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The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development, Third Edition by Marian N. Ruderman, Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia D. McCauley

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Chapter 5. Leader Development and Social Identity

Vijayan P. Munusamy

Marian N. Ruderman

Regina H. Eckert

A fundamental development need for any adult, and one especially important for anyone in a leadership role, is to integrate the various aspects of self into a coherent whole that provides the basis of one's values, thoughts, and behavior—an integrated identity (Day, Harrison, and Halpin, 2009; Lord and Hall, 2005). Yet it is still easy for organizations to forget that their employees are more than just their professional identities, assume that their employees could leave their nonprofessional self at home, and dismiss the role of nonprofessional identities for effectively completing organizational tasks. Employees themselves often fail to acknowledge that their identities at the workplace are more than their work roles and responsibilities.

In today's networked multicultural world, neither organizations nor individuals can afford to forget or dismiss the importance of nonprofessional identities for building both individual and organizational capacities. An individual's social identity—which is a big part of nonprofessional identity and has to do with group memberships such as nationality, race, gender, language, religion, generation, sexual orientation, and the like—is particularly important for leader development, and is the focus of this chapter. Tajfel and Turner's (1979, 1986) theory of social identity and the associated self-categorization theory (Turner, 1982, 1985, 2004) ...

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