Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Ethical Principal Leadership Through Acts of Virtue: A Phenomenology

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Paul Willis (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Salim Elwazani (Other)

Third Advisor

Tracy Huziak-Clark (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Kevin Pfefferle (Committee Member)


This study addressed the lack of emphasis and understanding related to the benefits of the practice of ethical principal leadership. The purpose of this study, to address the noted problem, was to explore the practice of principal ethical leadership through acts of virtue and was viewed through the Framework of Foundational Virtues of Educational Leadership: consisting of the virtues of responsibility, authenticity, and presence (Starratt, 2004). This phenomenological study consisted of interviewing six principals in Northwest Ohio. Data were collected through interviews, observations, and written personal codes of ethics. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed in conjunction with other noted forms of data. This data produced the essence of the practice of ethical principal leadership through acts of virtue via the following five themes: the virtue of responsibility, the virtue of authenticity, the virtue of presence, the virtue of perseverance, and student centrality. The identified essence and themes of the study provide a greater understanding of, and benefits related to, the practice of ethical principal leadership through acts of virtue. Also, this study expands the literature related to ethical leadership and principal leadership by identifying practical and theoretical implications that impact both areas of leadership.