Are Water-Related Leadership Development Programs Designed to be Effective? An Exploratory Study

Water resource professionals and others involved in managing water resources face increasingly complex challenges. Effective leadership development programs are needed to produce water leaders who can address these challenges. Leadership programs must be designednot simply to increase participants’ environmental and leadership knowledge but to develop in participants the requisite abilities and skills. This exploratory study determines the extent to which water-related leadership programs go beyond knowledge only, event-type workshops to determine what proportion are grounded in leadership theory, and employ developmental experiences with assessment, challenge, and support components. Results indicate that most water professionals and others seeking to develop 21st century leadership abilities and skills to manage water resources are not getting the developmental experiences they need. Water-related leadership development programs must be grounded in evidence-based theory; provide assessment, challenge, and support; and offer a variety of developmental experiences and the opportunity to learn from experience. There is an urgent need for new or revised leadership development programs for those interested in water resource management.