Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact

ISBN: 978-1-80071-365-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-364-2

Publication date: 13 May 2022


(2022), "Prelims", Gray, H., Gimson, A. and Cunningham, I. (Ed.) Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. i-xxi.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Harry Gray, Anne Gimson and Ian Cunningham

Half Title Page

Developing Leaders for Real

Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact

Endorsement Page

Developing Leaders for Real – ENDORSEMENTS

“Over the last few years, it has become increasingly clear to most providers, prescribers and consumers of leadership development programs that too often, the impact of these programs is much less significant and durable than the world rightfully expects from them. This stimulating book examines the causes of this situation and proposes a number of excellent and diverse principles and practices that will help improve it. It is an essential read for anyone – academic or practitioner – interested in making leadership development the game changer that the world needs it to be if we are to tackle the world’s problems more effectively.”

Jean-François Manzoni, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development and President, IMD

“As someone who has worked both in commercial and in development, I have spent most of my career looking at performance and seeking the best ways in which to help others, particularly leaders, realize their full potential. I am delighted to finally find a book that brings to life a collection of thought provoking, ‘real world’ examples of Leadership Development. I was struck by the timeless nature of the underpinning principles and excited by the evidenced and proven practical examples shared, finding myself going back to chapters particularly relevant to me currently. I would highly recommend ‘Developing Leaders for Real’ for any professional involved in Leadership Development who has a curious mind and believes there must be better ways in which we can help leaders be their best self. You’ll find your answers here!”

Richard Brooke, Talent Director, AMEA/APAC, Bacardi

“Ever noticed how your leaders often don’t seem to apply formal learning? Why? Because, ultimately, the learning journey is deeply personal and fraught with complexity. There are thousands of books that purport to tell you how get it right. I finally found one that delivers on the promise: its evidenced, globally relevant, written by people who walk the talk and topped off with a how-to guide. What more can a learning professional ask for?!”

Tania Hector, Global Head of Learning, Nestlé

Title Page


Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact

Edited by




Strategic Developments International (SDI)



Self Managed Learning College

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2022

Editorial matter and selection © 2022 Harry Gray, Anne Gimson and Ian Cunningham. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited.

Individual Chapters © 2022 Emerald Publishing Limited.

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-80071-365-9 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-364-2 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-366-6 (Epub)

Dedication Page

From Harry: To Keek who sustained me throughout the writing of this book.

From Anne: To my husband, Andrew and my daughter, Natasha, with love and gratitude.

From Ian: To Jane, David and Lucy – for being there.


List of Figures and Tables ix
About the Editors xi
About the Contributors xiii
Foreword – Peter Honey xvii
Acknowledgements xxi
Developing Leaders: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Anne Gimson, Harry Gray and Ian Cunningham 1
Leadership: A Function of Organisations as Complex Systems
Harry Gray 17
Self-Managing Leaders: Lessons in Learning
Ian Cunningham 27
Leadership Development: Examples from Central and Eastern Europe
Magdolna Csath 43
Learning Leadership in a Multicultural Country: South Africa
Chris Van Wyk 55
Leadership Development Across the Divides: From Triple Helix to Converging Spheres
Tony Eccles 63
Leadership Development in Higher Education Contexts: Exploring the Efficacy of Widely Used Approaches
Brian Findsen 73
Leadership Development Lessons: Contextual Enablers within Organisations
Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari 85
Learning in Groups: Working with Difference
Michael Reynolds 97
Holistic and Strategic Leadership Development: The Impact of Self managed Learning
Anne Gimson 111
Service Leadership Development: Service-Learning at a Hong Kong University
Maureen Yin Lee Chan and Robin Stanley Snell 125
Space, Place and Time: How Consideration of these Factors Impact Leadership Development Design and Practice
Arthur F. Turner 139
Organisations as Soap Opera: Leading Change and Continuity Through Narrative-based Organisation Development
Anne Murphy and Jonathan Gosling 151
Treading the Noble Eightfold Path: A Leadership Development Strategy in a VUCA World
Joan Marques 163
The Role of Coaching and Mentoring: Addressing the Leadership Deficit
David Clutterbuck 175
Where Next for Leadership Development? Problems, Potential and Possibilities
Ian Cunningham, Anne Gimson and Harry Gray 187
Index 201

List of Figures and Tables

List of Figures

Fig. 1.1. The Integrative Function of Learning and Development 11
Fig. 6.1. The Converging Spheres 64
Fig. 14.1. The Noble Eightfold Path 168

List of Tables

Table 4.1. Leadership Values and Soft Skills 44
Table 13.1. Analytic and Energising Themes Required in the Narrative About the Prospective Merger 153
Table 13.2. Tips for a Story-based Approach to Managing a Merger Process 161

About the Editors

Harry Gray has worked in education throughout his career at all levels. He helped establish education management as a sub-discipline and has been a consultant in all sectors including industry and the third sector. He is CSO of CANAL Ltd working to develop the labour market through retired people.

Anne Gimson is CEO of Strategic Developments International (SDI), and has supported organisational leaders in their development through Self Managed Learning programmes and individual/team coaching for nearly 30 years. Working cross-culturally in some of the world’s largest businesses, she is also Editor-in-Chief of Development & Learning in Organizationsan international journal.

Dr Ian Cunninghan is the Founder of Self Managed Learning (SML) College in Brighton. He is also a:- Dancer (member of Three Score Dance Company since 2011); Welder (City and Guilds qualified); Organisation Development Consultant (for 40 years); Writer (8 books and over 100 other publications); Company Director.

About the Contributors

Dr Maureen Yin-Lee Chan is currently Part-time Lecturer at Lingnan University. She has professional experience in training and human resource development in various industries in Hong Kong. She obtained her PhD in Management Learning and Leadership from Lancaster University.

David Clutterbuck is one of the earliest pioneers of coaching and mentoring. Co-founder of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, he is Visiting Professor at four universities. He is the author of 70+ books and is Practice Lead of Coaching & Mentoring International and Co-Dean of the Global Team Coaching Institute.

Dr Magdolna Csath is a Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Professor at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and Private Professor at National University of Public Services. She serves on the National Competitiveness Council of the Minister for Finance. She is a Leading Scholar on innovation, competitiveness and management.

Dr Tony Eccles is a Visiting Professor of Leadership for Competitiveness and Change at Suffolk Business School. Formerly Professor of Strategic Management at London Business School, he also held Professorial positions at Glasgow, Cranfield and Bath Universities. He is the author of Under New Management, Succeeding with Change and (co-authored) Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense.

Dr Brian Findsen, Formerly Professor of (Adult) Education at the Universities of Glasgow (2004–2008) and Waikato (2008–2019), has worked most of his working life in adult education. His main research interests include learning in later life, social equity issues and international adult education.

Dr Jonathan Gosling is an Emeritus Professor of Leadership at Exeter University in the UK and Consultant at He is a Lead Faculty with the Forward Institute promoting responsible leadership in government, NGOs and business; and hosts annual writing retreats on Lambay Island near Dublin.

Dr Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari is a Country Head (People & Organisation) at Siemens Limited, India and leads the HR function. She has 23 years of experience as a doctorate in leadership development and is passionate about talent and leadership development. She has also co-authored a book on HR Strategy – Architecture for Change.

Dr Joan Marques is a Reinvented Entrepreneur and Multimedia Host, who currently serves as Dean and Professor of Management at Woodbury University’s School of Business. She has co-authored more than 35 books and engages in various social entrepreneurial endeavours. Her writing focusses on Buddhist Psychology, Awakened Leadership and Spiritual practices.

Anne Murphy is a Researcher and Consultant with many years’ experience of individual and organisation development. In her Consulting career, she worked internationally using action research and action learning to support change initiatives. She has worked with a number of European universities on applied organisational research and learning programmes.

Dr Michael Reynolds is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Organisation, Work and Technology; Lancaster University Management School. Main areas of interest have grown from teaching postgraduate students and include theories and application of group dynamics; ideas of learning, reflection and critical reflection in the context of management pedagogies.

Dr Robin Stanley Snell is currently Visiting Professor at Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. Previously he worked at Lancaster University, City University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University. He has published extensively in internationally respected journals on responsible corporate management, management and organisational learning, and related topics.

Dr Arthur Turner is a Senior Lecturer with the University of the West of England. He currently facilitates learning around aspects of coaching and creativity. His own research has allowed him to grasp an understanding of how to apply philosophical and creative principles to groups learning about leadership.

Dr Chris Van Wyk is currently an Extraordinaire Professor at North-West University in South Africa. His wide focus was on transformation in the education sector through learning and development, change management and strategic planning. He was academically linked to developmental activities in different countries and continues to supervise doctoral students.


I once worked with a distinguished leader of a large organisation. Whenever things went awry (unfortunately, quite often) he tended, like so many leaders, to blame his direct reports. According to him, it was always their fault. Not surprisingly, they had a different version of events. Among other things, they complained that he was moody, indecisive and failed to take them into his confidence.

I, an impartial outsider with no axe to grind, was invited to help the leader work out what he could do to improve relationships. For an agreed period, I met with the leader bi-weekly for a two-hour session. We always started with a review of what had happened since we last met. He would look in his diary and describe various happenings, some that had gone well and, inevitably, some that had not gone well. With the latter, he always insisted that it was because other people had let him down. I would invite him to reflect on whether he could have handled the situation differently, but, despite my best efforts, I always drew a blank. He could not or would not accept that his behaviour might have been a contributory factor. He remained adamant that other people needed to change, not him.

Sadly, in my experience this sort of intransigence is not unusual in senior people. The notion that they, not just the people who work with them, could benefit from some learning and development too often falls on deaf ears. This is why developing leaders is such an intriguing challenge: a challenge greatly eased by the ideas offered in this book.

Leaders (though few will admit it) are lonely people with few, if any, confidants they can trust. They wrestle with a constant stream of uncertainties: how to let go and yet stay in touch, how to know what’s really going on in their organisation, how to decide between conflicting priorities, how and what to delegate, how to motivate people, how to stay focussed on long-term strategies when current problems are pressing, how to stay positive on off-days, how to admit they were wrong/have had a change of mind … the list is endless. Perhaps the biggest problem is an underlying fear of losing control, especially as every organisation has a built-in propensity to fail and being in control is illusionary! It reminds me of the lonely navy commander who would use the ship’s tannoy system to announce from the bridge:

Now hear this,

Now hear this.

This is your captain speaking,

This is your captain speaking.

That is all,

That is all.

Little wonder that leaders either crave certainty, longing to be told The Answer or convince themselves they have seen the light and write boastful books full of homespun hubris.

So, being a leader is fraught with uncertainty and the only lifeline is, I believe, to become an effective learner, using everyday experiences as the raw material. However, most leaders are puzzled by people like me who extol the virtues of experiential learning and even go so far as to recommend that they should be role models for continuous development and create work places where learning is built into the way things are done, actively encouraged and supported. Mistakenly, most leaders believe that learning is something that only happens in formal classrooms or lecture halls or on didactic courses. The idea that everything that happens, nice or nasty, planned or unplanned, provides an endless stream of learning opportunities, waiting to be reflected upon and converted into useful insights and improved actions, is somehow viewed as not ‘proper’ learning. Or perhaps, deep down, leaders are worried that they might be caught learning, with the implication that they, like all ordinary mortals, are ‘work in progress’: developing leaders.

This book has some wise and welcome recurring themes. Here are just four:

  • Leading is multifaceted and complex.

  • Effective leadership is situational, rendering simplistic ‘one size fits all’ formulas totally inadequate.

  • Experiential learning (i.e. ‘real’ learning) is the key to continuous development.

  • The most appropriate learning for leaders is self-led, and preferably supported with help from a dispassionate listener.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been approached by organisations inviting me to design a course that would meet a perceived need, usually in my case to improve teamwork or the effectiveness of management meetings. I quickly learnt that there were two big snags with these invitations. Firstly, since I had not been involved in any diagnosis, I was expected to proceed on the assumption it was sound and true. Secondly, in effect I was being invited to collude with the conclusion that a course was the answer. I therefore used to rebel and insist on having direct access so that I could observe the team meetings first hand. Once access was gained, I was not only free to carry out my own diagnosis but, even more importantly, I could kick start the learning process by providing feedback, asking questions and encouraging reflection. Having inveigled my way in, I gambled that the participants would value the process and forget all about the initial request for a course! It mostly worked but what a shame to have to resort to subterfuge to make the point.

None of the contributors to this book would pander to requests for ready-made answers. Instead, in an accessible and evidenced way, they share their carefully considered views about the subtleties and complexities of helping leaders to develop. Since, like it or not, leaders shape organisational cultures and too many of them are toxic, what could be more important?

Dr Peter Honey

October 2021


This book could not have been completed without the assistance and support of many people, not least our contributing authors from around the world who have so willingly shared their skills and expertise. Neither could we do what we do without the energy and enthusiasm for learning from the many leaders with whom we have worked over the years, nor without the unfailing and invaluable support of our families and friends.

In bringing this book to life, we also want to say a special thank you to our Content Editor, Helen Eldakrouri, for her attention to detail and valuable suggestions; to Aiswarya Mahathma Suritha and the Emerald production team for making it easy to work with them and most importantly to our publisher, Fiona Allison, for believing in the original message we wanted to share and for her professionalism, guidance and light touch during this literary journey.