Date of Award

Spring 3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Tamerin Tooker

Second Advisor

Donald B. Scott

Third Advisor

Phil Pendley

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Ainsworth


Purpose: The purpose of this descriptive mixed method study was to explore and describe the coping skills used to overcome the nine behavioral characteristics by special education charter school leaders who identified as experiencing impostor phenomenon (IP) by the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (Clance,1985), while leading the transition to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methodology: This descriptive mixed-methods research design used quantitative and qualitative data to identify special education leaders with IP and explore the coping skills they used during distance learning. The first phase of the study was a quantitative 20-question survey, the CIPS, used to identify leaders with IP. The second phase of the study was qualitative and included 12 semi structured interview questions meant to obtain rich, descriptive data about the coping skills used to overcome the nine behavioral characteristics associated with IP. Findings: The findings from this research study indicates that 70% of special education charter school leaders experienced moderate to frequent feelings of impostor syndrome during the pandemic. The analysis of the semi structured interview questions revealed 1-3 coping strategies for each of the characteristics. 18 major themes emerged and 3 unexpected findings. Themes included: allowing room for grace, engaging in physical activity, and asking for advice from a mentor.

Conclusions: These findings led the researcher to conclude that individuals experiencing IP characteristics can cope by working in collaborative teams, setting boundaries, prioritizing tasks, engaging in physical activity or movement, and giving themselves grace by asking for assistance from a colleague or supervisor. Recommendations: Educational organizations should invest in the development of their administrators' leadership skills and provide opportunities for leaders to work collaboratively in teams. Leaders require validation and reassurance from supervisors, therefore, creating a space for ongoing feedback is vital for individuals experiencing behaviors associated with IP. Lastly, raising awareness of IP in educational settings and organizations can create a work environment that avoids increasing individual impostor feelings.