Mid-level leadership is key to a functioning university and it is important that mid-level leaders feel they have the tools and resources they need in order to succeed. To be successful in a new mid-level leadership position, entering supervisors must clearly communicate a strong sense of vision, values, and principles to their staff and establish positive relationships to encourage inclusivity, support, and effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to determine what higher education institutions can do to prepare staff for a successful transition into mid-level management and leadership roles successfully. This purpose was achieved by identifying successes and challenges that current mid-level leaders at higher education institutions have experienced while transitioning into their current or past roles, and examining how they were able to successfully employ their leadership and navigate pitfalls in their new mid-level leadership positions. Data were collected from 15 mid-level leaders in higher education in the form of a 13-question, semi-structured interview format, which focused on their past recollections of transitioning into a mid-level leadership role. The key findings of the study yielded 54 themes that answered 4 research questions. In particular, being a supervisor and a colleague was the primary challenge associated with mid-level leadership. Additionally, study participants indicated that having a comprehensive training/onboarding program, specifically for mid-level leaders, would allow for a better chance of a successful mid-level transition into a new campus environment or department. As a result of the study findings, a framework of advice emerged for aspiring and current mid-level leaders transitioning into a new mid-level role and suggestions for effective initiatives that higher education institutions could employ was provided to assist in helping a new mid-level leader successfully transition into one’s role.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Middle managers -- Training of -- Research; Organizational behavior; Employee motivation

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;