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Leader development approaches that engender leadership effectiveness among natural scientists in Uganda: a comparative study.

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Most natural scientists are promoted into leadership positions based on technical competence, yet technical capabilities become less vital as leadership responsibility increases. While scientists need to adopt leader development approaches that engender leadership effectiveness, this area is not well understood. Previous studies have pointed to a dearth of literature on effective leader development approaches, bemoaning the struggles organisations and leaders face in identifying appropriate methodologies and the attendant costs associated with the typical haphazardness. This mixed-methods, sequential explanatory, comparative study aimed to examine the experiences of leadership development among natural scientists in supervisory positions and the relationship between development approaches and perceived leadership effectiveness. The study applied a constructionist lens and used the theory of expert leadership as the central frame, with social identity and planned behaviour as secondary theories to explain some of the antecedents of effective expert leadership. The study integrated quantitative analysis of a cross-sectional survey of 221 Ugandan leaders with the thematic analysis of data from two focus groups and semi-structured qualitative interviews among 21 scientists and 11 non-scientists. The study provides new insights into the leader development phenomenon, specifically in how leadership conceptualisation, attitudes, beliefs, social-identity, self-efficacy, subjective norms and organisational culture, systems and policies impact the appetite for leader development. The study demonstrated a dose-response relationship where leaders highly exposed to mentorship, feedback, e-learning or formal leadership training were significantly more likely to have higher leadership effectiveness. The study found that coaching, mentorship, feedback, formal leadership training, acting in a leadership role, and experiential learning appear to be more impactful in nurturing leadership skills among natural scientists. Despite the limitations of a small sample, the study identified specific applications of these leader development approaches that make them engender leadership effectiveness. The study concludes by recommending the ABC model of leader development. The model could be useful in guiding leaders, educators and policy elites responsible for engineers, physicians and agriculturalists to design more effective leader development programmes.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.