Global leaders’ perceptions of elements required for effective leadership development in the twenty-first century

Rob Elkington, Noel James Pearse, Jennifer Moss, Madeleine Van der Steege, Suzanne Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to develop a clear answer to the question “how is leadership developed?” This research utilized the knowledge of leadership development experts and their collective expertise to identify the critical elements required for a high-quality leadership development program. Design/methodology/approach: The Lockean Inquiring System approach to the Delphi technique was used to solicit the views of experts in leadership and leadership development from around the world. Experts for Round 1 of the Delphi were drawn from a random sampling of 100 people, comprising leadership researchers, coaches, and organizational leaders, not personally known to the lead researcher of this project, but in his LinkedIn network. A response rate of 13 percent (n=13) yielded a rich range of qualitative data. Responses from the first round of the Delphi were analyzed using open coding and categorized into four themes, representing four sets of competencies required of leaders. Findings: The four themes were labeled as contextual, human capital, social capital, and structural capital, all of which were seen by participants as being central to the development of collective leadership. Based on these themes, this paper identifies a useful list of key leadership development tactics from which those wishing to develop a leadership program can work. Research limitations/implications: As the first round of a Delphi study, the authors are limited to presenting only the key elementary empirical judgments. Subsequent study with an expanded sample size and a refined set of questions rooted in the current data will contribute further to the development of factual propositions related to leadership development for the twenty-first century. The Delphi survey is a “snapshot” approach and presents a holographic-type image of the complex whole. The authors plan to triangulate the data by significantly expanding the pool of Delphi experts and conducting the Round 1 survey a second time with a larger international group of respondents that fit the criteria of expert. Practical implications: This paper presents four dimensions of an effective leadership development strategy. Originality/value: Core elements of the best methods for leadership development have been identified by leadership development experts, which serve as a basis for developing leadership as a collective, and for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1038-1056
Number of pages19
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 13 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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