Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Marion, Russ

Committee Member

Olson , Laura

Committee Member

Campbell , Mike

Committee Member

Klar , Hans


To become a principal in South Carolina, one must have teaching experience, a master's degree, and certification in the area of primary responsibility. Beyond what is learned through coursework, internships, and certification tests, what intangible factors critically influence a principal's actions and decisions, and (ultimately) success? Trait theory begs the question of whether any of these criteria truly influences the decisions and actions of the principalship. Are there interactive traits of leadership that describe the behaviors of school principals? This study revisits trait theory by examining leader attributes relative to the principalship of South Carolina public schools. This study replicates, with a minor modification, the trait and skills domains of the Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader (2004) model in an educational setting. Sensemaking was added to the proximal attributes identified by Zaccaro et al. Attributes studied include personality, cognitive abilities, motives and values, problem-solving skills, social appraisal skills, sensemaking, and expertise/tacit knowledge. These data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and structural equation modeling (SEM). Data analysis failed to support the leadership model presented by Zaccaro et al. (2004); instead, a new leadership model emerged. Despite relatively strong path coeffcients, the structural equation leadership model was unable to explain a significant amount of variance in the model.