Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

James S. Rinehart

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


The link between emotional intelligence and successful leadership in all organizations, including schools, is becoming stronger as new research is continually added to the field. Although it has already been established that emotionally intelligent leaders have a positive impact on the performance of their organization, research on the emotional intelligence specific to leaders of high-achieving middle schools is still evolving. Since emotional intelligence is a learned trait, this is especially important at the middle school level, where our nations' middle school students are falling woefully behind the majority of their international counterparts.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the emotional intelligence of principals of high-achieving middle schools and to determine whether these principals score higher in certain emotional intelligence competencies. Participants in this study were a sample of middle school principals serving in schools that were designated as a Middle School to Watch (MSTW), which is a nationally renowned recognition program for successful middle schools. This research is a quantitative study, employing descriptive and inferential statistics, analysis of variance, and correlational research designs. The independent variables include the demographic variables of principal gender, school socioeconomic status, and school's location in a rural vs. non-rural area. The dependent variable is the emotional intelligence scores of these principals as measured by the Emotional Competence Inventory 2.0 (ECI 2.0). The ECI 2.0 has internal reliabilities ranging from .68 to .87, measured using Chronbach's Alpha, for each of the eighteen emotional intelligence competencies.

Data was collected from survey respondents (n = 280) identified by participating national MSTW principals (n = 34) from 14 states. The analysis of data resulted in the following findings for the population represented in this study: principals of national MSTW exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence; there is no common set of emotional intelligent competencies shared by this group of MSTW principals; and, emotional intelligence of MSTW principals is not impacted by demographic factors of principal gender, location of the school, socioeconomic status of the school, or minority enrollment of the school.