How to extract leadership knowledge

[Deutscher Titel: Wie man Führungswissen extrahiert]

Annick Janson
Extracting Leadership Knowledge from Formative Experiences
Leadership, Vol. 4, No. 1, 73-94 (2008)

Abstract: Leadership formative experiences (LFEs) are those experiences that make a high impact on leaders resulting in learning relevant to their leadership. This intervention was designed to capture LFEs through bi-focal lenses of leadership research (explore the process by which leaders build and share knowledge) and development (raise participants’ awareness of self and others to shape effective leadership interventions). Senior leaders participating on a leadership development programme recounted LFEs in peer groups to surface their learning. Most LFEs occurred in adulthood (76%) identifying `self-improvement’ (40%), `coping with struggle'(33%), `personal relationship/role model’ (13%) and `parental/symbolic relationship’ (5%) sensemaking categories. Only 8 per cent addressed a `natural process’supporting a `born leader’ view and 1 per cent involved identification with a cause. Experiences powered `from within’ in pursuit of self-development were more effective in extracting lessons from LFEs than where learning occurred through coping with adversity. The research details LFE impact located in the social construction process embedded in micro-interactions of leaders with those they help develop.

Key Words: development • leadership • management • leadership formative experiences

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© 2008 SAGE Publications

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