Date of Award

Spring 2-10-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder EdD

Second Advisor

Marylou Wilson EdD

Third Advisor

Linda Kimble EdD


Purpose: The purpose of this sequential, explanatory mixed methods study was to identify and describe personal power tactics that California female school superintendents employ to overcome the four identified self-sabotaging behaviors from the self-sabotaging framework adapted from Lerner (2012) and Ryder and Briles (2003). Methodology: This sequential, explanatory mixed methods study identified and described the power tactics that eight female superintendents in a Southern California public school used to overcome the top four self-sabotaging behaviors: thinking too small, fear and worrying, holding back, and not taking time for reflection. Purposeful and convenience sampling was used to identify the participants. The researcher collected data, calculated mean results, and developed themes for the self-sabotaging behaviors. Findings: Examination of the mixed methods data from the eight female superintendents indicated various findings. Female superintendents overcame their limited thinking by engaging in diverse and supportive networks. They continually engaged in extended professional learning opportunities and employed a variety of reflective practices to mitigate thinking too small. These educational leaders knew how to lean into self-doubt and embrace challenges head-on. Female superintendents allowed flexibility in different situations, were attentive and self-aware and used power dynamics to gain positive influence. Seeking critical feedback and fostering reflective habits, they continually refined their leadership skills. Female leaders set professional boundaries to maintain balance while prioritizing time for reflection and personal matters. vi Conclusions: The study reveals that female educational leaders benefit from active engagement in diverse networking groups, consistent leveraging of coaches and mentors, regular conversations with thought partners, advanced educational and leadership opportunities, self-reflection, and open communication. In addition, they should adopt questioning strategies, read the room, seek feedback, schedule reflection opportunities, find balance, treat personal appointments seriously, and foster a mindset shift valuing progress over perfection. The study emphasizes the significance of viewing successes and mistakes as opportunities for growth. Recommendations: It is recommended that the leaders of school districts, administrative preparation programs, and state and national professional organizations establish targeted programs and networking support systems for female educational leaders to assist them in overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors.