Date of Award

Winter 12-9-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick

Second Advisor

George Sziraki

Third Advisor

Charles Young


Purpose: The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed-methods study was to identify the political styles of superintendents and school board members as perceived by unified school district superintendents. In addition, it was the purpose to identify and explain the political strategies unified school district superintendents use to work with the different political styles of school board members.

Methodology: This sequential explanatory mixed-methods study analyzed quantitative surveys to identify the political styles of superintendents and school board members and qualitative interviews to identify political strategies using a political styles framework.

Findings: The major strategies exemplary unified district superintendents used to work with the political styles of board members were to build relationships and trust; get to know them personally; invest time and energy; open, honest, direct communication; communicate frequently; provide relevant, timely information; listen; be responsive; learn preferred communication style; develop board capacity and team; clarify roles and governance process; adapt own style; understand their political reality; identify their interests; give options; focus on common vision; identify shared priorities; and align individual interests with district goals.

Conclusions: It was concluded that superintendents who get to know board members personally and build trust are more successful with developing relationships; superintendents who fail to communicate effectively will struggle; superintendents who spend time developing the board and clarifying roles will have a stronger governance team; superintendents who do not develop political acuity and adapt their style will not work effectively with the board; superintendents who focus on a common vision will have greater success with moving the district in a positive, coherent direction; superintendents who use a variety of strategies will be better equipped to navigate politics; and student outcomes will be negatively impacted when a superintendent does not provide the board and district with effective leadership.

Recommendations: Additional research should be conducted to do a meta-analysis of the political styles thematic; understand political styles from perspective of board members; examine the strategy themes at a deeper level; identify strategies used by women in superintendent positions, city managers, and nonprofit executives; and analyze superintendent political styles and longevity.