Where do leaders come from? How are their motivations shaped? How do they accrue and make use of the resources available to them? And how can these processes be effectively supported? These questions are at the heart of DLP’s interest in understanding developmental leadership. For over a decade, DLP has examined how individuals and coalitions gain the motivation and skills to overcome structural barriers and drive progressive change.
This paper builds on DLP’s extensive findings to date, and sets out a refined approach to guide the next phase of in-depth research. It argues that future research on developmental leadership can usefully adopt a leader-centred approach. This implies a key shift in emphasis for future projects, from tackling the structure-agency question at the institutional level, to a sharper focus on the everyday choices and dilemmas that individual leaders confront. Crucially, this means closer attention to leaders’ background and socialisation, how they see the world, and how this shapes their choices.