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An Integrative Approach to Leader Development


A primary reason for this programme is grounded in the belief that the world needs more and better leaders. This need extends across all domains – business, education, public service, the military and others. We believe that anyone in any role or position can be developed to become a more effective leader.
It is assumed that nearly everyone takes on both leader and follower roles in their personal and professional worlds. For instance, whereas one person may be exercising leadership in a team by virtue of having the most formal or informal influence, it could change in an instant if someone else brings greater expertise (expert power) or a more helpful understanding (sense-making) to the issue at hand. The focus of leadership is dynamic and changes over time, even possibly within the same role episode.

Everyone needs to be made a better leader in terms of being better prepared to participate in the process of leadership, as the situation demands and as challenging events unfold. Becoming a leader, in terms of acquiring the competence to exercise effective leadership, comes about as a natural by-product of developing the internal core (of adult development, identity development and self-regulation) that supports this expertise.

Leader Development

Rather than spending a lot of time and effort trying to define just what leadership is, our approach adopts a perspective that is grounded in Army doctrine and manifested in leadership competencies. We have given more attention to the questions of how and why leader development processes unfold than to the question of what in terms of the specific content of leadership.

There is a pressing need to accelerate leader development in the Army as well as in most other types of organisation (baby boomers retiring, increase of task migration from higher echelon to lower echelon leaders). For example, what might have been expected as a typical task for a colonel a decade ago may now be performed by a major or a captain. We believe that similar task migration is occurring in other disciplines, as a function of the trend towards removing layers of organisational hierarchy and flattening organisational structures.

It is also generally the case that leaders in all types of organisations are being exposed to increasingly novel and complex challenges. Leaders in subordinate positions need to take responsibility for the work that was taken on by the higher level leader. This ongoing task migration from upper-level to lower-level echelon leaders requires greater leader competence at lower level echelons than previously needed.

Part of the impetus behind task migration is the overarching strategic imperative to be as flexible and adaptable as possible. An added impetus comes from the need to take better advantage of developing computer-based networked information systems, which empower individuals to execute their leadership role successfully.

An Integrative Approach to Leader Development

By David V. Day, Michelle Harrison, Stanley Halpin

This book is a beginning, a first step, in taking leader development in organizations beyond conventional wisdom toward a scientifically sound research-based set of principles and practices. The authors looked beyond their own academic disciplines to bring to bear accumulated wisdom from researchers who have developed well-established and accepted theoretical perspectives on adult development processes in general, then wove in the ideas that have emerged in more targeted research on adult education, development of cognitive skills, identity development, self-regulation, moral and ethical development, and related topics. The authors present an integrative theory that provides a coherent framework for describing and understanding how leader development takes place.

Sample Chapter

Preface & Chapter 1: Introduction

A primary reason for this book is grounded in our belief that the world needs more and better leaders. This is a comprehensive need that cuts across domains, regardless of whether they are business, education, military, public service, or something else. Better leadership is needed. We are not proposing a theory about the creation of more world-class leaders in terms of those who lead nations, armies, or other organizations at the top-most level. That would be wonderful, but our aim is more modest. We believe that anyone in any role or position can be developed to become a more effective leader through the processes of leader development that are described in this book.

David V. Day is the Woodside Professor of Leadership and Management in the School of Business, University of Western Australia. Since 1999 he has also held the position of adjunct research scientist for the Center for Creative Leadership. Prof. Day has published extensively on the core topics of leadership and leadership development. He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology, Leadership Quarterly, and Human Resource Management Review and is a consulting editor for several other influential journals in the field. Dr. Day is the lead editor on the book Leader Development for Transforming Organizations: Growing Leaders for Tomorrow (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004) and the author of the publication Developing Leadership Talent. A Guide to Succession Planning and Leadership Development (Society for Human Resource Management Foundation, 2007). He is a member of the Academy of Management, International Leadership Association, International Association of Applied Psychology, Society of Organizational Behavior, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He received his Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology in 1989 from the University of Akron.

Michelle Harrison is a junior lecturer (assistant professor) of organisational behaviour in the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick, Ireland. She received her Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology at The Pennsylvania State University in 2008. In addition to examining the processes of leader development, her research focuses on understanding the influence of leadership on employee well-being at work, including factors such as meaningful work, work–life balance, and creativity. She received her B.A. from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and her M.S. from The Pennsylvania State University.

Stanley M. Halpin (Stan) has worked for the Department of the Army for 38 years. He is also an adjunct member of the faculty of the Graduate School, Kansas State University. For the last 25 years he has served as the chief of the U.S. Army Research Institute’s research group at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This group, until recently known as the Leader Development Research Unit, has conducted research on the U.S. Army’s tactical decision making processes, staff performance, and development of training techniques for decision makers and decision making groups. Over the last few years the Research Unit has extended its research program to address leaders’ interpersonal and team skills as well as cognitive skills. Dr. Halpin has a B.S. in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in social psychology from Purdue University.

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