Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Donald B. Scott

Third Advisor

Martinrex Kedziora


Purpose: The purpose of this mixed-method explanatory study was to identify and describe self-sabotaging behaviors experienced by California gay male K-12 school leaders to explore the impact these behaviors have had on their career development. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify strategies employed by California gay male K-12 school leaders to overcome these self-sabotaging behaviors.

Methodology: This mixed-method sequential explanatory study explored the lived experiences of eight gay male K-12 school leaders who self-identified that they have experienced self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their career. Purposeful, convenience, snowball sampling was utilized to identify gay men who met the delimiting criteria for participation in the study. An electronic survey instrument and interview questions were developed by a team of three thematic peer researchers with the guidance of faculty. The researcher deployed an electronic Likert scale survey to participants to identify the most prevalent self-sabotaging behaviors, followed by an open-ended interview to gather rich data on the lived experience of the participants. Interviews were transcribed and reviewed for emergent themes to ensure the data collected was aligned with research questions.

Findings: Data revealed that gay male K-12 school leaders engaged in nine self-sabotaging behaviors that impacted their career advancement. The top three self-sabotaging behaviors identified were fear and worrying, not taking time for reflection, and misunderstanding oneself. The top three strategies identified to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors were embracing one’s sexuality, inspiring other gay men, and constructive preparation.

Conclusions: Gay male K-12 school leaders engage in self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers. The study also found that self-sabotaging behaviors impact career development. Gay men utilize a variety of strategies to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors. Embracing one’s sexuality was the number one strategy identified by gay male K-12 school leaders to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify the self-sabotaging behaviors, and their impact on gay male K-12 school leaders in other states, in higher education, and in other career sectors where gay men strive for leadership positions. It is also recommended that research be conducted using different research methods.