Development occurs through specifically designed programs. … Instead it is a continuous process that can take place anywhere. … It means helping people to learn from their work rather than taking them away from their work to learn.
Barker (1997) suggests that formal leadership development should focus significantly less on training and more on development and education. He advocates that development is a blend of cognitive and emotional integration that influences self-motivation, self-direction and self-identity.
Formal development activity should draw these out of individuals in order to develop self-control through integration with their motivations and the wants and needs of the group. Education places emphasis towards conscious awareness of social patterns that produce insights into knowledge, ideals and experiences that shape individual and group beliefs and values, to enable collective integration into collective goals.
It is to this last point that the central focus of this article is oriented. Leadership learning and development is much more than the development of individual skills through training and education – described by Fox (1997a) as de-contextualized knowledge.
It is prominently an emergent and socially developed understanding that an individual acquires within a context or system (in the form of contextualized learning as advocated by Lave & Wenger, 1991). The next article clarifies what is known about such naturalistic influences on leadership learning and development.