Date of Award

Winter 2-13-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Second Advisor

Dr. Cindy Petersen

Third Advisor

Dr. George Sziraki


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed-methods study was to identify and describe what leadership strategies exemplary suburban superintendents perceive as the most important to build trust with school board members using the 5 domains of competence, consistency, concern, candor, and connection. In addition, it was the purpose of this study to identify and describe what leadership strategies suburban superintendents perceive as the most important to build trust between board members.

Methodology: This explanatory sequential mixed-methods study analyzed quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to answer the research questions in regard to each element of trust in The Values Institute pyramid of trust.

Findings: The major strategies exemplary suburban superintendents used to build trust were to lead, develop, and engage board members in discussions about their district’s mission, vision, and values; make hard decisions; keep board members involved and engaged in governance activities; develop norms, protocols, and a governance handbook; keep commitments to board members; demonstrate visibility combined with behaviors and actions that are expected; ensure that board members have a voice; keep the board informed in an open and honest fashion; be transparent, honest, and develop mutual accountability; listen; and get to know board members and treat them positively and respectfully.

Conclusions: It was concluded that to build trust superintendents should give the governance team meaningful roles to develop and implement district values, vision, and mission; be highly visible and keep commitments to board members; skillfully facilitate discussions with board members while demonstrating high transparency; understand that trust is complex and must be built individually and collectively; develop highly effective and adaptable communication skills; and practice leadership based on love and acceptance.

Recommendations: Additional research should be conducted to understand trust from the board members’ perspective; determine trust instrument effectiveness, describe gender influence on trust, determine the effectiveness of consultants trained to build trust, describe trust repair strategies, and explore the lived experiences of those superintendents who demonstrate the leadership practices of love and acceptance.