Leadership formation: interpreting experience

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In this essay we look at leadership development differently, through the lens of philosophical hermeneutics. We show how three aspects of philosophical hermeneutics - focused on accumulating experience of interpretation, engaging in dialogue and interpreting experience - connect with insights from the leadership development literature and lead to principles for a process of leadership formation. The process we describe explains how formation: extends historically through connection with traditions; involves processes of careful, situated dialogic engagement; and encompasses aesthetic engagement with experience in each event of interpretation. Building on these insights, we derive practical implications for educational policy and practice and develop theoretical implications for leadership development debates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-622
Number of pages53
JournalAcademy of Management Learning & Education
Issue number4
Early online date20 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Leadership
  • Leadership development
  • Formation
  • Philosophical hermeneutics
  • Experiential learning
  • Interpretation


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