The perceptions of long-serving superintendents regarding specific behaviors that contributed to their longevity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard Kriesky (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Peck

Abstract: Most public school district superintendents across this nation serve for fewer than five years. This relatively short tenure for a district chief can create uneven leadership and contribute to instability within the district. From an organizational standpoint, it is difficult to assess an environment, conceptualize a vision, implement strategies connected to that vision, and sustain those changes for a meaningful length of time in 5 years or less. While a superintendency of 5 years or longer does not ensure that the district chief will be innovative or transformational, longer tenures do create a wider window of opportunity if the leader seeks to make significant changes. The existing research and literature suggest communication and relationship-building are essential components in determining a superintendent’s effectiveness and longevity. But, much of the literature does not examine the specific leadership behaviors that long-serving superintendents use to communicate and build relationships. If novice superintendents become aware of specific communication and relationship-building behaviors that long-serving superintendents use, they may be able to replicate those behaviors and provide consistent leadership for a longer period of time. In this study, I focus on the specific communication and relationship-building behaviors that 7 long-serving (5 years or more in one district) superintendents believe supported their ability to successfully meet district challenges and increased their longevity. I also examine contextual factors connected to the superintendency along with training and support. I conducted a qualitative study that consisted of 2 one and a half hour interviews with each of the long-serving present or past superintendents. As a long-serving superintendent myself, my positionality seemed to create a level of trust with the participants that encouraged uninhibited responses and honest transparency. The findings in my study, based upon the data generated from the 2 interviews with each of the 7 superintendents, resulted in 4 themes. These themes express the common perceptions of the participants. The themes that emerged from the data are the following: *Long-serving superintendents recognize the importance of communication and relationship-building *Long-serving superintendents understand and give prominent attention to school boards and community *Long-serving superintendents attribute their longevity to specific communication and relationship-building behaviors *Long-serving superintendents express concerns about superintendent training and support approaches and services Based on my findings and the related literature, in this study I make 3 recommendations for superintendents who want to increase the likelihood of extended longevity. These 3 recommendations include 8 specific leadership behaviors that support communication and relationship-building. Each of the 8 behaviors in the recommendations were singled out by all of the long-serving superintendents as foundational in contributing to their longevity.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
School District Leadership, Superintendent Behaviors, Superintendent Communication, Superintendent Longevity, Superintendent Relationship-Building, Superintendent Training
School superintendents $x Professional relationships
School board-superintendent relationships
Communication in education
Educational leadership
Community and school

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