Key Lessons of Learning Leadership Experience (7)

Key Lessons7Further, Conger (1993) argues for an organized approach and believes that too much leadership development has occurred in a ‘haphazard process’ (1993: 46), with little intentionality, accountability or evaluation (ibid.). Drawing these notions of development together, an equation is offered (McCauley et al., 1998: 223):

Feedback intensive program + skill-based training + 360-degree feedback + developmental relationships + hardships = Leadership development.

(1998: 223)

In summary, the equation completes the circle of the literature review by paradoxically returning us back to organized formal leadership development where McCauley et al.

(1998) argue that intervention is enhanced through embracing naturalistic experiences within a formal process. Yet there is also a paradox to this simple (perhaps simplistic) equation: the lessons that are developmental are those which often occur when least expected, but are highly relevant to the context and are idiosyncratically interpreted by an individual as additional to previous experience.

Can the unexpected and the idiosyncratic be planned as part of a formal development program? Can interventions span sufficient time to allow naturalistic experiences to take effect? In terms of efficacy, can outcomes be measured in relation to designed inputs?

In essence, can naturalistic development be controlled and accelerated if a significant part of leadership learning occurs through repeating routines and socialization over extended periods? This range of questions set the scene for the next article that addresses emerging issues for leadership learning and development.

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