Making Leadership Development Accesible

Too often the conversation about leadership development is wrapped in the context of Western ideals and practices, creating a narrow view of leadership development excluding those in the broader global context. Though leadership principles can be applied throughout cultural contexts, they are applied differently with different points of focus. Leadership development happens differently in China where there is low individualism and high power distance than it will in Belgium where their individualism is incredibly high along with their uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede, 2016). For a global community, leadership development needs to be approached from a variety of angles to achieve the highest impact in any given context.

One problem with leadership development is the exclusion of a high percentage of individuals caused by limited availability. Two particular groups of people often left out are those who cannot afford systematic leadership development, which includes many in developing countries and from lower socioeconomic classes and those who are not in formal leadership positions within organizations (Van Velsor et al., 2010). It is this reason democratization is so important to raising the global leadership acumen. Democratization is an inclusive process to reach leaders from all walks of society regardless of current position or economic status (Van Velsor et al., 2010).

In order to successfully implement a strategy of democratization, barriers such as overcoming the traditional view that those in positions of authority are exclusively leaders while others are not, causing investment in the ‘others’ to be viewed as a waste of resources (Van Velsor et al., 2010). This perpetuates the second barrier of high price attached to receiving leadership development, keeping leadership development out of reach of many individuals around the world.

How can leadership developers make a living and still provide training to those outside of authority positions and who cannot afford it?


Hofstede, G. (2016). Cultural Dimensions. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Van Velsor, E., McCauley, C. D., Ruderman, M. N., & Center for Creative Leadership (Eds.). (2010). The Center for Creative Leadership handbook of leadership development (3rd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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