Learning to lead: the development and testing of a model of leadership learning

Giles Hirst*, Leon Mann, Paul Bain, Andrew Pirola-Merlo, Andreas Richver

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Drawing upon an action learning perspective, we hypothesized that a leader's learning of project leadership skills would be related to facilitative leadership, team reflexivity, and team performance. Secondly, we proposed that new and experienced leaders would differ in the amount they learn from their current and recent experience as project managers, and in the strength of the relationship between their self-reported learning, facilitative leadership, and team reflexivity. We conducted a 1-year longitudinal study of 50 R&D teams, led by 25 new and 25 experienced leaders, with 313 team members and 22 project customers, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. We found evidence of a significant impact of the leader's learning on subsequent facilitative leadership and team performance 8 and 12 months later, suggesting a lag between learning leadership skills and translating these skills into leadership behavior. The findings contribute to an understanding of how leaders consolidate their learned experience into facilitative leadership behavior.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)311-327
    Number of pages17
    JournalLeadership Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Early online date16 Apr 2004
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


    • facilitative leadership
    • leadership experience
    • leadership learning
    • team performance
    • team reflexivity


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