Leadership development of the future: stakeholders & aesthetic learning

Due to the increasing complex problems we are facing as individuals, organizations, institutions, society, the  ‘genius with a thousand helpers leadership model’ is more and more replaced by ‘shared leadership’. This has implications for leadership development.  

Let me start by being ‘the master of the obvious’ by stating that the old idea of having 1 professor or trainer explaining how the world works for several days will be replaced by several professors, trainers, coaches who together with the participants  think, act, reflect on how the leadership of their organization can be increased. The participants are no longer coming from 1 organization, but  represent the eco-system from the organizing organization:  large customers, suppliers, consultants and other stakeholders are also invited. Trying to get the whole system in the room is present in every aspect of the course. If, for example, a 360° feedback instrument is used, not only business connections are invited to give feedback, but also family and friends. In addition, designing a course is more and more guided by the idea of where you want to increase social capital (i.e. quality of the relationships between stakeholders), instead of human capital (i.e. increasing skills & knowledge) in the eco-system of the organization.

A maybe less obvious but even more important part is that the idea of leadership development as an event, as a logical course of few days with a ‘star professor’, is more and more replaced by leadership development as an aesthetic process of months, if not years. Aesthetic learning implies that the different impressions the participant experience are related to each other and form one whole. The creation of this whole is the result of the participants reflection, of their interpretation of themselves and the world that integrates their thinking and emotions, the speakable and unspeakable, the logical & causal with the absurd & indirect1. Practically this means that things like location, atmosphere, energy, rhythm, type of food, authenticity of professors, trainers, coaches, all become much more important.

In sum, leadership development institutes and HRM should no longer sell you individuals but sell you an aesthetic development process for all stakeholders involved.


1 inspired by  Bennyé D. Austring & Merete C. Sørensen (2013). Aesthics and learning. International conference of the future of education. http://conference.pixel-online.net/edu_future/common/download/Paper_pdf/ART07-Austring,Sorensen.pdf


About Jesse Segers

Academic Director of The Future Leadership Initiative
This entry was posted in 19. Leadership development, 2. Shared & collective, 8. Development & mindset, Comments & events, English, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Leadership development of the future: stakeholders & aesthetic learning

  1. Johan Roels says:

    Is Leadership AND Leadership Development not one and the same process? That’s the way we see it. As my mentor dr. Charles Leroy Palmgren pointed out this afternoon in our regular ooVoo talk, Henry Nelson Wieman – who coined the Natural Learning and Growing process (of the mind) and gave it its name in his book Man’s Ultemate Commitmenet (1958) – wrote ten years before another book The Source of Human Good. In that last book he describes what you (and I suppose Austring & Sorensen) call ‘Aesthetic Learning’. I see Aesthetic Learning as, like HN WIeman as Creative Interchange.

  2. Jesse Segers says:

    Interesting question you raise. In my view I would say that leadership includes leadership development but not necessarily the other way around. I’m not familiar enough with the work of Henry Nelson Wieman to judge your comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s