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A framework for leadership development



Despite the tremendous amount of time, money, and energy spent by practitioners and scholars alike to understand, promote, and facilitate effective leadership development, the field is still far from fully understanding what is often regarded as both art and science. That is not to suggest, however, that the field's efforts have failed to result in substantial progress. Indeed, after defining some salient concepts and the overall scope of this chapter, we review some of the major theoretical and empirical advances in leadership development. Furthermore, the trends and 'best practices' dominant in today's organizations in leadership development are then summarized and considered in light of the current academic trends to identify points of congruence and disconnect. With this foundation, we offer an approach to leadership development that builds on this current understanding. Our model does not offer a specific set of methodologies or instructional tools per se, but rather a framework to incorporate these modalities in a thoughtful, goal-driven, and comprehensive instructional approach designed to achieve specific, measurable, organizational objectives. Finally, we conclude this chapter with recommendations for future efforts to advance relevant research, to focus the teaching of leadership in the university classroom, and to improve the efficacy of current and future leadership development programs in practice.
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A Framework for Leadership
George A. Hrivnak Jr., Rebecca J. Reichard &
Ronald E. Riggio
Despite the tremendous amount of time,
money, and energy spent by practitioners
and scholars alike to understand, promote,
and facilitate effective leadership develop-
ment, the field is still far from fully under-
standing what is often regarded as both art
and science. That is not to suggest, however,
that the field’s efforts have failed to result in
substantial progress. Indeed, after defining
some salient concepts and the overall scope
of this chapter, we review some of the major
theoretical and empirical advances in leader-
ship development. Furthermore, the trends
and ‘best practices’ dominant in today’s
organizations in leadership development are
then summarized and considered in light
of the current academic trends to identify
points of congruence and disconnect. With
this foundation, we offer an approach to
leadership development that builds on this
current understanding. Our model does
not offer a specific set of methodologies
or instructional tools per se, but rather
a framework to incorporate these modalities
in a thoughtful, goal-driven, and compre-
hensive instructional approach designed to
achieve specific, measurable, organizational
objectives. Finally, we conclude this chapter
with recommendations for future efforts
to advance relevant research, to focus the
teaching of leadership in the university
classroom, and to improve the efficacy of
current and future leadership development
programs in practice.
Effective leadership is commonly believed
to be an essential element of organizational
success. The positive outcomes associated
with effective leadership are numerous,
including higher levels of individual com-
mitment (e.g. Chen, 2004); satisfaction,
(e.g. Fuller & Patterson, 1996); effort
(e.g. Bass, 1999); effectiveness (e.g. Bass,
1985; Lowe, Croecke, & Sivasubramaniam,
1996); and team outcomes (e.g. Burke
et al., 2006) to name but a few. Not sur-
prisingly, leadership development is often the
focus of a significant amount of organizational
resources with respect to attracting, retaining,
and developing leaders at all levels of the
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organization. In fact, U.S. organizations spend
an estimated $30 billion (Training, 2005) to
$50 billion (Lockwood, 2006) on leadership
development annually. This premium on the
value of leadership exists in organizational
contexts ranging from business to government
to the military and across many, if not all
cultural boundaries. Given the importance of
leadership and the amount of time, attention,
and resources devoted to its development,
it is easy to appreciate why the study of
leadership has become one of the most heavily
researched areas within the social sciences
over the last few decades (Reichard &
Avolio, 2005). Due to these efforts, our
collective understanding of leaders, followers,
and leadership has advanced significantly, if
somewhat disjointedly (Burns, 1978).
In response to the query, ‘are leaders born or
made?’, the appropriate response seems to be
‘both’. While some dispute the ‘trainability’of
leadership (e.g. Barker, 1997), it appears that
successful leaders across a variety of cultural
contexts are likely to possess some com-
mon abilities and characteristics (e.g. House
& Aditya, 1997; House, Hanges, Javidan,
Dorfman & Gupta, 2004). But perhaps a
more important ingredient is the amount and
type of developmental experiences that one
accumulates to enable personal growth as
a leader (Caliguri, 2006; McCauley, Drath,
Palus, O’Connor & Baker, 2006). Researchers
have suggested that approximately 30–
32 percent of leadership role occupancy is
determined by genetics while the remaining
majority is due to environmental factors
(Arvey, Rotundo, Johnson, Zhang & McCue,
2006; Arvey, Zhang,Avolio & Krueger,2007).
Furthermore, the evidence from a number
of studies has demonstrated that at least
some elements of leadership can be trained
(e.g. Dvir, Eden, Avolio & Shamir, 2002;
Parry & Sinha, 2005; Thomas & Greenberger,
1998). More recently, a meta-analysis of
leader development interventions found that
leaders undergoing training have a 73 percent
chance of positive outcomes compared to
those in a control group (Reichard, Hughes,
Avolio, Hannah, Chan & Walumbwa, unpub-
lished manuscript).
Other recent leadership perspectives based
on individual identity, social identification
processes, and stages of adult development
(Collinson, 2006; Lord & Hall, 2005;
McCauley et al., 2006; van Knippenberg,
van Knippenberg, de Cremer & Hogg,
2004) seem to emphasize the individual and
collective change within and between leaders
and followers through social psychological
processes. While we respect these and other
extant views and acknowledge that the field
is far from having a unified position on the
matter, we contend that sufficient evidence
and theory exist to offer some informed
guidance on the development of leadership
that draws from multiple perspectives. We
begin this chapter with the well-supported
assumption that leaders and leadership can be
Within the leadership domain, there are a
number of conceptual ambiguities. Before
continuing, it may be useful to address
some important conceptual distinctions and
assumptions underlying our ideas. The first,
perhaps overemphasized distinction is in
regard to the overlapping concepts of leaders
and leadership as compared to managers and
management. Managers and the processes
of management have been characterized
as mechanistic and primarily focused on
efficient performance. In contrast, leaders
and leadership are frequently defined as
being principally concerned with vision,
direction, and the organic growth of fol-
lowers and the organization (Locke, 1999).
These broad, overly simplified views are
captured in the oft-repeated maxim that
managers ‘do things right’, while leaders
‘do the right thing’ (Bennis & Nanus,
1985). While there seems to be some value
in these definitions, these roles are often
much more ambiguous and overlapping than
implied. Rather than joining the debate, we
recognize that the position of power and
authority granted through a managerial role
is not a necessary or sufficient condition for
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effective leadership. Similarly, one can be
explicitly recognized or implicitly perceived
as a leader without the trappings of a
formal title or position. For the purposes
of this review, we do not highlight distinc-
tions between management and leadership
Another important distinction is the dif-
ference between training and development.
The human resources literature commonly
distinguishes these two areas along a few
important dimensions (Fitzgerald, 1982).
Training typically refers to targeted activities
designed to remediate a skill or perfor-
mance gap in an employee’s current job.
Alternatively, while development activities
may help employees in their current role;
the emphasis of these efforts is usually on
preparing employees for future assignments
or enabling long-term organizational goals
(Bartz, Schwandt & Hillman, 1989). Thus, the
choice of terms in the concept of leadership
development seems appropriate. While lead-
ership development activities may improve
an individual’s leadership effectiveness in
his or her current role, the focus of such
activities is in cultivating leadership capacity
for future organizational assignments. The
distinction is important because it impacts
not only the design and implementation
of leadership development programs, but
also the time frame for which the impacts
should be measured in assessing program
More recently, Day (2000) differentiated
between the concepts of leader development
and leadership development. By the former,
he referred to an individual-based focus
on developing such human capital as the
knowledge, skills, and abilities required by
formal leadership roles. For example, leader
development refers to formal training, job
rotation, and off-site workshops. In contrast,
when defining leadership development, Day
focused on the building of social capital,
which refers to the networked relationships
among employees. Leadership development
emphasizes building and using interpersonal
competence. It also entails enhancing the
capabilities of all group members with respect
to leadership (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004).
In sum, leader development focuses on an
individual level process of building human
capital, and leadership development expands
the collective capacity of employees and
the building of social capital. While this
conceptual distinction is valid and important,
we will use the term leadership development
inclusively of both leader and leadership
development here.
The remainder of this chapter is structured
as follows. First, we summarize some of
the major theoretical developments regard-
ing leadership and compare these with the
dominant trends and ‘best practices’ of
leadership development in an attempt to
identify points of congruence and disconnect.
We will then offer an approach to leadership
development that builds on this foundation.
Our model does not outline a specific set of
methodologies or instructional tools per se,
but rather provides a framework to incorporate
these modalities in a thoughtful, goal-driven,
and comprehensive approach designed to
achieve specific, measurable, individual and
organizational objectives. We conclude the
chapter with recommendations for future
research, pedagogy, and practice in regard to
leadership development.
While some have argued that there are
no comprehensive existing theories of lead-
ership development (Day, 2000; Day &
Halpin, 2004), practitioners have oftentimes
relied on existing theories of leadership
as a framework for content and evalu-
ation of developmental interventions. For
example, training based on the Situational
Leadership Model prescribes to leaders the
appropriate balance of task versus rela-
tionship oriented behavior to engage in
depending on the maturity level of follow-
ers (Hersey & Blanchard, 1982; Hersey,
Angelini & Carakashansky, 1982). Other
examples include Fiedler and colleagues’
LEADER MATCH program based on the
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contingency theory of leadership (Fiedler &
Mahar, 1979) and Avolio’s (1999) full
leadership development program was based
on transformational leadership theory. More
recently, Avolio and colleagues proposed
an approach to leadership development
based on the nascent concept of authentic
leadership development (Avolio, Gardner,
Walumbwa, Luthans & May, 2004; Gardner,
Avolio, Luthans, May & Walumbwa, 2005;
Luthans & Avolio, 2003). So while the
focus of scholars has historically favored
explicating the process of leadership itself,
the field seems to be directing increas-
ing attention to specifically bridging the
gap between theory and practice in regard
to the processes by which leadership is
The focus of this chapter is not to debate the
single best theory or definition of leadership.
As others have already observed, there
are myriad definitions, with few consistent
themes (Yukl, 2006). Rather, we feel it is
far better to follow the recommendation of
Yukl & Van Fleet (1992) to use these various
perspectives to our collective advantage so as
to eventually develop sufficient understanding
to begin to arrive at some type of consensus
in our thinking. Furthermore, this diversity
in perspectives may actually prove beneficial
to both theory and practice. Simply making
people aware of the theoretical variety and
lack of consensus can help emphasize the
point that there is no one best way to lead.
As a result, recognizing and examining our
current understanding of leadership and its
shortcomings may actually help to break down
our implicit theories of leadership and allow
more nuanced ways to think about the topic.
While theories and definitions of leadership
abound, the scholarly literature regarding
leadership development is relatively scarce.
As with the broader field of leadership,
leadership development still lacks a generally-
accepted comprehensive model to guide
research and practice (Lord & Hall, 2005).
Much of the existing empirical research
has largely focused on singular methods
of leadership development rather than more
comprehensive approaches. The extant lead-
ership development literature is heavily
skewed toward research investigating specific
development technologies such as multi-
rater feedback, coaching, job rotation, action
learning, and classroom training (Day, 2000).
Similarly, formal classroom training, exec-
utive development programs, and off-site
meetings are the norm for many leadership
programs. Thus, lacking a broadly accepted
guiding logic, it seems that scholars and
practitioners alike too often fail to address the
basic questions of who, what, where, when,
how, and why of leadership development.
In the sections that follow, we do hope
to advance this discussion by identifying
and discussing the essential elements to be
considered in such a model.
Some authors have suggested that because
leadership is a participative process, it can
be enacted regardless of role (Day & Halpin,
2004). Pearce and Conger (2003) have argued
that in today’s organizations, leadership is
more likely to be shared among organizational
members rather than being concentrated
among top leaders. Since the argument can
be made that most, if not all leader com-
petencies are just as important to followers
(i.e. non-leaders), all organizational members
should ideally be included in leadership devel-
opment efforts. While this sounds like a fine
and egalitarian idea, the cost of any significant
leadership development effort would likely
be prohibitive for most organizations. On
the other hand, failing to have a strategic
rationale for selection criterion will undoubt-
edly result in various forms of organizational
conflict. Thus, the question of who should
be included in an organization’s leadership
development program is yet another reason
why such programs need to be defined
in relation to the organization’s goals and
environment. A classic example is AT&T’s
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well-documented program initiated in the
1950s to identify and develop potential leaders
early in their careers (Bray, Campbell &
Grant, 1974).
Needless to say, the question of who should
be included is not singularly focused at
the individual level. That would simply be
leader development. Our emphasis includes
leadership development, and is thus relational.
In other words, it must consider the social
context of the leader and must incorporate
group level, multi-level, and organization
level considerations as appropriate. Although
much of this development comes from the
establishment and growth of organizational
relationships over time, awareness of these
issues and approaches to fostering these
relationships would seem to be topics
amenable to developmental interventions.
Unfortunately, organizations cannot
assume that all of its members are interested
in or capable of continuous learning. This
idea has been referred to by Avolio (1999)
and others as developmental readiness.
Hannah (2006) defined developmental
readiness as both an ability and orientation
to attend to and make meaning of feedback.
Reichard (2006) stated that developmental
readiness is based on the leader’s level of
learning goal orientation, developmental
efficacy, and most importantly, motivation
to develop. Consequently, participation
selection focused on those individuals with
relatively higher degree of readiness is likely
to be more successful and reduce the chance
of squandering organizational resources.
Thus, these considerations serve as a starting
point for determining the organization’s
leadership requirements.
There are two general considerations when
determining the content of leadership devel-
opment. First, asking what leadership compe-
tencies should be incorporated in a leadership
development program assumes, of course,
that such capabilities can be learned. This
inevitability leads to the so-called state
versus trait, debate. While many traits such
as intelligence and personality, have been
shown to be positively associated with
leadership, the relative stability of such con-
structs precludes development (Fleishman,
Zaccaro & Mumford, 1991, 1992a, 1992b).
Leadership development efforts should there-
fore be focused on building those facets
of leadership which are viewed as more
malleable, state-like, and open to devel-
opment. So while intelligence may be
regarded as fairly stable, related skills
such as critical thinking, decision making,
and a systems perspective may be more
responsive to development efforts. Further,
Luthans and colleagues demonstrated the
development of the positive psychological
capital states of hope, optimism, efficacy,
and resiliency through a micro-intervention
(Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman & Combs,
2006). At a higher level of analysis,
another state-like outcome of leadership
development programs should be an increase
in the density of the social network of
organizational members . Much of the focus
on these types of characteristics is on leader
The second consideration – which arguably
faces less dispute – is the importance
of social competencies. These interpersonal
skills (e.g. communication, empathy, conflict
management) enable individuals to establish
the relational ties among group members
through which communication, trust, and
commitment can be developed (Brass &
Krackhardt, 1999). Embedded within this
emergent network of social relationships is
the information, control, and other resources
collectively referred to as social capital (Burt,
1992, 1997). Thus, the significance of Day’s
(2000) distinction is the recognition of the
necessity of a dual focus on developing
both human capital (leader development) and
social capital (leadership development).
In any case, the lack of consensus regarding
these issues has certainly not prevented
academics, consultants and organizations
alike from defining and advocating their opin-
ions. Acknowledging the inherent ambiguity
of the situation, we contend that some set of
salient competencies for a given organization
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can be determined through appropriate task
and personnel analysis to understanding the
gap between existing leadership capacity
and estimated requirements. Ultimately, the
content of a specific leadership development
program should generally be driven by that
organization’s specific goals and context.
However, we also believe that at least three
areas deserve specific consideration in any
leadership development effort.
Emotions. Research and debate in affect,
mood, and emotions has risen exponentially
in the management literature. Subsequently,
researchers and practitioners alike have made
extensive efforts focused on understanding
and enhancing the emotional competencies of
leaders and their followers (Boyatzis, 2007;
Lord & Hall, 2004; Riggio & Lee, 2007).
While an ability-based model of emotional
intelligence appears to have some merit and
emotions undoubtedly plays a role in the
relational processes of leadership, the field
is far from agreeing on the precise nature
of its influence. Indeed, a recent review of
the emotional intelligence literature cautioned
against embracing unsubstantiated claims
regarding the concept and encouraged a more
evidence-based approach to its explanation
(Jordan, Ashton-James & Ashkanasy, 2006).
Chapter 9 in this volume by Ashkanasy
and colleagues is a thorough review of this
important topic and highlights some of the
major issues and concerns.
Culture. With the rise of globalization
and the increasing propensity for cross-
cultural interactions, developing leaders for
international assignments is another area of
growing importance for leaders and followers
alike (Javidan & House, 2001; Jung & Avolio,
1999; Offermann & Matos, 2007). Although
relatively few studies have examined leader-
ship in or across various cultures (Gerstner &
Day, 1994), addressing this shortfall in the
literature appears to be a focus for a growing
number of researchers. Of this work, the
GLOBE study of leadership and culture in
62 countries is the most recognized of these
recent contributions. The findings of the
GLOBE research program suggest that while
leadership universals may exist in all forms of
leadership, the status and influence of leaders
varies considerably across cultures (House
et al., 2004). This study provides a wealth
of findings with important implications for
leadership’s cultural contexts and leadership
development efforts. As Schein (1992) aptly
noted, culture is the context of leadership and
one cannot be thoroughly understood without
consideration of the other.
Diversity. Of course cultural values are not
the only source of difference among individu-
als. Gender, age, race, religious belief, sexual
orientation, and other factors all combine to
various degrees to reflect a rich diversity in
most, if not all leadership contexts. Given
the mechanisms of globalization mentioned
above and other ongoing socioeconomic
trends, social diversity is a reality that must be
incorporated into our understanding of leader-
ship (Chin & Sanchez-Hucles, 2007) and must
be systemically embraced by practitioners
and researchers alike. Successful leadership
development efforts not only must help
leaders understand how to address diversity
issues, but must also help to remove barriers
to minority participation in leadership. These
barriers include social stereotypes, a lack of
mentors, inadequate networking opportuni-
ties, work–life balance challenges, and other
barriers (Kilian, Hukai & McCarty, 2005). It
is therefore incumbent upon all of us involved
with the development of leadership to address
these issues in our work so that the outcomes
of such efforts reflect the diversity of today’s
From an organizational perspective, the
answer to the question of why a leadership
development program should be implemented
often involves a desire to improve an
organization’s leadership capability in terms
of quality, quantity, or both. However, having
a clear understanding of the organization’s
goals and what role leadership plays in the
achievement of those goals is the essence of
a more meaningful answer to this question.
Leadership development ultimately needs to
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be driven by the specific goals, strategies,
and needs of the organization and the salient
elements of the organizational environment.
Interestingly, it is often the case that a shift
in one or more of these driving factors results
in a crisis that becomes the impetus for the
creation of a leadership development process.
This could be a shortage of experienced
leaders to support the firm’s international
expansion strategy or a shift to a new
organizational structure with an emphasis
on self-managed teams. Whatever the case,
the contextual dependence of leadership
development also helps to answer the question
of ‘where’ leadership development should
occur. Although this issue will be addressed
again later, it is important to ensure that
much of leadership development takes place
in the organizational environment in which
the leadership behavior is expected to occur,
increasing the likelihood of transfer of
Another important consideration here
is a major concern of all training and
development interventions: implementing
a leadership development program is not the
solution if the problems affecting leadership
in the organization are a result of some other
performance-related issue. These types of
issues often involve poor or inadequate goals,
roles, tasks, feedback systems, reward or
recognition mechanisms, and other related
issues. Another benefit of conducting a proper
organizational assessment is the identification
of these instances where the root issue cannot
be addressed through the intervention of
a leadership development program.
What methods should be employed in
fostering leadership development? As with
many other aspects of leadership develop-
ment, it is useful to draw from the adult learn-
ing literature. Our assumption is that consider-
ation of relevant adult learning factors can aid
comprehension, internalization, retention, and
the likelihood of appropriate application of
the learning experiences that are incorporated
into a well-designed leadership development
program. For example, adults, like individuals
at other stages of development, seem to
have preferred learning styles (Kolb, 1984).
While there are numerous typologies of
these learning styles and significant debate
exists among scholars regarding the con-
struct and its assessment (Cassidy, 2004),
the concept nevertheless seems worthy of
consideration. Still, our contention is that
when an individual’s preferred learning style
is engaged, overall learning effectiveness and
efficiency is enhanced. Also, when an individ-
ual’s preferred learning style is understood,
the learning experience in a leadership
development program can be tailored to
this preference to improve effectiveness.
However, when the learner’s preferred style is
unclear or there are multiple types of learners
involved in a learning activity, a variety of
methods and techniques should be employed
to address the multitude of styles.
Another important consideration in adult
development is that adults have accumulated
knowledge and experience that can either
contribute to or hinder a learning experience.
Indeed, Dewey (1938) noted that all genuine
learning is derived from experience (though
not all experience provides learning). Prior
experience can serve as a useful starting point
or framework for future learning. However,
experiences that contribute to inappropriate
schemas or perceptions may need to be
reevaluated and modified in order for new
learning to take place (Dewey, 1938). The
significant influence of personal experience
also suggests that an emphasis on informal,
experiential learning methods that build on
the existing knowledge and experience of the
learner are likely to be more effective than
formal training methods (Kempster, 2006;
Kolb, 1984). These types of learning envi-
ronments can help to convey the application
and value of what is being learned and
makes the transfer of new skills or knowledge
easier for the participants in the leadership
development program. Interestingly, class-
room and similarly artificial environments
are often used for leadership training.
While these settings may have their usefulness
for conveying facts and information or for
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reflecting on recent learning activities, they
cannot provide the developmental impact of
When should these competencies be devel-
oped? Are some skills more important for
certain roles within the organization? Is there
a sequencing of competency development
that enables development or maximizes the
impact of the overall effort? Like the other
questions of leadership development, there
are numerous interacting considerations in
the answer to this question. Despite the fact
that considerable research is needed, some
initial answers to this question can be inferred
from the context, structure, and processes
of the organization. Other insights can be
inferred from existing evidence and best
Defining the organization’s sequence of
leadership competency development is only
part of the answer to these questions. Another
important consideration here is the notion of
changing social roles and individual values.
The notion that adults have multiple and
shifting social roles and progress through peri-
ods of transition and stability as they mature
exists in psychology, education, management,
and other fields (e.g. Erikson, 1982; Hoare,
2006; McCauley et al., 2006). These dynamics
suggest that the personal value and meaning
that an individual derives from his or her
job, career, and organization of employment
is likely to change over time. These shifting
priorities influence the amount of effort and
sacrifice that an individual is likely to commit
toward leadership development. In the same
way, since motivation can be enhanced by
offering rewards that are valued by the
individual, the nature of these rewards needs
to be tailored to the needs and values of
that individual. For these reasons alone, it is
important to remember that the timing and
pace of leadership development is unique to
each individual and is significantly impacted
by factors outside of the organizational
In summary, addressing these fundamental
questions of leadership development is a use-
ful starting point for identifying relevant
issues and implicit assumptions. Even if the
existing theoretical and empirical support is
lacking in regard to many of these questions,
the extant literature and lessons from current
best practices do provide sufficient basis
to begin to develop a guiding framework
for more rigorous testing and continued
Building on these core issues, we now present
our conceptual framework for designing an
effective leadership development program.
Our objective here is not to outline a specific
set of methodologies or instructional tools
per se, but rather provide a way to incorporate
these modalities in a thoughtful, goal-driven,
and comprehensive instructional approach
designed to achieve specific, measurable,
organizational objectives. Although the field
still lacks a universal theory of leadership
development, we hope that the proposed
framework helps to move us closer to
this goal.
Before presenting this framework, it is
important to explicate a few critical assump-
tions derived from the previous section.
As already suggested, leadership development
is contextually dependent. As such, it would
be unrealistic to propose a ‘one-size-fits-all’
model of leadership development. Rather,
our framework identifies key considerations
for each individual organization to consider
in the design, development, delivery, and
evaluation of a comprehensive and systematic
approach to leadership development. Second,
successful leadership is far more dependent
on the progressive development of relational
and sociological competencies than on acquir-
ing specific technical knowledge or skills.
More specifically, the process of leadership
is about influencing others, directly and
indirectly, through a variety of contextually-
dependent mechanisms. Thus, our framework
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focuses on assessing and developing these
competencies to the extent that they have
been identified as important within a given
context. Third, as with the concept of
continuous or lifelong learning, there is
no ‘end state’ in leadership development.
Lastly, our contention is that leadership
development efforts are future-oriented. The
majority of the benefit from efforts made
today is reaped during subsequent leadership
situations and also by providing a basis for
continued development and learning of these
Beginning with a mutual
Leadership development, like all learning, is
ultimately the responsibility of the learner. It
is not something that an organization ‘does’to
current or future leaders, but rather something
that it helps to foster within each potential
leader. Success is largely dependent on the
willingness of the individual leader to invest
the time and energy in the endeavor, with
continual support and resources provided by
the organization in the interest of achieving
long-term organizational goals. This suggests
the value of mutual commitment between
the individual and the organization to pursue
a long-term relationship. So if individuals
have responsibility for their development,
what are the obligations of the organization
in this relationship?
First, organizations demonstrate a commit-
ment to leadership development by openly
acknowledging the importance of leader-
ship and supporting the development of
leaders from within the organization. Astated
commitment is further substantiated by
a significant commitment of resources to
the leadership development program. This is
accomplished by recognizing that leadership
development is a long-term strategic invest-
ment not unlike a commitment to research
and development. Beyond direct program
expenses, this commitment entails creating
sufficient organizational ‘slack’ to allow
for learning and growth. This is largely
a staffing consideration that allows for
sufficient organizational personnel to enable
individuals to both participate in the program
and serve various support functions such
as mentoring or providing assessments and
feedback. It also involves the development
of systems and processes to manage the
‘pipeline’ of developing leaders and the job
and project opportunities that provide the
essential context for experiential learning.
In addition to the commitment of resources,
it is imperative that the program has the
attention and focus of leaders and managers
throughout the organization. This is achieved
by integrating the leadership development
process within the organization’s other
strategic operating processes. For example,
staffing decisions should be considered as
job rotation or development assignment
opportunities for developing leaders. Another
example of organizational focus is shown
when leadership development is made part of
each leader’s job description. This includes
identifying potential leaders, mentoring and
coaching junior leaders, leading by example,
and being cognizant of their respective roles
in managing the organization’s leadership
pipeline. Thus, there are instances where the
leadership development process must be sepa-
rate from the performance evaluation process
(e.g. with respect to leaders in the program) as
well as instances when they are strategically
linked (e.g. when identifying, mentoring,
and otherwise developing future leaders is
part of a manager’s performance objectives).
Finally, leadership development programs
will be ineffective without an overarching
culture of support for learning and continuous
development. Such an organizational envi-
ronment enables and recognizes the need for
decisions to continue investment in leadership
development even during difficult situations.
It also helps to facilitate difficult staffing
and other strategic decisions that are in the
organization’s (and the leader’s) long-term
An important consideration in this regard
is whether the organization’s leadership
development model is one that is needs-based
(i.e. deficit) or strengths-based. Aneeds-based
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model takes the view that leaders lack certain
required competencies that must be devel-
oped in order to improve leadership quality.
Historically, this has been the dominant
perspective of many organizational training
and development programs. A significant
assumption here is that individuals are
capable of developing all of the identified
competencies. This view has been challenged
by the strengths-based model of leadership
development which recognizes that some
people may not be able to develop the
required competencies to the desired level.
More importantly, this perspective focuses on
an individual’s inherent strengths and focuses
on finding ways to leverage these strengths to
compensate for deficiencies in other areas. In
our view, both perspectives have their merits.
Perhaps the best solution is to use a blended
approach. Try to develop deficient compe-
tency areas, but recognize that development
may have unique limits for each individual.
When the development is insufficient, focus
on leveraging the person’s strengths and
others forms of augmentation (e.g. additional
organizational support, redefining job roles)
to compensate for the deficiency.
With this multi-faceted obligation rec-
ognized and embraced, the organizational
commitment to support the individual’s lead-
ership development efforts is defined. We will
continue to refer to aspects of the roles of both
the individual and the organization throughout
the rest of the chapter. Nonetheless, the
foundation for the design and implementation
of the leadership development process has
been set.
Assessing organizational
The effectiveness of any type of development
program or learning activity begins with
how well it is designed. Effective design
requires a thorough understanding of the
problem. In this case, defining the problem
involves understanding the organization’s
leadership needs and priorities, as well as
the context in which that leadership will
be required. The context of leadership is
largely defined by the organization’s operating
environment, mission, goals, strategy, and
other related elements. The leadership needs
of the organization are then defined as an input
to the strategy that has been developed to
achieve the organization’s goals.
In order to fill these leadership needs,
qualifying and quantifying the organization’s
leadership requirements is an essential task.
This involves both determining the number
of leaders desired at each level or section
of the organization and defining the specific
leadership competencies required at each.
Similarly, it should also clarify the expected
competencies – leadership, technical, and
otherwise – to be developed at each level.
Care should be taken in the sequencing of
these activities to both ensure the ordered
acquisition of prerequisite competencies and
to be reflective of the tasks and objectives of
the possible roles at each level. Figure 24.1 is
a graphic example of how these competencies
might be defined at each level of the
In this hypothetical example, the
organization has four basic organizational
levels; organization member, manager,
director, and executive (i.e. the CEO and
other executive officers). The descriptions of
these levels are irrelevant and merely selected
for convenience of differentiation and
explanation. At each of these levels (indicated
by a disruption in the diagonal line), a different
stage of leadership development is identified
(e.g. project leadership, portfolio leadership,
etc.) that is in addition to the typical job
descriptions that are representative of that
level within the organizational hierarchy.
The competencies (shown to the right
of the diagonal) below the disturbance
in the diagonal line can be thought of as
prerequisites of that organizational level.
The competencies above the disturbance
represent the development priorities within
that level. The model is not intended to imply
a fixed number of levels or competencies, nor
does it suggest distinct association between
organizational levels and competencies sets.
It is representative, not definitive.
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Organization member
(Self leadership &
Staff/Line/Product manager
(Project leadership)
Division/Plant/Department director
(Portfolio leadership)
CEO/Executive officers
(Organizational leadership)
• Technical competence
+ Working in/contributing to teams
+ Learning to give & receive feedback
+ Influencing peers & superiors
+ Developing external & internal networks
• Project management
+ Team building & conflict management
+ Delegating
+ Coaching & mentoring
• Strategic planning
• Portfolio management (i.e. multiple projects)
+ Indirect leadership
+ Identifying & developing new leaders
• Opportunity/threat recognition
• Creating & articulating a vision
+ Shaping organizational culture
+ Managing leader development process
• Basic technical knowledge
• Systems thinking
• Critical reflection
+ Basic intrapersonal competence
+ Basic interpersonal competence
Leadership roles tend to be
tactical in nature and
decisions are more fact-
based and defined. Leaders
predominantly rely on direct
forms of influence and
Leadership roles tend to be
strategic in nature and
decisions are more value-
based and ambiguous.
Indirect forms of influence
and communication
increasingly important to
• Examples of technical or managerial competencies
+ Examples of leader/ship competencies
Figure 24.1 A model of leardership development
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As an example, an individual participating
in the leadership development program who is
promoted to the position of manager would be
expected to have already gained or developed
relevant technical competence, experience
working in teams, an understanding of how to
give and receive feedback, as well as the rest
of the competencies listed. In her new position
as manager, she would be expected to have the
development priorities of project management
skills, team building, conflict management,
delegation, and mentoring.
To the right of the graph is a continuum
designed to offer a brief explanation of the
rationale behind the sequencing of compe-
tencies. As the leader progresses through the
organizational hierarchy, decisions become
more value-based, strategic, and ambiguous.
Also, indirect forms of influence and com-
munication become more critical to effective
leadership due to the increasing span of
control. The objective here is not to suggest
new forms of leadership, but to provide an
example of a typology that an organization
might use to define the progressive, sequential
stages of development that it determines
appropriate for its leaders.
The organizational needs assessment is
a critical step in the design of the lead-
ership development program and can yield
numerous benefits if conducted thoroughly
and effectively. For one thing, this step helps
to clearly define needs and expectations and
allows individuals progressing through the
leadership development stages to anticipate
leader competency expectations of future
roles. It also provides a framework that allows
for individuals to be recruited internally
or externally, because the competencies at
each organizational level are clearly defined.
More importantly, this assessment can also
serve as the mechanism for identifying
and selecting potential leaders within the
Conducting the gap analysis
Once the organizational needs are defined
with respect to leadership, the existing
leadership capability within the organization
can be assessed. This leadership needs or ‘gap’
analysis can be further delineated between
short-term (immediate to less than one year)
and long-term (more than one year) needs.
While the term may imply a shortfall of
leadership capability, a gap analysis may also
reveal a surplus of leadership at a given
organizational level. However this is unlikely,
given the competitive operating environment
of most organizations, such a situation might
occur as a result of a significant shift in
organizational goals, strategy, structure, or
similar change. Thus, it is important to
recognize that the design and configuration
of the leadership development program is an
ongoing process that adapts to changes in the
organization’s environment and shifts in its
strategic objectives.
Based on the results of the gap analysis and
similar forecasts, a leadership development
plan can be created to fulfill the identified
requirements. Given the future-orientation of
an effective leadership development program,
short-term needs are difficult to fill unless
there is an available surplus of leaders in
other areas of the organization that are
capable of taking on the new role. Lacking
an available pool of internal talent, it is
often necessary to hire an individual from
outside the organization to fulfill these
relatively urgent needs. From this scenario,
it may be inferred that it is easier for the
organization to plan for and address long-
term as opposed to short-term needs. While
this may be the case in some respects,
it can also be more difficult in others.
One of the most significant challenges
to long-term planning is the development
of accurate forecasts of future leadership
requirements. Nevertheless, this is a chal-
lenge that organizations face in many other
strategic decisions and is but one more
consideration that should be clearly explicated
to ensure the long-term success of the
Methods of leadership development
Once existing and potential leaders are
identified within the organization and selected
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for participation in the program, the real work
of leadership development begins. As men-
tioned previously, organizational learning
typically takes one of two basic types;
training and development. While a review
of these methods here would be a redundant
contribution to the literature (see Day, 2000 &
Yukl, 2006), a brief summary is useful.
Training is often exemplified by work-
shops, seminars, classes, or degree programs
offered by the organization, consultants,
or educational institutions. These activities
typically are designed to address well-defined
learning objectives in a relatively short time
frame. The instructional techniques used
in these training sessions include lectures,
cases, simulations, exercises, games, role
playing, and various types of multi-media
Alternatively, development activities may
help employees in their current role, but
the emphasis of these efforts is usually on
preparing employees for future assignments
or enabling long-term organizational goals.
In an organizational context, terms such as
development assignments, job rotation pro-
grams, and project assignments (i.e., action
learning; Dotlich & Noel, 1998) are often
cited as typical development methodologies
(we will collectively refer to these methods
as development assignments throughout the
remainder of this chapter). Essentially, these
methods involve using existing and specially
created positions and projects within the
organization as a context for development
using an experiential learning process. This
approach seems especially relevant to lead-
ership development because organizational
leadership is a set of applied knowledge, skills
and abilities that need to be practiced and
developed in situ.
As a form of pedagogy, experiential learn-
ing usually suggests some type of process that
begins with an initial experience, followed by
reflecting on the experience from a variety
of perspectives, abstracting relevant learning
and principles from the experience, and then
testing this new learning by applying it
in a new situation (Kolb, 1984). Research
suggests that the effectiveness of this type
of approach is a function of the amount of
challenge involved in the assignment, the
variety of tasks involved in the assignment,
and the quality of feedback relative to the
individual’s performance of the assignment
(Yukl, 2006).
The degree of challenge involved in
a development assignment can result from
such factors as ambiguously defined goals,
tasks, or roles; the degree of risk involved
(e.g. economic, career); the relative impor-
tance to the organization of a successful
outcome; and the overall difficulty of the
assignment. Since the amount of chal-
lenge is difficult to control in experiential
approaches, additional organizational sup-
port and guidance may be necessary in
some assignments. The organization can
help mitigate some of the other factors, for
example, providing greater clarity regarding
goals or tasks. However, other factors – such
as risk and importance – may simply be
a function of increasing levels of responsibil-
ity. Consequently, supervisors, mentors, and
coaches must be constantly vigilant in their
awareness of when a developing leader needs
more help.
A wide variety of learning experiences is
beneficial in a number of ways. Increased
variety provides a greater number and type of
situations, problems, decisions, and outcomes
from which leaders can learn. Through
proper reflection of the experience, the
learner can help distill universal principles
and techniques and identify the limitations
and dependencies of those that are more
contingent in nature. This variety can also
be increased by learning from both positive
and negative exemplars. Just as one can
learn from both good and poor role models,
leaders can learn from experiences that result
in either failure or success. However, it
is unclear as to the best way to combine
and sequence assignments in the interest
of creating a more effective development
program. Whether or not there is an optimal
mix of tasks or assignments either in general
or for a specific stage of development
remains an open question for leadership
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Providing feedback
Feedback helps to facilitate the reflection
process to extract the lesson from experience.
Feedback can be provided through a number
of sources and methods. Individual feedback
can be acquired from superiors, mentors,
coaches, peers, and other relevant perspec-
tives. Other sources and mechanisms include
multi-rater (360) feedback and assessment
centers. For example, 360feedback refers
to the process by which followers, peers,
supervisors, and even customers provide
confidential feedback to the target leader,
who in turn uses the feedback to make lead-
ership improvements (see Atwater, Brett &
Waldman, 2003, for benefits and risks of
360feedback). Assessment centers involve
leadership simulations with assessors provid-
ing evaluations and feedback (Thornton &
Rupp, 2006). One drawback of several of
these feedback mechanisms is that character-
istics (e.g. personality or implicit leadership
theories) of the individuals providing the
feedback may bias or otherwise influence their
comments. It may therefore be necessary to
determine the extent of the bias of these factors
and attempt to take this into account when
considering such feedback in order to gain
a more accurate picture of a leader’s strengths
and development needs.
One source of potential feedback and
leadership development for leaders comes
from mentoring, traditionally a process
whereby a more experienced individual
(i.e. the mentor) guides a less experienced
individual (i.e. the mentee or protégé). In
fact, previous research on organizational
mentoring has demonstrated its positive
impact on promotions, salaries, and job
mobility (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz & Lima,
2004) and has suggested its use in addition
to other career self-management strategies
(Murphy, Ensher & Reichard, unpublished
manuscript). Mentors and coaches can pro-
vide additional value to leaders through
their guidance, advice, and organizational
support. Thus, in a way, mentors are somewhat
of a personification of the organization’s
commitment to support of the individual’s
leadership development. In a leadership
development context, mentors are typically
senior managers that have some combina-
tion of extensive technical, leadership, or
organizational knowledge. A mentor can be
a source of guidance and encouragement
for the mentee or can help facilitate the
socialization and acceptance of her mentee
within the organization. Depending on one’s
role and influence in the organization, the
mentor might also be able help the mentee
obtain coveted or valuable assignments to
help advance their leadership and career
development. On the other hand, coaching,
while similar to mentoring as a form of
one-on-one learning, differs in that it is
typically much more limited in duration and
specific in its scope or purpose. Also, due
to the obvious lack of available mentors for
leaders high in the organizational hierarchy
and the cost of many external coaches,
executives tend to rely more on coaches than
on mentors. Beyond traditional mentoring
as described here, other types of mentoring
used in leadership development include peer,
step-ahead, reverse, group, and e-mentoring
(Ensher & Murphy, 2005).
An emphasis on experiential
While the benefits to the leader are obvious,
the coaches and mentors also benefit in
various ways as well. This satisfaction is
not unlike a teacher that enjoys guiding the
development of a promising student. Yet
these methods are not without their issues.
Personality and other relationship conflicts
can often result in unsuccessful mentoring and
coaching outcomes. While it would appear
obvious that some combination of selection
and training of mentors might be beneficial in
obtaining more positive and consistent results,
there is limited empirical understanding of
precisely how a mentor or coach actually
facilitates leader development.
While experiential methods can be a
powerful form of learning, especially for
adults, the relative lack of structure in expe-
riential learning and lack of understanding
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in how to employ it as a learning method
limits its use. This is one of a variety of
reasons that organizations too often seem
to overemphasize discrete training meth-
ods, while neglecting or underutilizing the
potential of experiential learning. This is
unfortunate because the role of experience
in adult learning is axiomatic with but a
cursory review of theory. Still, it is important
to recognize that while leadership is primarily
developed through experiential methods,
formal (e.g. classroom) training methods can
be used to help prepare for, augment, and
interpret these learning experiences. Finding
the right balance of methods is an ongoing
process in search of a dynamic solution, and
largely depends on the characteristics of the
learner and their organizational context.
Assessment of leadership
development outcomes
Assessment is a critical element of successful
leadership development programs that is often
underdeveloped, if not altogether omitted.
The purpose of assessment in the leadership
development process is to determine whether
or not the efforts have yielded the desired
effect. However, the goals, objectives, and
measures of leadership development activities
are often poorly defined, if defined at all.
One potential tool that is often suggested to
help determine the impact of these efforts is
Kirkpatrick’s (1976) model of evaluation.
Essentially, Kirkpatrick’s model provides a
typology of approaches to measuring training
and development outcomes. Designed to be
considered in succession, beginning with
the lowest level, the four-levels are intended
to measure: (1) reaction of trainees, with
respect to what they thought or felt about
the training; (2) trainee learning as reflected
by an increase in knowledge or capability;
(3) behavioral change; and (4) the impact of
the change in trainees’ behavior relative to
their organizational roles. Obviously, mea-
surement of the true impact of the training
and development effort is improved with each
successive layer. Unfortunately, progressing
through each layer involves increasing levels
of time, expense, and challenge. Furthermore,
it does not eliminate the need to have clearly
defined learning objectives and measures.
At a minimum, leadership development
programs should be designed to measure
changes in leader behavior (i.e. level three).
Depending on the competency being devel-
oped, efforts should be made to assess
the organizational impact of that behav-
ioral change. This decision should be made
in recognition of the cost of assessment
relative to importance of measuring the
behavioral effects. The danger lies in
the risk of overzealously pursuing perfor-
mance measurement in lieu of leadership
development. The reality is that in addition
to the lack of clarity regarding which
leadership competencies are most important,
practitioners and scholars often lack the
technology and understanding to measure
some of these competencies. This presents a
paradox: it is important to measure the change
in leader behavior and the organizational
impact of that behavior, yet we often lack
the tools to do so. Nevertheless, the challenge
must be addressed. Indeed, it is only through
the continuing efforts of organizations, con-
sultants, and scholars to address this challenge
that this problem will be resolved.
Effective program management
Managing the long-term development process
can be a challenging task for individual lead-
ers. Learning contracts (Knowles, 1991) or
similar types of individual development plans
can be used to define a strategy for personal
development as a leader. Effective learn-
ing contracts are essentially well-designed
blueprint for self-directed learning. The
process of constructing a learning contract
is very similar to the methodical approach
used at the organizational level to design the
leadership development program. Beginning
with an assessment of development needs,
a set of learning objectives is defined along
with the learning resources and strategies
that will be used to achieve these goals. Of
course it is important that the resources and
strategies also consider the learning styles
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and preferences of the individual and are
adapted with these factors in mind. The final
portion of the contract is the specification of
how evidence of learning and change will be
collected including the methods, validation,
and timeframe of this assessment.
Learning contracts can help to add structure
to a program of leadership development for
those who are seeking greater clarity of the
process. Creating or updating these plans
requires the individual to reflect on personal
values and help him or her to define their
development goals and priorities. It also
serves as a way to assess alignment between
an individual’s personal development goals
with the organization’s development goals.
This process can also help to establish
or strengthen relationships with supervisors,
mentors, or coaches who help guide the
individual through the creation of the plan.
It can also help to clarify the individual’s
priorities at a given stage of development
which can suggest the type of development or
training that is needed, allowing for improved
planning by the organization to help ensure the
appropriate development assignments will be
Obviously, managing the various types of
experiential opportunities available to leaders
is a difficult task. One potential solution
to this problem is for the organization
to implement a system to aggregate these
development assignments into a central
repository to help facilitate effective program
management. This solution would provide
a single source of current and upcoming
experiential opportunities (both job and
project assignments) for individuals in the
pipeline. As another example of integration
to other organizational processes, this sys-
tem could be a special extension of the
firm’s job posting system. The program
management system should also be able to
monitor individual and collective (i.e. all
leaders in the organizations) development
progress. Comparing this development status
to a current assessment of organizational
leadership needs provides a measure of the
surplus or deficit of leadership capacity in
terms of both quantity and quality at each level
of the organization (e.g. succession planning).
Thus, senior management is able to track the
preparedness of the organization to sustain
effective operations and pursue future growth
In providing an understanding of leadership
development for management students, it is
imperative that undergraduate and graduate
students appreciate the reality of lifelong
learning and appreciate what it entails.
Teachers can help prepare students for this
journey by ensuring that students have learned
how to learn and think. This involves pro-
viding greater exposure to critical reflection,
rhetoric, systems thinking, learning styles,
experiential learning, and similar concepts,
as these techniques play a critical role in
leadership development efforts. It is also
important to promote the development of
intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that are
essential to the social influence mechanisms of
leadership (Day, 2000). Specifically regarding
leadership, students would likely benefit more
if faculty put less emphasis on the details
of traditional leadership theories, and instead
focused on the practical aspects of these
theories and how they are applied. This
could lead to further discussions of implicit
leadership theories and promote awareness
of personal leadership stereotypes and their
potential impact on perceptions of actual
leader behavior.
For too long, scholarly efforts regarding
leadership development have significantly
lagged behind the work of practitioners
in the field. While some pressing research
needs have already been mentioned, we
will summarize some of them again here
and suggest others that seem particu-
larly salient. For one, researchers need to
continue to explore the relative efficacy
of leadership development methodologies
(e.g. multi-rater feedback, coaching, men-
toring). While this has arguably been the
area of greatest activity, there are numerous
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unanswered questions. In particular, is there
an optimal mix, sequence, or timing of
developmental techniques? If so, does this
optimal solution vary across different orga-
nizational contexts or national cultures?
Another area that requires significant attention
is leader competencies. What competencies
are most salient to effective leadership and
is this affected by various contextual factors?
While several researchers have advocated a
competencies approach, (Burgoyne & James,
2006), others question its utility. Is there a core
subset of ‘universal’ leadership competencies
that are important regardless of the situation?
The work of House and colleagues (House
et al., 2004) suggests that this is the case, but
the leadership literature is far from agreement
on the matter.
Methodologically, researchers need to
move beyond cross-sectional studies and
expand their research designs to include more
appropriate methods for the subject under
examination. Effective learning involves
behavioral change and change occurs over
time. In the case of leadership develop-
ment, these changes occur over relatively
long periods of time. Therefore, the lack
of studies employing true longitudinal and
latent growth modeling designs is more
than a little disappointing. Fortunately, some
scholars have begun to employ these and
other novel approaches in their research
designs, so perhaps the field is beginning to
recognize the limitations of earlier approaches
(e.g. Atwater, Dionne, Avolio, Camobreco &
Lau, 1999; Harris & Cole, 2007; Keller, 2006;
Liden, Wayne & Stilwell, 1993).
While scholars continue to struggle to
answer these and numerous other ques-
tions, practitioners, executive coaches, and
other consultants will undoubtedly press on
with their own prescriptions for develop-
ing effective leaders. Although this may
be disconcerting to some, these efforts
do have their benefits, as recent meta-
analyses of training interventions suggest
(e.g. Reichard & Avolio, 2005). Assuming
we can infer some degree of effectiveness
based on the amount of resources that
are increasingly committed to leadership
development, practitioners are often at the
forefront of developing new techniques and
methodologies to organizational challenges.
Unfortunately, weighing the utility of this
myriad of techniques is nearly impossible
because of the lack of evidence to support
many of the practitioner and organiza-
tional claims. One potential solution to this
dilemma is greater cooperation and coor-
dination between scholars and practitioners
in collectively designing, implementing, and
assessing leadership development programs
for the benefit of client organizations. Perhaps
such an approach will enable the field to
produce the actionable knowledge necessary
to make a qualitative difference for both
theory and practice.
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... Leadership is a process (Morgeson, Lindoerfer & Loring, 2010) and source of competitive advantage (Graen, Rowold & Heintz, 2010); therefore, investing in its development is vital for organizations (Hrivnák, Reichard & Riggio, 2009). Leadership capability, as well as intellectual ability, was initially conceptualized as an inherent trait (Chemers, 2002). ...
... Hence, due to the relatively 'equal standing' of both parties , the mentoring of one head teacher by another may differ from other mentorÁ/ mentee relationships, such as those between 'expert' and 'novice' teacher in initial teacher training. (Head teacher mentoring is thus often referred to as 'peer mentoring'*/ Tomlinson, 2002.) Yet no two mentorÁ/ mentee head teacher relationships will be, or should be, the same (cf. ...
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