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Design-driven leadership training

Tan, L., Mattila, P., Iverson, A., & Hopwood, J. 2022. Design-driven leadership training: Nurturing emerging leaders into leadership roles, in Proceedings of the Academic Design Management Conference 2022, pp209-221.


Emerging leaders are high-performing staff that show great promise as a leader. They often represent their senior leadership team in driving strategy. They also support on-the-ground staff in the day-to-day operations. This represents a dichotomy of skills and qualities expected of emerging leaders. While there are many training programmes available for individuals in established leadership roles, there is still little to no focus on programmes that cultivate emerging leaders. This paper explores the design and impact of an emerging leadership training programme. We scaffolded the programme with a design thinking framework to 1) provide participants with a personalised leadership training experience, 2) enable participants to create tangible leadership learning outcomes, and 3) develop their empathy skills in a team environment. We then interviewed the participants 18 months post programme to identify the impact of the programme and the design activities. We report on how design activities in the training programme reinforced the participants’ leadership learnings and facilitate a change in their mindset, from a team player to a team leader. This paper demonstrates the value of design activities in changing individual mindsets and reinforcing learnings in the context of leadership training.

keywords: leadership training; design-driven training, culture change