DeWesternizing Leadership Development

The very nature of a true leader is the focus of people development. Whether it is developing others for the sake of organizational success, or developing others for the betterment of the individuals’ lifestyles, leaders are driven to develop individual; this is what sets them apart from managers (Northouse, 2013). Leaders who have the capability, means, and opportunity should strive to develop leadership skills abroad in order to better the world as a whole. This, however, can create a number of challenges that need to be overcome. This is why the concept of democratization is so important in leadership development. Democratization is the process of inclusion to develop leaders from a variety of demographics rather than just the top of the socioeconomic pyramid or the corporate elite in positions that can afford leadership development (Van Velsor et al., 2010).

One of the biggest challenges for American leadership developers to overcome in the pursuit of increasing leadership acumen abroad is filtering everything through a Western mindset (Van Velsor et al., 2010). If leadership developers begin with encouragement, empowerment, and appreciation, they will speak a universal language that can break through cultural boundaries around the world (McKnight, 2012). When people receive these three elements they sense they are valued (Sorensen et al., 2004), and as leadership developers, this increases the probability of success in developing leaders abroad. Encouragement, empowerment, and appreciation are also effective regardless of the position individuals hold or the size of an individual’s wallet. Leadership development should be available to anyone interested in growing because it increases their own personal well-being and success opportunities (Northouse, 2013). When leadership development is available to all individuals regardless of class or status, whole communities benefit and increase the overall global leadership capabilities.


McKnight, L. L. (2012). Global Consulting: The Use of Self to Transfer OD Values into National Cultures. Organization Development Journal, 30(2), 67–77.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Sorensen, P. F., Head, T. C., Yaeger, T. F., & Cooperrider, D. (2004). Global and international organization development (4th ed.). Champaign, Ill.: Stipes Publishers.

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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