Chapter 1: Beyond the ‘spider’s web’: an introduction to The Field Guide to Leadership Development
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In this opening chapter we seek to address three purposes. First we outline the focus of the field guide book – experiential learning. Experiential learning in leadership development has been dominated by outdoor (and indoor) activities such as the spiders’ web. However, the ability of such activities to capture the complexity of leadership practice is rather restricted. We explore this point and suggest there is much need for alternative experiential processes that are more suited to the development of leadership practice. Second we outline the chapters of the book that provide a spectrum of approaches that have been developed and tested in the ‘field’ of leadership development. All of the approaches are fundamentally aligned to advancing leadership practice through reflection. Third the chapter seeks to illustrate a style of writing that is commensurate with a field guide. We seek to be direct and engaging; rooted in theoretical arguments yet accessible and connected to everyday practice; provocative and reflexive. The chapter concludes by arguing for reflection and practice to become an essential part of organizational leadership. To that end we offer up the notion of the ‘leadership practice field’ and pose the question ‘how can we enable those who lead to practise leading’.

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