Date of Award


Degree Name

Educational Leadership


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Michael Cunningham

Second Advisor

Sue Hollandsworth

Third Advisor

Bobbi Nicholson

Fourth Advisor

Rudy D. Pauley


The purpose of this study was to compare the perceptions of West Virginia school superintendents and West Virginia district school board of education members regarding the preferred leadership behaviors for superintendents in West Virginia. A review of the literature provided a list of 11 leadership behaviors: (a) leadership for vision and organizational culture; (b) leadership for policy and governance; (c) leadership for organizational management; (d) leadership for the instructional program; (e) leadership for system improvement; (f) leadership for budgeting and finance; (g) leadership for recruiting, developing and motivating personnel; (h) leadership that demonstrates effective communication; (i) leadership for improving community relations; (j) leadership that demonstrates political acuity; and (k) leadership that demonstrates moral and ethical behavior.

The survey instrument used in this study, the Survey of Leadership Behaviors for Superintendents in West Virginia, consisted of 26 questions in four parts. Participants of this study consisted of current public school district superintendents and members of boards of education in West Virginia. Data were generated regarding the respondent’s perceptions of leadership behaviors for superintendents.

Major findings of this study suggest that, while the 11 leadership behaviors identified in this study are seen as important to be an effective superintendent in West Virginia, the three leadership behaviors of communication, vision, and ethics were viewed by both superintendents and board of education members as essential to the success of superintendents in West Virginia, regardless of district characteristics. Superintendents should devote time and attention to establishing a clear and guiding vision for the school district, establishing effective and ongoing communication systems regarding their role in leading the district, and in being a model for moral and ethical decision-making in leading the school district.

Superintendents participating in this study view system improvement, community relations and political acuity significantly more important than do board of education members. These three areas are increasing in importance due to the increased accountability for student performance and resulting stakeholder concern and involvement in the operation of the school district. Certification and training programs for current and aspiring superintendents should prepare candidates for leading system improvement, improving community involvement and relations and developing political acuity.

Participants in this study perceive that effective superintendents are able to create and build strong central office leadership teams. As the responsibilities of leading a school system become increasingly complex, it is essential for superintendents to develop the collaborative leadership skills needed to create central office leadership teams that model effective distributive leadership. Finally, participants in this study perceive that it is essential for superintendents to develop and maintain relationships of trust with board of education members.


School superintendents - West Virginia

School environment - West Virginia

Educational leadership