Perceptions of Current Virginia School Superintendents and Active Board Chairpersons Concerning Essential Leadership Characteristics of Superintendents

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Virginia Tech

Educational leadership has been studied and disputed for decades, but it remains an elusive topic. The superintendent is the lead advocate in the school district (Bjork, 2009). Research suggests that certain leadership characteristics are more effective than others (Gray and Lewis, 2011). The purpose of this study was to identify current superintendents' and active school-board chairpersons' perceptions of superintendent-leadership characteristics. As a follow-up study, it compared the perceptions of superintendents and school-board chairpersons in 2009 and 2016 to determine similarities and differences (Thornton, 2009).

Superintendents and school-board chairs agreed that effective communication with board members, division and school staff, parents, students, and the community is essential in superintendent leadership. Superintendents and school-board chairs also agreed that personal and professional integrity, honesty, and fairness are essential leadership characteristics for public-school superintendents. Superintendents and school-board chairs ranked instructional leader and visionary leader as the two most essential characteristics of the position of superintendent.

In 2009, the superintendents perceived instructional leader and visionary leader to be the most essential characteristics. In 2016, superintendents also rated instructional leader and visionary leader as the two most essential characteristics. In both 2009 and 2016, school-board chairs identified visionary leadership as the most essential characteristic.

superintendent, leadership characteristics