The benefits of a long-lens approach to leader development: Understanding the seeds of leadership

Susan Elaine Murphy and Stefanie K. Johnson
The Leadership Quarterly Vol. 22, Issue 3, Pages 459–470

Although research has identified techniques for leader development, most of the extant research has focused on development in adulthood, ignoring development at an early age. A recent resurgence in interest in the genetic or other early development factors, such as attachment, points to the benefits of understanding the developmental trajectories (Day,
Harrison, & Halpin, 2009) of individuals throughout adulthood. This paper argues for an examination of the earliest “seeds” of leader development. In this paper we present a framework that explores the tasks of leadership at various ages before adulthood, the skills
required to accomplish these tasks, and the mechanism by which younger leaders develop these skills. In understanding what skills and what features of leadership identity have long roots, we can begin to understand more fully the developmental needs of adults. Without a more comprehensive look at leadership over the lifespan, leader development practices will not meet their full potential.