Date of Award

Spring 1-29-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Kristen Harris

Third Advisor

Suzette Lovely


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory mixed methods study was to identify and describe self-sabotaging behaviors experienced by female secondary principals and to explore the impact these behaviors have on their career development. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify strategies used to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Methodology: An explanatory mixed methods design was used to uncover the perspectives of 10 female secondary principals in Northern California who have experienced career impacting self-sabotaging behaviors and to examine strategies that exemplary female secondary principals use to overcome their internal barriers. The quantitative phase included a 51-item online survey about self-sabotaging behaviors and the impact they have had on career development. The qualitative phase incorporated semistructured interview questions to understand the women’s lived experiences as female educational leaders. These approaches allowed the researcher to understand the internal barriers that women face in educational leadership and ways to overcome those barriers. The researcher analyzed data using NVivo software to identify themes from which to develop findings and draw conclusions.

Findings: Analysis of the data revealed that female secondary principals engaged in all nine self-sabotaging behaviors outlined in the study’s framework and developed because of external factors. The behaviors had an adverse impact on women’s career development and physical and mental well-being. All participants used the following strategies to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors: cultivating self-intimacy, honest self-expression, recognizing a woman’s unique destiny, building a power web, owning all of one’s self, inspiring other women, and acting with confidence.

Conclusions: The study indicated that women participate in self-sabotaging behaviors during the development of their careers in leadership. Influences such as social expectations, upbringing, external barriers, and cultural impacted the development of self-sabotaging behaviors. Women develop and use a variety of strategies to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors. Cultivating self-intimacy was the most referenced strategy that female secondary principals used to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify self-sabotaging behaviors and their impact on women in other populations within educational leadership. It is also recommended that further research into the strategies women use to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors be conducted using additional criteria.