Developing executives through work experiences

By Morgan W. McCall, Jr.
Center for Creative Leadership


Executive development, often thought of solely in terms of educational programs, actually occurs primarily through on-the-job experiences. Surprisingly little research exists, however, on the kinds of experiences that make a difference, or what difference they make. This paper summarizes a series of studies of successful, high-potential executives that addressed these issues. It describes 16 developmental experiences, the elements that made them developmental, and the lessons executives said they learned from them. Making better use of experience is a significant challenge for organizations that are serious about the development of executive talent.


McCall, M. W., Jr. (1988). Developing executives through work experiences (Technical Report No. 33). Center for Creative Leadership.

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