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Leadership development: an exploration of sources of learning.


Leadership development remains a popular topic in research and practice. Of the estimated $51 billion spent on training annually, more than $14 billion was for leadership development (Dolezalek, 2005). However, guidance on the development of leaders tends either to be purely conceptual or purely applied. Little academic work connects the theory of leadership development to the interventions used in leadership development programs and initiatives. As a result, this paper categorizes a comprehensive list of more than 25 sources of learning within the framework of Conger's (1992) four approaches to leadership development programming. Conger's work was groundbreaking because few scholars had attempted to categorize the different approaches to leadership development (Hunt, 1992; Yukl, 2002). Although many scholars have categorized five or 10 sources of learning (Avolio, 1999; Day, 2001; London, 2002; Yukl, 2002), we provide one of the first comprehensive lists. Sources of learning are the primary vehicles for delivering leadership development learning activities before, during, and after the leadership development intervention (e.g., action learning, job rotation, assessment centers). Linking all sources of learning with Conger's (1992) four approaches provides a starting point for future work on how best to deliver leadership development.

Leadership and Leadership Development is Contextual

Leadership is a relationship between leaders, followers, and the context. Likewise, leadership development is contextual and the approaches and sources of learning used for leadership development provide a learning opportunity unique to that specific program. The intention is that participants will draw knowledge from the source of learning and improve their ability to lead teams, organizations, and change effectively. As a result, the success or failure of leadership development initiatives hinges on the overall approach (objectives), the sources of learning the initiatives provide, and their affect on the individual.

In addition, individual-level variables like age, learning style, organizational role, development level, motivation, and self-efficacy have also affect results of leadership development programs (Conger, 2004). As a result, the predominant historical system where organizations depend on only one source of learning simply cannot meet the needs of all. For these reasons we suggest that it is in the best interest of architects of leadership development initiatives to offer a variety of interventions that align with various styles of learning, content coverage, and time spans. Thus, each participant can choose how he or she will develop. Some organizations may think they lack the funding to create multiple sources of learning, but there is evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of job rotation, job enrichment, job enlargement, developmental relationships, instruments, service learning, personal development plans, and action learning as inexpensive ways to develop individuals.

Four Themes in Leadership Development Programming

In his book Learning to Lead, Jay Conger (1992) suggests four primary approaches to leadership development: (1) personal growth, (2) conceptual understanding, (3) feedback, and (4) skill building (Figure 1).

Naturally, there is an inherent benefit in matching Conger's (1992) four approaches to leadership development with the various sources of learning used in leadership development initiatives. Each source of learning has a number of characteristics, and some would argue each could be placed in multiple approaches, but we placed each in what we feel is its primary learning objective (Figure 2). Each leadership development program varies by the sources of learning offered to participants. For example, a feedback approach to leadership development may include a 360-degree evaluation that gives the participant opinions on their performance from everyone with whom the individual comes in contact (supervisors, coworkers, partners, subordinates, and the general public). Since the primary source of learning is derived from the feedback, we paired it with Conger's feedback approach to leadership development.

Leadership Development Through Personal Growth

Personal growth experiences induce reflection on behaviors, personal values, and desires (Conger, 1992). Discussion about the connection between leadership development and personal growth permeates the literature (e.g., Avolio 2005; Cacioppe, 1998; Popper and Lipshitz, 1993). Personal growth programs are "based, generally, on the assumption that leaders are individuals who are deeply in touch with their personal dreams and talents and who will act to fulfill them" (Conger, 1992). Essentially, the purpose of these programs is to increase self-awareness and emphasize self-exploration. Avolio and Gibbons (1989) assert that, "After getting their own personal shops in order, charismatic/transformational leaders are free to look outward and beyond the time period in which they operate to solve significant problems." The relationship with leader development is that the more self-aware leader will be better prepared to lead others. Sources of learning that align with the personal growth approach to leadership development include:

* Group reflection--This source of learning often occurs after an activity or event within the context of a learning activity. One form of group reflection is the military's use of an After Action Review. According to Bruce Avolio (2005), the process has several phases and begins with a discussion of the event so that a shared meaning of what happened can be developed. After this step, participants engage in a discussion of why events unfolded as they were followed by the development of alternative courses of action. Group reflection is a popular source of learning in leadership development programs. Often conducted after a teambuilding or action learning activity, the purpose is to help participants make connections and capture learning. This approach is easy to implement and cost effective, but, little in the management or leadership literature supports its use.

* Individual reflection--Individual reflection occurs through activities such as journaling and challenges participants to focus on topics such as goals, personal mission, and experiences. Individual reflection may focus on past experience or future aspirations. Similar to group reflection, individual reflection is often combined with other activities in the context of a leadership development program. Although widely used in practice, little has been written on the topic in the management and leadership development literature.

* Service learning--According to Jacoby (1996), service learning is "a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development." Reflections on these experiences encourage individuals to consider the advantages of servant leadership perspective. Service learning can be a cost-effective source of learning and has received favorable support in the leadership literature. In addition, it is relatively easy to implement. However, this source of learning may be difficult to evaluate in terms of return on investment--especially in corporations.

* Outdoor management development (OMD)--OMD is "a set of carefully sequenced and integrated experiential learning activities conducted (primarily) in the outdoors and designed to participant behavior change" (McEvoy and Buller, 1997). Participants face direct challenges that encourage them to evaluate their approach to team leadership. OMD has an extensive base of literature and is relatively easy to implement (with the help of professionals). However, research on its ability to develop leadership is mixed, and return on investment is difficult to measure. In addition the cost of constructing an OMD facility may also be an obstacle.

* Low ropes course--A ropes course is often an outdoor activity that challenges participants to focus on tasks and challenges. A key function of any ropes course (high or low) is to provide an understanding of self as a mechanism to create or operate in an effective team. A ropes course is a source of learning that allows participants the opportunity to work through initiatives and intentionally debrief all aspects--one goal being an increased awareness of how participants troubleshoot, communicate, and lead. Low ropes courses are a popular component of leadership development initiatives and are often used in the "forming" stage of team development. Generally speaking, it is cost effective, but return on investment may be difficult to calculate.

* Teambuilding--Teambuilding emphasizes "members working together in a spirit of cooperation and generally has one or more of the following goals--(1) to set team goals and priorities, (2) to analyze and allocate the way work is performed, (3) to examine how a group is working, and (4) to examine relationships among people doing the work" (Moorhead and Griffen, 2004). Participants reflect on these experiences as a guide to becoming a leader in a collaborative environment. Like a low ropes course, teambuilding is cost effective and easy to implement. However, determining the return on investment may be difficult, and without a skilled facilitator, learning opportunities may be missed. The approach is often used when a group is in its beginning stages.

* Fellowships--A fellowship is an intense learning experience usually involving a specific topic of interest. Participants usually apply to be a part of the fellowship, and much of the learning is self-directed. Fellowships are easily implemented and highly individualized but have a number of obstacles. For instance, the investment in one or a few participants is sizable, and the return on investment is not easy to calculate. In addition, there is little research or literature supporting this approach to development.

* Sabbaticals--In higher education, a sabbatical is defined as "paid leave of absence for a faculty member ... for personal and professional improvement or development ... [typically lasting] either a half year with full compensation or a full academic year with somewhat reduced compensation" (Miller and Kang, 1997). Participants typically focus on specific areas of interest. Like fellowships, this approach is highly individualized and without clear objectives, so development may prove difficult to evaluate. In addition, the cost to the organization is high and the literature is mixed. This approach may prove most beneficial with executives in need of a different approach to development.

* Developmental relationships--Developmental relationships are a "means for providing an individual with the information, support, and challenge which they need to meet their development needs" (Clarkson and Shaw, 1992). These relationships, formal and informal, can be important to leadership development. Depending on when and where an individual entered the organization, it is likely that he or she has developed a network of relationships--close friends and acquaintances. This approach is relatively easy to implement and cost effective. In addition, an extensive literature base supports this approach to development. It is highly individualized and may be appropriate regardless of role within an organization.

* Networking with senior executives--Networking is marked by exposure and relationship building with senior executives. These interactions expand a participant's horizons and afford them an opportunity to learn about the organization informally from individuals at higher levels in the organization. Similar to developmental relationships, this approach is easy to implement and cost effective. This approach may be most effective when executives are paired with employees who have been recommended by managers or human resource managers because they are viewed as having high potential for advancement. On the downside, the approach may be difficult to evaluate and there is little research and literature on this source of learning.

Leadership Development Through Conceptual Understanding

Leadership development through conceptual understanding focuses on improving the individual's knowledge through exposure to the topic of leadership (Conger, 1992). This form of development often focuses on various theories of leadership (e.g., Avolio, 2005; Cacioppe, 1998). Conger (1992) asserts that leadership theory is discussed primarily in universities, although in the late 1980s and 1990s programs such as Kouzes and Posner's Leadership Challenge brought some of this theory to the mainstream. Sources of learning that align with the conceptual understanding approach to leadership development include:

* Degree programs--Such formal education programs have a prescribed curriculum and often require exams, papers, and other projects to graduate. MBA programs have been under scrutiny in recent years and the return on investment for the organization is difficult to measure (Mintzber, 2003). Popular in practice, the leadership research is mixed as to the effectiveness of degree programs as a vehicle for leader development. Regardless, this approach to development is often used to develop middle managers in organizations.

* Self-paced learning--This form of learning is highly individualized and often involves participants reading a book or going through a workbook, videotape or audiotape. Self-paced learning is a close relative of just-in-time training which is used widely in organizations. Little has been written in the leadership literature about this source of learning, so little is know about its effectiveness as an approach to learning.

* Classroom-based training--According to Vicere and Fulmer (1997), in-class leadership development initiatives typically last three to five days. They are formal education programs with a prescribed curriculum. Classroom-based training is a popular source of learning and has a large base of literature. Generally the research supports its ability to increase the participants' awareness of leadership theory, but this approach can be cost prohibitive and difficult to make relevant to on-the-job issues.

* E-learning--E-learning is defined as "the use of computer network technology, primarily over an intranet or though the Internet, to deliver information and instruction to individuals" (Welsh, Wanberg, Brown, and Simmernig, 2003). Similar to training and degree programs, learning is delivered primarily through a predetermined curriculum that intends to increase the participant's factual or conceptual knowledge about leadership. E-learning has grown amazingly in recent years. After initial development costs, the approach is relatively cost effective (no travel/lodging) and the literature is generally supportive. In addition, it is a popular approach in practice.

Leadership Development Through Feedback

This approach to leadership development suggests that "Through effective feedback processes, we can learn about our strengths and weaknesses in a number of leadership skills" (Conger, 1992). Feedback instruments such as the MBTI and 360-degree instruments are used widely in leadership development programs (e.g., Cacioppe, 1998; Yukl, 2002). For instance, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) (McCauley, Moxley, and Van Velsor, 1998) supports an activity called Feedback-Intensive Program (FIP). A CCL senior fellow, Robert C. Dorn, suggests that "in a feedback intensive program, development means helping a person to see more clearly significant patterns of behavior, to understand more clearly the attitudes and motivations underlying these patterns, to reassess what makes the person more or less effective relative to the goals he or she wants to attain, and to evaluate alternative ways of meeting these goals." Sources of learning that align with the feedback approach to leadership development include:

* Executive coaching--Executive coaching is described as "a helping relationship formed between a client who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organization and a consultant who uses a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to help the client achieve a mutually identified set of goals to improve his or her professional performance and personal satisfaction and, consequently, to improve the effectiveness of the client's organization within a formally defined coaching agreement" (Kilburg, 2000). This is a highly individualized source of learning, often tailored to the needs of the individual learner. The primary challenge to this approach is that the industry lacks standards and regulations. In addition, unless clear objectives are established at the outset, return on investment may be difficult to calculate. Moreover, costs can be prohibitive, especially at the middle-management level. Regardless, this source of learning has gained in popularity in recent years.

* Instruments--According to Harland (2003), organizations use assessments "to enhance self awareness and self-knowledge, identify strengths and weaknesses and enhance team effectiveness." This source of learning increases self-awareness in a number of areas including: preferred learning style, personality type, leadership, confrontation, communication and so forth. Popular in practice, this source of learning has an extensive and supportive base of literature. However, like others, if it is not linked to other learning opportunities or development planning, return on investment may prove minimal. Often used in the context of a larger program, instruments are relatively easy to implement and cost effective to development.

* Assessment centers--Often participants are formally evaluated by trained observers on their demonstration of leadership competences in a series of activities. Participants receive feedback on their strengths and weakness to identify training needs, managerial talent, and performance in relation to other participants. If housed in an organization, assessment centers are expensive and require a significant investment of time and money. Although assessments centers have an extensive base of literature, the research is mixed and little has been written about this approach in recent years.

* 360[degrees] feedback--The 360[degrees] feedback process is a widely accepted tool to help leaders examine the perceptions of their co-workers. Also known as multi-rater or multisource feedback, a 360[degrees] feedback instrument solicits feedback from supervisors, direct reports, peers, and others working closely with the individual, as well as customers, vendors, and so forth. Costs and ease of implementation vary depending on the objectives for use and size of the organization. Although used extensively, return on investment is unclear.

Leadership Development Through Skill/ Competency Building

Conger's fourth approach to leadership development is skill/competency building, which is discussed by a number of scholars (e.g., Cacioppe, 1998; Yukl, 2002). Skill-building "demands that leadership abilities be broken down into actual mechanical processes that you and I can perform" (Conger, 1992). Conger asserts that certain aspects of skills such as communication and motivation can be taught. London (1999) suggests that leadership skills should include such elements as "envisioning the future, establishing goals, communicating, rallying support for the vision, planning for its implementation and putting the plans in place." Day and Halpin (2004) assert that leader development is built on a foundation of cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioral skills. According to the authors, "these skills, supported by leader attributes such as self-awareness, openness, trust, creativity, and practical, social and general intelligence, provide the basis for leadership." Sources of learning that align with the skill/competency approach to leadership development include:

* Just-in-time training--This development tool is designed to provide the learner with information at a time of need or crisis. Examples include podcasts, videos, or cases studies with examples of how to apply specific applications of leadership principles. Little is known about the impact of this source of learning. The literature base is small and there is virtually no research. However, employees utilize this source of learning consistently without even realizing it is happening.

* Developmental assignments--Developmental assignment have two attributes: challenge and an opportunity to learn. There should be a level of challenge for the assignment to be considered "developmental" (Brutus, Ruderman, Ohlott, and McCauley, 2000). Second, developmental assignments should provide the opportunity and motivation to learn and the opportunity to try out new skills, behaviors, and thinking (McCauley, Ruderman, Ohlott, and Morrow, 1994). Extremely popular in practice, developmental assignments are easy to implement, cost effective, and, along with classroom training, may be the most widely used source of learning.

* Simulations--Simulations are used to "create experiential environments within which learning and behavioral changes can occur and in which managerial behavior can be observed" (Keys and Wolfe, 1990). Simulations require "trainees to analyze complex problems and make decisions" (Yukl, 2002). Simulations have a supportive literature base; however, the research is mixed and evaluating the activities has proven difficult. In addition, costs can be prohibitive (depending on the product) and some argue that they do not adequately "mimic" the business environment.

* Games--According to Hsu (1989), "Gaming consists of interactions among players placed in a prescribed setting and constrained by a set of rules and procedures." Games have existed in management and leadership education for generations. In recent years, electronic games have grown in popularity and just might be the future of leadership development. Currently, the literature base is sparse and development costs can be prohibitive. However, Generation X & Y have grown up learning through this approach, so this is a source of learning to keep an eye on.

* Personal development plans--Taylor and Edge (1997) define a personal development plan as "a process through which the individual prepares a training and development plan, and for which the individual takes responsibility." Personal development plans, although popular in practice, lack an extensive literature base. Easy to implement and evaluate, they often fall victim to poor implementation and a lack of follow through. Like other sources of learning, unless they are linked to other organizational systems (e.g., performance management), return on investment is unlikely.

* Action learning--This is learning from concrete experience and critical reflection on that experience--through group discussion, trial and error, discovery, and learning from and with each other. It is a process by which groups of people (whether managers, academics, teachers, students or 'learners' generally) address actual workplace issues or problems, in complex situations and conditions. The solutions they develop may require changes to be made in the organization, and these solutions often pose challenges to senior management" (Zuber-Skerritt, 2002). Action learning has received a fair amount of attention in recent years and is cost effective and easy to implement. Perhaps its greatest benefit is that actual work problems are being solved while those participating are learning in the process. On the downside, there is mixed support in the literature, and without clear objectives, return on investment may be difficult to measure. On the other hand, with clear objectives this may be one source of learning that is easy to evaluate.

* Job enrichment--Job enrichment means that roles are "enriched" by adding tasks that are of greater and lesser responsibility to a person's role in hopes that a more meaningful job is created. Job enrichment gives workers more tasks to perform and more control over how to perform them (Moorhead and Griffen, 2004). Job enrichment has a large base of literature, but little has been written on it in recent years. The research on this approach was more supportive than not, but for some reason it lives only in management text books as an approach of yesteryear.

* Job enlargement--Also called horizontal job enlargement or horizontal job loading, it involves, "the meaningful addition of similar jobs, not simply adding identical, boring repetitive tasks to an already boring one" (Gifford, 1972). The end purpose, according to Gifford (1972), is increased satisfaction of higher needs (as in Maslow's hierarchy). Similar to job enrichment, little has been written on the topic in recent years. A popular practice in the '60s and '70s, job enlargement suffered from mixed success when implemented in organizations. Potentially cost effective and easy to implement, this source of learning sounds good in theory but has stalled in practice.

* Job rotation--Job rotation is a development tool that fosters "lateral transfers of employees between jobs in an organization" (Campion, Cheraskin, and Stevens, 1994). Bennett (2003) defines job rotation as "a planned movement of people between jobs over a period of time and for one or more of a number of purposes." Job rotation is used widely in industries such as banking and medicine. Surprisingly, little is written on the topic in the management and leadership literature, so the literature base is relatively sparse. However, the approach is easy to implement and cost-effective.

Leadership Development--Sources of Learning

Based on our review of the leadership development literature, there appears to be little evidence-based guidance on how to best develop leaders, and it is difficult to assess which of the existing leadership development programs are useful and which show little return on investment. Mintzberg (2003) agrees, suggesting that neither institutions of higher education nor organizations are doing a particularly good job using any of the sources of learning as a means to develop leaders. In reference to his four dimensions (personal growth, feedback, conceptual understanding, and skill building), Conger suggested that leader development occurs when a conceptual understanding of leadership is provided, while some leadership skills are practiced and there is an awareness of skills that are not easily taught. In addition, Conger believes feedback must be provided so potential leaders can understand their strengths and weaknesses while also experiencing personal growth by bringing out emotions. While he suggests leader development should encompass these four dimensions working in concert, he, too, gives little practical guidance or a recommended order of delivery or time frame in which leader development must occur. Mintzberg (2003) suggests leader development usually occurs in the early career stage when the participant has time to engage in this type of training. However, at this career point participants often lack context for the training material as their actual leadership experiences tend to be minimal. Mintzberg also suggests that most individuals interested in developing leadership skills are left to seek their own development path, which is often an MBA program.

Effective leader development is best when it occurs within a context for leadership, along with continuing to participate in formalized leadership development programs throughout a career, preferably at key transition points, not just at the early career stage. This model of development should also be reinforced with coaching, mentoring, and other organizational systems. Mintzberg (2003) has his own method for integrating leader development and Conger's four dimensions, but little independent validation relating to this method is available. Nevertheless, he makes it clear that shortcuts or inexpensive ways to develop leaders do not exist, and leader development is likely to require a formal process. Many experts still agree that the development of human capital is a critical factor for an organization's long-term success (Oxman, 2002) and development when strategically linked with human resource management practices are predictors for the overall performance of that organization (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004).

Based on this, we see the current state of leadership development largely as a free market phenomenon, where individuals hold the lion's share of responsibility for their own development as a leader. Further complicating this free market system is a lack of guidance about how to engage in leadership development and individual differences in people seeking leadership development. Noncognitive constructs like personality and values relate to the potential leader behaviors through the individual's motivation to lead, which, in turn, affects the individual's participation in leadership roles and activities (Chan and Drasgow, 2001). Through leader development activities the individual obtains the skills required for effective leadership (Lord and Hall, 1992) and possibly finds an individual leadership style. Motivation to lead, an individual-differences construct, affects the potential leader's decisions regarding the choice of leader development activities and also affects how experience from these activities plays out in his or her future efforts at leading or persistence in becoming a leader. This assumes that individual differences in motivation change with each leadership development experience and that positive experiences build leadership self-efficacy and desire to accumulate additional leadership experience. In the absence of formalized recommendations, it appears that individuals higher in extraversion and openness to experience are more likely to seek a leadership experience, improve their leadership self-efficacy, and have a higher motivation to lead than those with a lower rating (Chan and Drasgow, 2001).

Sources of learning may take place in the classroom, outdoors, or on the job. They may be highly personalized and can incorporate intense feedback from peers, subordinates and supervisors. Moreover, they may require passive involvement on the part of the learner or, conversely, learners may find themselves intently involved in a simulation, case study or even "real life" organizational programs. Yet, when creating a leadership development program, it is necessary to use the list of sources of learning (Figure 2) to create a program that, over time, uses all four of Conger's dimensions in alignment with the organization's strategic human resource management objectives. At the same time Mintzberg's (2003) recommendation for using a long-term leader development perspective and Chan and Drasgow's (2001) concern for differences in individual motivation should be taken into account.

Each source of learning has benefits and drawbacks depending on the context or use, organizational culture, or the participant's motivation. It is likely that some 'conceptual understanding' of leadership sources of learning should be provided prior to engaging in those sources of learning related to skill building. Yet, once some level of conceptual understanding and skill building has been achieved, it may be most effective to use sources of learning related to skill building, feedback, and personal development, depending on the participant's motivation or career stage. Over-reliance on a single source of learning in the leader development process should be avoided, because no single source of learning is appropriate at all times; variables such as time, money, skill-level of the facilitators, and learning objectives should be taken into consideration. Depending on the needs of the organization and specific cultural variances, different tools may be appropriate. In the context of a leadership development program or initiative, a variety of learning interventions will not only provide individual learners with varied experiences, but also will cut across a number of learning styles. By doing so, learning is more likely to be affected in a positive way.

Conclusion and Recommendations

A number of the sources of learning described are not always directly applied to leadership development in the literature. Some, such as sabbaticals, are simply "breaks" in the education world. Others, such as service learning, are used most frequently in higher education with students, not by multi-million dollar corporations. However, each has potential if viewed through a leadership lens. For instance, a developmental job assignment could be just that: a developmental assignment. However, if viewed with a leadership lens it quickly becomes a leadership development opportunity. Please note that it could be viewed with others lenses as well--for instance, personal development or skill development. However, what makes all of these sources of learning unique is that when the leadership lens is added, they become tools for developing leadership capacity.

In addition, sources of learning must be linked to one another as well as the human resources systems within the organization. Doing so will create a system or culture of leadership development rather than a leadership development program. There is a difference in these two options and they are supported in the literature. For the purpose of this work, we will only highlight a few:

* "Training should not be conceived of as a discrete program, but rather as an organizational intervention supported by other interventions over time. Training must have a clear, central purpose that will affect how people perform their roles, ideally, the best training programs create a sense of identification with the core values and beliefs they are attempting to transfer to participants" (Avolio, 1999).

* "Link development processes with human resource practices. To leverage the impact of leadership development efforts, they must be tightly linked to the organization's human resource management infrastructure, including performance management and reward systems, recruitment and selection procedures, and succession and executives resource platting processes. This final step ensures that a learning orientation becomes ingrained within the organization's culture and operating philosophy" (Vicere and Fulmer, 1996).

* "Other organizational systems must support the leadership development process. To be fully effective, development systems must be integrated with the organization's other processes: management planning, performance management, job selection, reward and recognition systems and even mistake systems. The confluence of these processes determines the relative effectiveness of any one development activity." (McCauley, Moxley, Van Velsor, 1998).

Unless the approach to leadership development and the sources of learning are viewed as part of the fabric of the organization, they will not receive the support and attention needed to maximize effect on participants. In fact, we believe the program will be set up to fail, not to produce the desired results. What if departments within organizations had a choice to keep their finances in order? What if they could participate when they felt it was convenient? What if they never told the finance department where the money was going? This concept is ridiculous because a dominant paradigm of business is the finance system--it weaves throughout the organization and it cannot be avoided. A systemic approach to leadership development will create a culture where continuous development is the norm rather than the exception.

Finally, leadership development takes time. To this point, Conger (1992) suggests, "Most would agree that to seriously train individuals in the arts of leadership takes enormous time and resources--perhaps more than societies or organizations possess, and certainly more than they are willing to expend." Organizations should take a long-term approach to leadership development and create a supportive environment. Making explicit the approach to leadership development and linking appropriate sources of learning (given time, resources, organizational culture, etc.) is likely one part of the equation.


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Scott J. Allen, John Carroll University

Nathan S. Hartman, John Carroll University

Dr. Allen founded the Center for Leader Development, dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of leadership. He has co-authored two books and has been a presidential Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Hartman's research interests include leader development, organizational citizenship behaviors, and employee selection. He teaches management.
Figure 1. Four Approaches to Leadership Development, Adapted from
Conger's (1992)

 Personal Growth Conceptual Understanding

 Programs that induce Programs that foster a conceptual
participants to reflect understanding of leadership ... theory
on their behaviors (such oriented by nature ... focused on the issue
 as their orientation of leadership development through a
toward risk or personal cognitive understanding of the
 intimacy), values, phenomenon.
 and desires.

 Feedback Skill Building

 Programs where Program designers identify what they
 feedback constitutes a perceive to be the key leadership skills
 large portion of the that can be taught. These are formulated
 time and emphasis is into modules and introduced to participants
 placed on measuring who practice or model specific behaviors.
the participant's skill Participant performance is critiqued, and
 in a wide range of feedback directs them to strengths and
 leader behaviors. weaknesses. Participants then practice and
 refine their skills.

Figure 2. Conger's Four Approaches Paired with 27 Sources of Learning

 Personal Growth Conceptual Understanding

 Group Reflection Degree Programs
Individual Reflection Self Paced Learning
 Service Learning Classroom Based Learning
 Outdoor Management E-Learning
 Low Ropes Course
 Networking with
 Senior Executives

 Feedback Skill Building

 Executive Coaching Just in Time Training
 Instruments Developmental Assignments
 Assessment Centers Simulations
 Personal Development Plans
 Action Learning
 Job Enrichment
 Job Enlargement
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Author:Allen, Scott J.; Hartman, Nathan S.
Publication:SAM Advanced Management Journal
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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