Introduction: Our View of Leadership Development

Cynthia D. McCauley

Ellen Van Velsor

Marian N. Ruderman

As in any other discipline, the leadership development field advances its understanding and practice by examining and reexamining fundamental questions. In leadership development, these central questions include:

  • What does it take to be an effective leader?

  • Are some leadership practices more effective in particular contexts?

  • How do people learn important leadership skills and perspectives?

  • What are the necessary ingredients for stimulating development in leaders?

  • What are the impacts of societal and cultural factors on the development of leaders?

  • What are the best strategies for developing shared leadership beliefs and practices in groups, teams, and organizations?

Exploring these types of questions with our clients and colleagues has been the basis of the Center for Creative Leadership's (CCL) efforts to advance the understanding, practice, and development of leadership. In the 1970s, CCL began experimenting with feedback-intensive leadership development programs, which provide participants with a heavy dose of feedback in a supportive environment. Over the years, we have refined these programs and added components, developed more sophisticated feedback tools and methods, and studied the impact of our programs on the participants. We have also studied how managers learn, grow, and change throughout their careers—not just from formal programs but also from the challenges in their working ...

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