He argues that just because someone goes through an experience, it does not mean that they have learnt from that experience. For example, it was shown that most managers were not active and continuous learners (Bunker & Webb, 1992). The point is amplified by Velsor and Guthrie:
To learn, managers needed to let go of their current strengths long enough to acquire new ones. They must be strong and secure enough to make themselves vulnerable to the stresses and setbacks in the learning process.
Despite the criticisms of formal intervention in comparison to the emerging consensus toward naturalistic informal experiences, ironically (and echoing McCauley et al., 1998) formal education may be a key catalyst for enhancing the dominant arena of informal leadership development: ‘It means helping people to learn from their work rather than taking them away from their work to learn’ (Day, 2000: 586).
The notion of learning from their work anchors learning and development to situations. The final issue explored in this article examines how the situation and the work may shape a shared understanding of leadership within leader–follower relationships, allowing some leaders to be perceived as transformational and others as transactional: A ‘gift of God’ (Weber, 1947) or perhaps a gift generated through the situation?