Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Leadership Development Theory for Executives | Skills Training

Leadership development plays a huge role in making organizations successful. It equips executives with the skills they need to inspire and lead. This article looks at the history of leadership theory and how it’s shaped over time. It covers traits, behaviors, situations, and new leadership styles.

It also checks why leadership training matters and how studies pick the best methods. We also talk about the main parts of good leadership development programs for high-up leaders. With a deep understanding of leadership development, organizations can choose better training and coaching. They can grow the next set of great leaders.

Key Takeaways

  • Leadership development is crucial for organizational success, helping executives build critical skills and competencies.
  • The article explores the evolution of leadership theory, covering trait, behavioral, situational, and new leadership eras.
  • A rapid evidence assessment examined the rationale and characteristics of effective leadership development programs.
  • Investing in leadership training and coaching can help organizations cultivate the next generation of visionary leaders.
  • Understanding the theoretical foundations and empirical evidence surrounding leadership development is key for strategic planning.

Understanding Leadership Development

Leadership training matters a lot. Good leaders help organizations succeed. Programs to make leaders better are very important. They help those in charge become more skilled. The focus, how they’re taught, and their success can be different. To see what works best, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) did a study. They looked at a lot of scientific research about leadership training.

Rationale for Leadership Training

Teaching leaders is key for success. It helps leaders learn how to motivate their teams, make changes, and reach goals. When companies invest in training, they prepare future leaders. These leaders will understand the challenges of today’s business world.

What is a Rapid Evidence Assessment?

A rapid evidence assessment (REA) is a quick and in-depth look at research. It finds and examines the best studies on a topic. The idea is to be clear, check for quality, and avoid bias. This method helps look deeply at studies about leadership training. It finds out what really works and why.

Research Methods and Study Selection

The study on how leaders develop used a detailed search strategy. This strategy looked at big databases like ABI/INFORM Global and PsycINFO. It also checked the Education Resources Information Centre (ERIC). The study focused on articles in journals between 1980 and 2023 for certain types of research. It looked at articles from 2012 to 2022 for others. All the work used lots of different words to find the best studies on leadership and management, among other topics.

Search Strategy

A first round picked up over 700 articles to look at. The team read through titles and summaries to see if they might work. They ended up with 25 articles to study in 2013, 21 in 2019, and 15 in 2022. Any copies were taken out during this phase.

Selection Process

The next step was to fully read and examine these 61 chosen articles. The team looked at things like how the studies were done and what they found. They were interested in seeing if the training made leaders’ skills better at work. After this, they selected only 43 articles for the study.

Data Extraction

From these 43 articles, the team took out key details. This included when the article was written, its size, who took part, and what was found. They focused on understanding what makes training programs good and bad for leaders looking for ways to improve their skills.

Critical Appraisal

The researchers checked how good the studies were. They looked at the way each study was done and its quality. This made sure only the best research was used. The goal was to provide trustworthy information for those wanting to learn more about becoming better leaders.

Research Methods and Study Selection

Leadership development theory for executives

Leadership theory has evolved through four main eras: trait, behavioral, situational, and new leadership. Each era has contributed to our understanding of effective leadership. These ideas shape today’s leadership development programs for executives.

Trait Era: Great Man Theory and Trait Theories

From the 19th century to the early 20th century, the trait era was based on the Great Man theory. It said leaders were born with unique qualities, not made. Famous leaders like Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi, and Napoleon Bonaparte showed these qualities.

Behavioral Era: Behavioral Theory

In the 1940s and 1950s, the behavioral era began. It looked at what leaders do and how they act. This era taught that any person could learn to lead well. It focused on teaching leadership skills and behaviors.

Evolving Leadership Theories

Leadership theory has been getting more complex. New ideas help us understand leadership better in today’s workplaces. The way we think about leaders and leadership has changed over time. Now, we have concepts like shared leadership and servant leadership.

Situational Era: Contingent and Situational Theories

In the 1960s, the situational era started. It said the setting and situation are key in how leaders and followers work together. This theory highlights that the best leadership style varies by situation. For instance, according to Fred Fiedler, a leader’s style doesn’t change. So, they should be in situations that fit their style best.

New Leadership Era: Transactional and Transformational Theories

The 1990s and 2000s brought about a new view on leadership. It realized we can’t just focus on one type of leadership. With things changing fast and the world growing more connected, new ideas were needed. These included transactional leadership, dealing with rewards and punishments, and transformational leadership, inspiring and motivating others.

Emerging Concepts: Shared, Servant, and Inclusive Leadership

New leadership concepts keep forming. Shared, servant, and inclusive leadership are some of these. They push for leaders to share their tasks and empower those they lead. They also aim to help everyone in the group become leaders. Plus, there’s the complexity leadership theory. It looks at the big picture, focusing on the whole organization and its interactions, which is essential in today’s fast-changing world.


Leadership theory has come a long way, showing us what effective leaders do. It all started with models that looked at personal traits. Then, ideas about behaviors and situations added to our knowledge.

Leaders have to keep up with changing business needs. Learning about leadership can help them make better choices. This article has shared many important ideas and trends in leadership.

Good leaders always look to learn and change. They need to be flexible and smart about how they lead. Organizations should help leaders grow, so they can face any future challenge.


What is the rationale for leadership training?

Good managers are key to an organization’s success. Leadership training helps managers and executives get better at their jobs. It’s an essential part of making sure a company does well.

What is a rapid evidence assessment (REA)?

An REA is a way to review lots of studies about a topic quickly. It tries to find the most important ones without bias. By using specific steps, it makes sure the review is clear and correct. This method is better than just looking at studies without a plan.

What were the key stages of the research methods and study selection process?

The process starts with a detailed search. Then, studies go through two steps to see if they match up. After that, the chosen studies are carefully looked at to check how well they were done.

What are the key eras of leadership theory?

Leadership theory has gone through different phases. It started with looking at personal traits that make a leader. Then, it focused on what actions the best leaders take. The theories also consider how leadership changes based on the situation. The most recent era looks at leadership in a more holistic way, considering the followers, the context, and the leader’s impact.

What are some of the emerging concepts in leadership theory?

New ideas in leadership include focusing on roles like sharing, serving, and being open to all. These ideas are part of what’s called complexity leadership theory. This way, leadership is seen as something that involves everyone. It stresses on serving others, sharing power, and helping everyone grow as leaders.
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