Chapter 8. Democratizing Leader Development

David G. Altman

Lyndon Rego

Steadman D. Harrison III

The field of leadership development does little for most of the world's people. The vast majority are young, live in rural areas and densely populated cities in developing countries, have had limited access to school education, do not work in formal organizations, and survive on less than two dollars a day. Obviously leadership skills are relevant to these populations; all humans aspire to create better lives for their families and their communities, particularly in the face of poverty, hunger, oppression, and conflict. Individual well-being depends on the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, motivate and influence others, and secure income.

But is the practice of leadership development relevant to them? Can leadership development professionals materially improve the human condition? Imagine our world if leadership development professionals could offer leadership development at all levels of society and not just to elite populations able to afford formal training programs. Might there be fewer wars? Less hunger and disease? Might more people recognize their talents and potential? Could we solve problems more creatively? Could we better leverage our diversity? We think the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

Consider a rural town in central Uganda where we conducted a leader development workshop in 2007. At its conclusion, an individual who had formerly been part of a ...

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