligence du cœur au sein d’une organisation ? Voici deux problématiques clés au cœur du programme de recherche « Le pouvoir du cœur » que le cabinet Prophil développe avec Heart Leadership University.