The article distinguishes between leaders and leadership on the one hand, and leader and leadership development on the other. It then explores a particular mode of leadership development, based upon membership of the UK Academy of Chief Executives (ACE). Semi-structured interviews, documentary analysis, and participant observation were used to study the experiences and obtain the views of members of the North East England branch of the ACE. It is argued that leadership development has often been equated with leader development, with the resulting focus upon the individual, as against attending to the social, political, collective and other contexts of action and meaning. Social capital theory, following Day (2000), is drawn upon in order to help conceptualize and apply leadership development in context, where the emphasis is upon understanding and building relationships and networks, coordinating activities, and developing commitments.
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