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Leadership development: learning from best practices

Sheri‐Lynne Leskiw (School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Parbudyal Singh (School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 17 July 2007




The main purpose of this paper is to conduct a systematic review of the literature on best practices and propose a series of steps or practices that practitioners can use in developing and assessing their leadership development strategies and programs.


This is a review paper. An extensive literature review was conducted (by searching texts and business databases, such as ABIInform/Proquest, for “leadership development best practices”). Once an organization was identified, several criteria were used to decide whether it would be included in this study: independent analysts classified the practice as “best” in the leadership development area; leaders were “made” through integrated, multi‐mode programs that included top management support, systematic training, etc.


Six key factors were found to be vital for effective leadership development: a thorough needs assessment, the selection of a suitable audience, the design of an appropriate infrastructure to support the initiative, the design and implementation of an entire learning system, an evaluation system, and corresponding actions to reward success and improve on deficiencies.

Research limitations/implications

The paper identified “best practice organizations” by reviewing the literature. While this is an acceptable method, it resulted in wide range of determining criteria.

Practical implications

The most important implication of this paper is practical in nature. Essentially, organizations can use the six stages identified in the paper to help them develop and implement effective leadership development strategies.


Leadership development has become a key strategic issue for contemporary organizations. There is considerable evidence to suggest that organizations that do not have properly structured leadership development processes compete in the marketplace at their own peril. Several organizations have reported successes with particular approaches, yet an examination of the literature reveals that the lessons emanating from these success stories are generally not presented in a holistic manner. This is the need that we address in this paper.



Leskiw, S. and Singh, P. (2007), "Leadership development: learning from best practices", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 444-464.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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