The authors examined 16 US women school administrators' experiences with role conflict and role discontinuity within their first one to five years of transitioning from teaching to administration. Findings from this theory-building, qualitative study indicate that this transition triggered role conflicts that emerged from the participants' movement from the relatively private and intimate domain of the classroom where they focused on instruction and students, to the public domain of the school and community where they shifted their focus to managerial and political responsibilities. In an effort to resolve this tension, the participants employed a cognitive strategy whereby they attempted to retain their identity as teachers. Study findings suggest that principal leadership programs should help aspirants develop strategies to cope with role conflict and role discontinuity. Alternative frameworks for conceptualizing school leadership (e.g. distributed leadership) may also help principals to manage these problems and challenges.