Leadership Development and Social Capital: Is There a Relationship?

Significant resources of time, money and expertise are invested in leadership development programs, and networking is often cited as a benefit of participation in these programs. Previous research has traditionally focused on leadership as an individual attribute, but researchers and practitioners are increasingly recognizing leadership as a social process. Social capital has emerged as an important theme in leadership research, and networking and relationship-building are important steps in enhancing social capital. Based on this review of recent literature, I conclude that the relationship between social capital and leadership is well documented, but we have an incomplete understanding of the dynamic nature of this relationship, and lack sufficient evidence to support a causal assertion that one leads to the other. Researchers and practitioners should develop new leadership development program evaluation methods and designs, in the context of social capital, to answer these questions.