Leadership shaping experiences: A comparative study of leaders and non-leaders

Karin Amit, Micha Popper, Alon Lisak, Reuven Gal, Tammy MamaneLevy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose By comparing “leaders” with “non leaders” the current research attempts to shed light on the impact of early experiences on leaders' development. Design/methodology/approach The study is presented in two parts, quantitative and qualitative. In the first (quantitative) part, a group of soldiers perceived as leaders was compared with a group of soldiers perceived as non leaders, in order to examine the hypothesis that leaders have had more leadership experiences than non leaders. Confirmation of this hypothesis led to the qualitative part, in which the sense in which the reported experiences had contributed to leadership development was explored. Findings The leaders proved to have had more leadership experiences than non leaders in their youth. Such experiences impact on self perception as a leader, the development of self efficacy in leadership, and the accumulation of psychological and behavioral knowledge related to the manifestation of leadership. Practical implications Conceptually, the study adds knowledge regarding leadership development via natural experiences, particularly experiences that occur in early periods of life. Practically, the study adds knowledge that can improve selection processes of leaders, as well as knowledge that can be applied to leaders' development, particularly reflective methods. Originality/value The contributions of this study are methodological, conceptual, and practical. The study offers methods and instruments to assess leadership and distinguish leaders from non leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-318
Number of pages17
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Experiential learning
  • Leadership
  • Leadership development
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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