Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Daniele Lyman-Torres, EdD

Second Supervisor

Edward Engelbride, PhD


The purpose of this study was to determine how the superintendents’ skill sets of trust, communication, and leadership skills were executed differently in rural, suburban, and urban districts. This qualitative descriptive analysis study analyzed 12 superintendent interviews using the six-phase thematic analysis method. Superintendents were selected who had 3 or more years of experience, with at least 1 year in their current position. Two women and two men superintendents were interviewed from each district size: rural, suburban, and urban. Skill set execution was determined based on Bolman and Deal’s four frames of leadership. The three skill sets of trust, communication, and leadership were identified as being the most frequently used by rural, suburban, and urban superintendents. It was determined that superintendents executed two skills, communication and leadership, differently based on district size. The skill set of trust was executed using the same frames regardless of district size. Three subthemes within the theme of trust included building relationships, gaining community support, and respect. It is recommended that superintendents seeking to change positions and move to a differently sized district be aware of how skill sets are executed differently based on district size. Superintendents should focus on districts that match their skill sets or they are encouraged to strengthen skill sets that will be needed in a particularly sized district. School boards should also take into consideration how skill sets are executed and use the information to develop advertisements and interview questions to match their district size. Examples of interview questions boards could utilize are included in this study.

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