Date of Award

Winter 2-22-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Phil Pendley, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Martinrex Kedziora, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Cheryl-Marie Osborne, Ed.D.


Purpose. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine what relationship exists between emotional intelligence (EI) and grit of expert principals with three or more years’ longevity. This study was conducted to deeply understand the relationship between these variables and to discover expert principals’ perceptions of how these personal attributes impacted their longevity.

Methodology. This study followed a sequential explanatory design model whereby quantitative methods were used initially to collect baseline data via electronic surveys followed by qualitative methods, which were used to dig deeper into the results via in-depth, semi-structured interviews.

Findings. The major findings included identification of 10 EI attributes representing the expert principals studied; the discovery of the four Ps of grit: passion, purpose, priorities, and perseverance; the identification of a synergistic relationship between grit and EI; revelation of 10 guiding principles to extend longevity of expert principals; and the necessity of support, training, and mentoring for principals. In addition, most participants discussed significant tragedies that occurred during their tenure and the influence these tragedies had on their longevity.

Conclusions. Based on the findings from this study it was concluded specific EI and grit attributes can be developed through practice, guidance, and training. It was also concluded preparation programs and induction programs would benefit from weaving information on EI and grit into their curriculum to extend principal longevity. Furthermore, K-12 educational institutes interested in increasing expert principals’ longevity would benefit from hiring gritty principals willing to develop both attributes.

Recommendations. The recommendations from this study are directed to individuals involved in higher education administrator preparation and induction programs and K-12 public schools superintendents, school boards, and personnel departments. It is recommended K-12 educational agents allocate funding for professional learning activities, including mentoring for principals, developing policies and procedures from recruitment to retention for gritty expert principals, and creating and implementing policies and procedures for emergency preparedness, including protocols for tragedies.