Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Petersen

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Dr. Walter Buster


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study was to describe how exemplary superintendents build leadership capacity with their executive teams using Kirtman’s (2014) Seven Competencies for School Leadership.

Methodology: This multiple case study used purposeful criterion sampling and recommendations from a panel of experts to identify seven superintendents throughout the United States to participate in the study. Each superintendent was interviewed with questions developed and field-tested by the researcher and provided artifacts. Collected data was coded using case-based, cross-case analysis to identify themes in how superintendents build leadership capacity with their executive teams.

Findings: The findings identified 21 practices and seven major findings superintendents used to build leadership with their executive teams. Specifically, superintendents challenged executive teams to diversify thinking, redefine roles and modify practices; created a safe culture to address conflict and agree on solutions; collaborated on mission, vision, values, and strategy to create commitment; developed the team individually and collectively through coaching, modeling, and learning; ensured productive action driven by results; increased self-reflection to be individually accountable to the team and the organization; and required executive teams to participate in professional associations.

Conclusions: It was concluded that superintendents build innovative executive teams by providing opportunities to diversify thinking; build a culture of trust with executive teams by modeling the use of interactive communication; convert conversations into action by requiring executive teams to use factual criteria to evaluate plans; increase shared leadership and decision-making by growing individual expertise in executive team members; increase productivity by developing thinking and managerial skills in executive teams; and advance internal and external accountability by building habits of self-reflection.

Recommendations: Additional research is recommended to include a replicative study with superintendents who have not worked with Kirtman previously, a study on superintendents building leadership with school principals using Kirtman’s framework, a study examining the most beneficial competencies of Kirtman’s framework, a comparative study of superintendents using Kirtman’s framework at different stages of career arc, and a replicative study comparing the similarities and differences of outcomes based upon superintendent gender.