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This paper examines leadership development in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and assesses the extent that
they constitute distinctive contexts for leadership approaches and practices. The results of an empirical survey issued in
one country provides some evidence for sector differences whereby leadership is conceptualized and practised with a greater
emphasis placed on normative, ethical considerations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Leadership development in the
private sector is more strongly motivated by instrumental economic concerns. Whilst this sector difference is not new or surprising,
the potential for greater sectoral distinctiveness in leadership approaches and their development warrants more discussion
by academics and practitioners in leadership development.
This study of leadership development examines five leadership approaches (charismatic, transformational, authentic, servant
and spiritual) and six common leadership development practices (360 degree feedback, mentoring, coaching, networks, job assignment
and action learning). Leadership development practices are similar across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
Furthermore, charismatic and transformational approaches do not appear to discriminate effectively between private and public
sector leadership. However, interpretation of the data strongly suggests that leadership theories and practices should be
more flexible to the sectoral contexts.
Private sector models of leadership development superficially appear to be adequate in so far as they share substantial commonality
with the public and not-for-profit sectors in their development practices. However, respondents from the public and not-for-profit
sectors are less convinced by the importance of some of the private sector ‘s approaches and its dominant values such as preparedness to facilitate the leaders’ confidence and power to create effective
leadership. This distinction requires further investigation in future research on theories, practices and contexts for leadership