Date of Award

Spring 2-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson

Second Advisor

Doug Devore

Third Advisor

Kristin Baranski


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and describe the essential characteristics of coaching that secondary principals perceive to support effective leadership at school sites. An additional purpose of this study was to determine what strategies secondary principals recommend for improving coaching that supports effective leadership at school sites.

Methodology: This study adopted a phenomenological approach. The researcher analyzed the lived experiences of 11 secondary principals and identified any commonalities that existed among their interviews based on their perceived truths and perceptions of their lived experiences.

Findings: Analysis of interviews, observations, and artifacts from 11 high school principals generated multiple findings. In order for the principal to benefit and feel supported, the coach must establish a trusting relationship where the principal can be vulnerable. Likewise, authenticity, consistency, meaningful feedback, communication, purposeful questioning, and listening must be provided to ensure the principal reflects, grows professionally, and implements change in their leadership.

Conclusions: The study supported the finding that coaching firms must hire individuals of varying background and experiences who have done the actual job they are being asked to coach. The coach must know how to build rapport, communicate consistently, build trusting relationships, and be empathetic. Districts that utilize coaching firms must take the time to evaluate the services the firms provide. They must ensure that the coaches are trained in emotional intelligences and that the coaching is confidential to ensure they can develop trusting relationships with their coachees.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to determine if coaching characteristics are similar at the elementary and middle school levels. Moreover, a mixed methods study should be conducted with coaches to determine how the essential characteristics of coaching helped the high school administrators develop as leaders. Likewise, a future study should investigate how all veteran site administrators grew as effective leaders based on coaching characteristics. Finally, a Delphi study should be conducted to compare the effectiveness of the coaching characteristics that coaches use when coaching site administrators at the high school level.