A national crisis currently exists, the urgent need to provide a high quality education and close existing achievement gaps for students living in poverty is a critical function of schooling that these students have yet to experience and must be remedied through the nation's best hope...school leadership. This study utilized an integrative survey approach to investigate how to turnaround schools by identifying leadership practices and styles to effectively influence student achievement outcomes. Specifically, a cohort of 28 southern California turnaround schools, nine principals from this cohort, and 15 teachers from one of these participant principal's school were included in this study. Results suggest that the effective turnaround principal is the one who can establish the characteristics of a modern effective school using transformational change through their understanding of organizational theory as they navigate the school to higher levels of performance and then require continuous improvement. Turnaround principals appear to utilize a combination of cluster leadership competencies and core leadership actions. These cluster competencies and turnaround actions together describe the what, how, and who of successful school turnarounds. As schools face failure for their students, the enduring status quo and a bleak future prevails. Therefore, effective turnaround principals may serve as a symbol of hope; possibly influencing university training programs as well as district hiring, placement, training, and evaluation protocols. The leadership context founded in cluster leadership competencies and critical leadership actions seems to be the effective tool for these turnaround leaders to date. Further research is needed to better understand this turnaround phenomenon.