Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Fred Galloway, EdD, Member; Jeffrey Sheldon, PhD, Member


Transformational Leadership, Incremental Theory, Growth Mindset, International Schools


At the heart of educational leadership is the ability to manage change. Leaders who can successfully manage change invariably will be more effective. This is especially true in the often-transient world of international schools, where change happens frequently in response to evolving internal and external environments.

K-12 international schools that use the English language as the medium of instruction have proliferated since the end of the Cold War. There has been exponential growth, especially in China, India, and other developed and developing nations. The quality of leadership in these schools is extremely important to stakeholders, especially students, and, consequently, it is important that those hiring managers/leaders for such schools hire people who have what Dweck called an incremental/growth mindset which is defined as people who believe that their intelligence and talents are malleable.

The purpose of this quantitative research study was to understand the relationship, if any, between international school leadership team members’ preferred leadership styles and their embrace of an incremental/growth mindset. The study surveyed 122 middle- and senior-level international school leaders. The survey instrument included (a) demographic questions; (b) items from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) developed by Bass & Avolio which assessed whether a leader embraces what Burns characterized as transformative or transactional leadership styles; and (c) questions adapted from the Implicit Theories of Intelligence scale developed by Dweck to determine whether leaders hold more of an incremental/growth mindset or a fixed mindset. The collected data were analyzed using both independent sample t-tests and multiple regression analysis.

The findings from this study indicate those hiring leaders can reasonably infer whether a candidate is likely to have a growth mindset once they determine if the candidate’s leadership style is not laissez-faire. In fact, the findings indicate that a growth mindset is negatively associated with a preference for a laissez-faire leadership style, even though there were no statistically significant findings linking either transformational or transactional leadership with the growth mindset construct. The impact of these findings can lead to selecting leadership candidates committed to making whatever changes are necessary to ensure student success.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies