Publication Date

Summer 2019

Document Type

Project Summary

Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Marlon Cummings, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Saundra Mickles, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Linda Ruhe Marsh, Ph.D.


School superintendents are challenged with many complexities of the position. They must balance the needs of their School Board, who act as their direct supervisors and sometimes have agendas of their own. They must balance the needs of their administrative team, and often serve as a buffer between these administrators, their staff, the community, parents, and the Union. They must balance the many different needs of the community, and often serve as the “face” of the school district. Most importantly, these many needs often are in direct and indirect competition with the students, the very reason that schools exist. Of course, within all of this, school superintendents must maintain their own personal ethics and convictions, staying true to who they are as both people and leaders. How do they balance all of this, while maintaining their authenticity?

The purpose of this study was to explore and answer the research question: What is superintendents’ perception of their use of the components of authentic leadership?

This study uses an interview based, qualitative methodology to better understand how superintendents apply the various components of authentic leadership to their daily work. In doing so, they described a variety of situations and challenges, how they reacted or responded, and how these responses impacted trust with a variety of stakeholders.

Data was analyzed to determine connections and correlations, evaluating actions, thoughts, and situations in terms of the thirteen components of authentic leadership. It was determined that components are applied in unique and complex ways, dependent upon the individual superintendent and the situation that they are addressing.


Appendix B was redacted for public posting.