Incorporating Networks into Leadership Development: An Organizing Framework for Evaluating Research and Practice



This presentation introduces a conceptual framework to inform leadership development research and practice by leveraging views of leadership as a multilevel and relational phenomenon. Contemporary definitions of leadership emphasize that leadership involves not only leaders, but also followers, and the social relational processes connecting members of dyads and larger collectives. These views suggest that efforts to increase organizational leadership capacity, should target the development of social relationships or social networks. Despite calls for inclusion of networks into leadership development, the research and practice of leadership development have not fully embraced the potential of networks as targets of development. This research clarifies the intersection between networks and leadership development and takes stock of the current state of both science and practice through a review of the relevant literature and a survey of leadership development practitioners.

Kristin Cullen-Lester, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a top-ranked, global provider of leadership education. Kristin leads CCL's R&D work in the area of networks and leadership. Her research examines relational theories of leadership, leaders' professional networks, and the role of networks in shared leadership, complex collaboration, and implementing change. She was awarded the Alfred J. Marrow New Directions in Leadership research grant to examine the impact of agile work practices on the development of team networks and a research award from the Academy of Management Organizational Change and Development division to develop a measure of cumulative workplace change. Kristin recently served as the Guest Editor for a special issue of The Leadership Quarterly on Collective and Network Approaches to Leadership. Her research can be found in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice. Kristin also publishes her work in book chapters and whitepapers designed to reach practicing leaders. Kristin serves on the editorial boards of the Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and the Journal of Business and Psychology. Kristin earned an Honors B.S. in Psychology and Commerce from the University of Toronto and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Auburn University.