Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Christopher Wagner (Chair), Dr. Kyong Hee Chon, Dr. Tabitha Daniel, Dr. William Schlinker

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


This study of 2,802 teachers and 129 school administrators sought to determine the gender, leadership traits, and leadership behaviors most preferred by teachers in Kentucky. Principals were also surveyed to establish which traits they felt were most important for a school leader to possess, and to determine the frequency at which they practiced various leadership behaviors.

Participants were from 194 public elementary, middle, and high schools in thirty-two Kentucky school districts. Leadership traits were based on Marzano, Waters, and McNulty’s (2005) twenty-one responsibilities of school leaders. Teachers and principals were asked to indicate the level of importance for school administrators to practice each of the twenty-one traits. The leadership behaviors portion of the surveys included eight transactional and eight transformational behaviors, which were not identified in the survey as such. Teachers were asked to determine how important it was for principals to exhibit the behaviors, while principals self-assessed the frequency at which they practiced each of the leadership behaviors.

Results indicated that while the majority of male and female teachers had no preference in regard to their principal’s gender, each group had a significantly higher preference for males. Teachers and administrators in nearly every demographic category (gender, years of experience, grade level of school, leadership experience, and education level) chose communication as the most important trait for a principal to possess. Other traits, including discipline, culture, visibility, and focus, were among those deemed most important by both teachers and principals. Teachers generally had a higher preference for transformational behaviors rather than transactional behaviors, and principals indicated that the behaviors they practiced were more often transformational.

Implications for practice include opportunities for school leaders to analyze their own traits and behaviors and compare them to those most highly preferred by teachers. University preparation programs can present the findings to aspiring administrators. Schools and districts can use the survey format for principal selection and to evaluate whether principals’ traits and behaviors match those desired by faculty.


Educational Administration and Supervision | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration