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Understanding leader development: learning from leaders

McDermott, Aoife Mary ORCID:, Kidney, Rachel and Flood, Patrick 2011. Understanding leader development: learning from leaders. Leadership & Organization Development Journal 32 (4) , pp. 358-378. 10.1108/01437731111134643

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to integrate senior managers' personal experiences of leadership development with theory to provide insights into leadership development for aspiring and developing leaders. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative research design was adopted. Empirical data were gathered from 11 semi-structured interviews with senior leaders in the Irish public, voluntary (non-profit) and private sectors. Findings – The analysis led to the identification of development-oriented themes in the leadership literature, and the provision of insights regarding the developmental influences, core activities (vision and mobilisation) and the contextual influences (sectoral and societal) which affect appropriate leadership behaviour. Research limitations/implications – Although the study is limited by its small sample it provides a basis for further research and draws attention to personal leader development processes. In particular the importance of formative experiences on leaders' development, their struggle to attain balance, the need for advanced emotional management skills, the capacity to work with collectives of people and to adapt to contextual demands are emphasised. The study suggests that future research investigate how contextual factors influence the adoption of certain leadership styles. Practical implications – The study explores personal perspectives on fundamental leadership development themes, of pragmatic value to established and aspiring leaders interested in enhancing their capacity to lead. Originality/value – This paper considers leader development from the viewpoint of front-line actors. As such it adopts an intrapersonal focus, considering the development journeys of individual leaders. The paper extends the traditional focus on the transactional and relational dimensions of leadership behaviours to incorporate the formative experiences and contextual factors that influence leadership.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Uncontrolled Keywords: Leaders ; Leadership development ; Self development
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0143-7739
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 09:47

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