Mid-Level Community College Leaders and Competencies for Success: A Qualitative Study

Streaming Media

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (EdD)

Committee Chair

Bora Pajo

Committee Member

Chad Weirick

Committee Member

Valerie Storey


Mid-level leaders are caught in the middle of their organizational hierarchy, reporting to senior administrators while also leading or managing entry-level staff (Bodine Al-Sharif, García, & McNaughtan, 2021). They are often asked to collaborate, build relationships, and share information with college and community stakeholders and in the community (Baber, 2020). However, midlevel leaders are often overlooked with regards to professional development (McPhail & McPhail, 2020). There is also a severe lack of research specific to this group’s needs and experiences, although it is the largest nonacademic professional grouping in community colleges (Eddy, VanDerLinden, & Hartman, 2023). To address the gap in knowledge on mid-level leaders, I conducted a qualitative study of emerging staff leaders at a larger Midwestern community college. This study adds to existing literature on competencies for community college leadership, with a primary goal of assessing the experiences of mid-level managers and leadership skills for success through a qualitative study. A goal for this study was to gather takeaways for future leadership development. The valuable information gleaned from this study can inform objectives for leadership development trainings to ensure that they are truly pertinent to leaders at the middle level of community colleges. Participants identified several training priorities, such as conflict management, communication styles, diversity, and clarification of institutional policy. The findings support those of other studies on mid-level leaders which characterized this group as champions of communication and collaboration within the college (Amey, Garza Mitchell, Rosales, & Giardello, 2020).