At the same time as interest in ‘leadership’ as a factor in the processes of development has increased within the international development community, many new Leadership Development Programmes (LDPs) have emerged. The profusion of such programmes operating within the developing world, and the ambiguity with which the concept of ‘leadership’ is often treated, has resulted in difficulty in differentiating amongst (often in reality very different) LDPs.
This paper reviews leadership development programmes as a tool for development policy. We argue that donor and recipient organisations need to be much more discriminating when choosing or designing programmes; that most programmes fall short if their aim is to contribute to development; and that understanding the ‘political’ nature of leadership is key to choosing or designing a good programme.
The study is based on research which reviewed of a sample of 67 different LDPs operating in different regions of the world. It provides a brief overview of these LDPs; suggests criteria and critical questions that should be considered by policy-makers when selecting, supporting or even designing appropriate LDPs; and addresses some of the policy implications raised.
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