Date of Award

Winter 1-6-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia Clark White

Second Advisor

Jonathan Greenberg

Third Advisor

Lillian Maldonado French


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify and describe how exemplary superintendents use five principles associated with grit (courage, conscientiousness, long-term goals, resilience, and excellence versus perfection) to accomplish extraordinary results in their organizations.

Methodology: This qualitative study was part of a larger thematic study conducted by nine doctoral candidates under the supervision of three University of Massachusetts Global faculty. The study used a phenomenological design to identify and describe how exemplary superintendents use five principles associated with grit to accomplish extraordinary results. Data were gathered through a combination of eight semistructured interviews, related observations, and a review of artifacts. Interview transcripts were coded, allowing for identification of themes that emerged among the responses. Observations and artifact review were used to triangulate the research results.

Findings: Exemplary superintendents use five principles associated with grit in several ways. This includes doing what is best for students, setting priorities, working with others to continually plan and assess, using multiple forms of communication, and aligning individual and department goals with district goals.

Conclusions: It was concluded that to achieve extraordinary results, superintendents must make decisions based on what is best for students. This requires that they review data and seek input from many sources. Superintendents must set priorities in their work to ensure that everything gets done. They must actively work with others and rely on multiple forms of communication to ensure that everyone within the organization is aware of the organization’s goals as well as the progress being made toward those goals. Additionally, superintendents must align individual and department goals with district goals so everyone is working toward the same goal.

Recommendations: Recommendations for further research into how superintendents use principles associated with grit included a comparison between male and female superintendents, a comparison between superintendents serving in small, mid, and large districts, implementation of a mixed methods study to compare qualitative and quantitative data as well as replication of the original study to include superintendents serving outside of Los Angeles or Orange Counties.