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Learning to lead: evaluating leadership and organizational learning

Meredith A. Atwood (Walden Consulting LLC, Granville, Ohio, USA)
Jordan W. Mora (Walden Consulting LLC, Granville, Ohio, USA)
Abram W. Kaplan (Walden Consulting LLC, Granville, Ohio, USA and McPhail Center for Environmental Studies, Denison University, Granville, Ohio, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 29 September 2010



This paper aims to evaluate leadership diffusion in a federal agency within the context of organizational learning and culture change.


Using an innovative 360 degree survey assessment method, the impact of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Leadership Program (LP) was examined. A series of statistical tests was performed to analyze the role of familiarity and exposure in predicting leadership behavior and to compare the level of leadership behavior among co‐workers based on exposure to the LP.


The findings indicate that familiarity is a critical predictor of behavior change across all co‐worker subgroups. Increased exposure to the LP results in stronger, more consistent predictive models. Finally, co‐workers with higher exposure to the LP have increased levels of leadership behavior.

Research limitations/implications

The results in the study suggest that, in order to promote leadership and organizational learning, familiarity with leadership skills is essential. Furthermore, the greater the familiarity with leadership through at‐work interaction, the more likely co‐workers are to learn and apply leadership techniques.


The study is especially unique and valuable due to the advanced 360 degree assessment which acts as a tool to measure the diffusion of leadership principles from LP participants to co‐workers, while also analyzing the role of participant interaction with co‐workers following their participation in a leadership class.



Atwood, M.A., Mora, J.W. and Kaplan, A.W. (2010), "Learning to lead: evaluating leadership and organizational learning", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 31 No. 7, pp. 576-595.



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