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Purpose

The purpose of this reseach is to.


Design/methodology/approach
A qualitative research design was adopted. Empirical data were gathered from 11 semistructured interviews with
senior leaders in the Irish public, voluntary (nonprofit) and private sectors.
Findings
The analysis led to the identification of developmentoriented themes in the leadership literature, and the provision of
insights regarding the developmental influences, core activities (vision and mobilisation) and the contextual influences
(sectoral and societal) which affect appropriate leadership behaviour.
Research limitations/implications
Although the study is limited by its small sample it provides a basis for further research and draws attention to
personal leader development processes. In particular the importance of formative experiences on leaders'
development, their struggle to attain balance, the need for advanced emotional management skills, the capacity to
work with collectives of people and to adapt to contextual demands are emphasised. The study suggests that future
research investigate how contextual factors influence the adoption of certain leadership styles.
Practical implications
The study explores personal perspectives on fundamental leadership development themes, of pragmatic value to
established and aspiring leaders interested in enhancing their capacity to lead.
Originality/value
This paper considers leader development from the viewpoint of frontline actors. As such it adopts an intrapersonal
focus, considering the development journeys of individual leaders. The paper extends the traditional focus on the
transactional and relational dimensions of leadership behaviours to incorporate the formative experiences and
contextual factors that influence leadership.