Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-5-2023


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Deborah Scigliano

Committee Member

Dr. Amy M. Olson

Committee Member

Dr. James E. Wortman


relationships, leadership, school culture, school climate


The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify leadership qualities and practices that nurture relationships in school settings. The central question framing this study was: What leadership tools and traits foster effective relationships in rural school communities? I conducted semi-structured interviews in a small Northwestern school district. Non-classroom leaders and classroom leaders, who will be referred to using pseudonyms, were recruited from the elementary, middle, and high schools based on recommendations from the district’s superintendent. Prior to conducting interviews, participants were provided with a framework based on Kouzes and Posner’s (2017) exemplary leadership practices and asked to choose five artifacts to share regarding their relevance to the framework. Interview questions were purposefully designed to gain insight to the participants’ lived experiences regarding leadership behaviors which impact relationships. Using the process of coding, I analyzed the data and developed a detailed description of each participant’s responses. From these descriptions, I identified key themes for understanding the nexus of leadership and relationships. Themes included visionary, providing opportunities, reflective practices, and relationships. The findings of this study confirmed the significant influence that school leaders have on school culture and climate when relationships are prioritized. Findings correlated with the five exemplary leadership practices identified by Kouzes and Posner (2017).