All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Mary Ann Bodine Al-Sharif

Advisory Committee Members

Amy Dagley

John Dantzler

Keith Gurley

Gary Peters

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education


The purpose of this study was to generate a theory in education comparable to studies in other disciplines by exploring how current leadership theories can be expanded to explain how leadership effectiveness changes over time. This study explored active and retired principals' experiences to see how their effectiveness may or may not have changed over time. I was particularly interested in learning if there was a point in their careers when they perceived that they were no longer as effective as they used to be or could have been, what this looked like, and how this guided their next steps. There is a paucity in the educational research literature regarding the effectiveness of leadership over time. There appears to be a need for more empirical research about principals’ leadership effectiveness over time, the career stages of principals, and if principals can recognize when they were not as effective as they used to be or could have been. This research study's central question was as follows: How can current leadership theory be expanded to explain how leadership effectiveness changes over time? A qualitative, grounded theory approach was taken with 12 active and retired K-12 principals from an urban school district in Central Alabama. Each administrator participated in semi-structured interviews. The following eight provisional themes emerged during open coding: (a) Reasons for Becoming a Principal, (b) Leadership Effectiveness Over Time, (c) Stages in a Principal’s Career, (d) Factors that Influence a Leader’s Effectiveness, (e) Student Achievement, (f) Measurements of Leadership Effectiveness, (g) Past Point of Effectiveness, and (h) Principals’ Reflections of Leadership Ineffectiveness. Leadership Effectiveness Over Time and Stages in a Principal’s Career were the two identified open coding categories during axial coding that produced the central phenomenon that often appeared in the data, time impacts leadership effectiveness. During selective coding, the following created categories directly related to the central phenomenon: (1) Leadership Effectiveness Over Time and Stages in a Principal’s Career; (2) Mid-level Administrator; (3) How to Avoid Expiration; (4) Chronological Order of Leadership Styles; and (5) Increase in Leadership Effectiveness. The findings of this study affirmed that time impacts leadership effectiveness, which expands current leadership theories. The findings may support administrators who are seeking continuous professional growth to increase student achievement. The information presented in the model may equip superintendents with the knowledge necessary to support, coach, and encourage their growing principals.

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