The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

David Lund

Third Advisor

James Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Laurie Putnam

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Leadership characteristics during a emergency crisis incident


The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify select Minnesota secondary principals' (1) report on principal’s essential leadership characteristics and practices used when leading their stakeholders through a global pandemic, school closures, and transition to distance learning; (2) to analyze how select Minnesota secondary school principals’ personal beliefs and attributes align with the Top 4 Characteristics of Admired Leaders (CAL) from Kouzes & Posner Leadership Challenge and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership model and (3) provide current and future school administrators with best practices on emergency preparedness in navigating through a crisis incident.

Three select Minnesota lead secondary principals were selected to participate in the study from a recommended list of principals who had successful outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic school closure and transition into distance learning. Data was collected in the form of structured in-depth interviews. The findings from the study identified the essential leadership characteristics deemed necessary reported by the selected principals were collaboration, vision, communication, and solution-focused decision-making. The effective practices principals reported implementing were digital communication, stakeholder surveys, staff, team, and professional learning collaboration meetings, distance learning daily schedules, student/staff device planning, and staff-student check-in meetings. Study also found the principals' personal beliefs and attributes were consistent and aligned with the Top 4 Characteristics of Admired Leaders (CAL) model of honesty, competence, inspiration, and forward-looking and utilizing the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership model. Each principal reported modeling the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. The study provides current and future administrators with recommendations and best practice strategies reported by the principals on four vital elements during an emergency crisis incident and specially during the Covid-19 pandemic such as a crisis plan, Covid-19 health, and safety of stakeholders, and knowing themselves as a leader.


I am truly blessed and thankful for God the Father above. I am forever grateful to my ancestors who fought for my right to have an education. I am thankful for my grandparents and mom, Maria who instilled the value of education in me. To my amazing wife Dua who has been my rock through this dissertation journey. I am grateful for my children, Aliya and Mikayla, and my sister, Lisa, Dua Nu, brother Kenny and the entire Harris, Hardy, Yang family, and all my friends whose constant love and support have help guide my decisions throughout the years that led to my accomplishments. I want to inspire and empower my family and friends to be the best versions of themselves, so we continue to leave the legacy of education and learning for our family.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to my advisor, Dr. John Eller, whose encouragement and invaluable insights through this journey. Dr. Eller embraces the practice of growing education leaders, and his impact reaches far beyond the college campus. I want to thank Dr. James Johnson and Dr. Lund for their knowledgeable contributions. I would also like to recognize Dr. Laurie Putnam. As a mentor and friend who believed I would complete the doctoral journey.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.