Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Nancy Dishner

Committee Members

Terrence A. Tollefson, Russell F. West, Harold Lee Daniels, Glenn Bettis


The purpose of this qualitative research study was to determine the best methods for achieving key leadership roles in education. The problem was to define the qualities that are important in leadership positions and to determine how those qualities relate to the top-level positions in school systems across Tennessee.

Nineteen female directors of schools were interviewed. Directors also completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (5X-Short). Characteristics of transformational and transactional leadership styles were included in the study. Most of the directors scored high on using the transformational factors (idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration) of leadership and on using the contingent reward style of transactional leadership.

The female directors of this study perceived communication skills, a caring attitude, honesty, being a visionary, and having people skills as important leadership characteristics. Other emergent themes included the qualities of males and females in the workplace, barriers to success, and the best practices that leaders are currently using in the workplace.

The retention of top leaders in education is important. The perceptions of the 19 directors of Tennessee's public schools in this study are vital in understanding how women in leadership positions work. Mentoring, peer coaching, and providing time for directors to network, collaborate, and receive quality professional development are essential practices that should be promoted and continued to retain these leaders. The implication from this study is that higher education institutions should also consider best practices for preparing future administrators to be successful. Attention should be paid to the differences in which males and females work and to the difference of personality traits and characteristics of leaders that may affect success in top-level positions in education.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.