Evaluating The Virtues Project as a leadership development programme
Newstead, T and Dawkins, S and Macklin, R and Martin, Angela, Evaluating The Virtues Project as a leadership development programme, Leadership, 16, (6) pp. 633-660. ISSN 1742-7150 (2020) [Refereed Article]
This article contributes to an emerging field of virtue-based leadership development scholarship by reporting on the first known empirical evaluation of The Virtues Project as a leadership development programme. This exploratory study seeks to understand if or how The Virtues Project might facilitate the development of good leaders. Our understanding of ‘good’ is informed by the notion of virtue and the philosophy of virtue ethics, and we adopt a critical realist evaluation framework to distill what about The Virtues Project works for whom in which contexts and why. Our study employs a longitudinal comparative case design composed of multiple in-depth interviews with nine leader participants and their colleagues over the duration of five months. Findings indicate that (a) The Virtues Project training was experienced as a trigger event that fostered leaders’ new understandings of what virtue is and how virtues inform behaviour, and (b) The Virtues Project training equipped leaders with language-based strategies to incorporate virtues into their leadership practices. In sum, participating leaders felt that The Virtues Project facilitated the development of their leadership by enabling them to understand and recognize the best in themselves and others (virtues) and to incorporate virtues into their leadership practices. Limitations and future research are discussed.