Organizational Leadership Development in Malaysia: Current Practices, Challenges and Future Potentials

Victoria Jonathan and Hana Hamidi


As a developing country, Malaysia depends not only on foreign investment, good infrastructure and technology but also on the talent and leadership abilities of its future leaders (Boatman, Wellins, & Wong, 2011). Leadership has long been identified as a key determinant of successful organizational performance. Effective leadership development programs, practices and systems provide for these capable leaders. Previous studies have demonstrated links between leadership development and performance (Amagoh, 2009; Bandura, 2006). Therefore, it is important for organizations to consider developing leadership capabilities to ensure effective leadership practices and organizational performance. In the Malaysian context, the importance of leadership is reflected in the government’s support for human capital development and developing capable leaders through investment in leadership development initiatives.

V. Jonathan (*) • H. Hamidi

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia © The Author(s) 2017

A. Ardichvili, K. Dirani (eds.), Leadership Development in Emerging Market Economies, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-58003-0_8

This importance also resonates in the academic literature where there has been increase in the number of studies related to leadership styles and approaches (i.e., Gharibvand, Mazumder, Mohiuddin, & Su, 2013; Lo, Ramayah, Min, & Songan, 2010) and leadership development (i.e., Abdul Wahat, Krauss & Othman, 2013; Konting, 2012) in various sectors.

This chapter presents some of the leadership development practices, challenges and potentials in the public and private sectors in Malaysia. The chapter is divided into four major sections. The first section discusses an overview of organizational leadership in Malaysia to set the stage for understanding leadership behavior and preferences in the Malaysian workplace. The second section describes current leadership development practices, programs and systems in the public and private sectors, including a brief description of a national leadership development initiative. In the third section we look at some challenges to leadership development. The final section identifies implications for research and practice for sustainable leadership development in the country. Our aim in this chapter is not to present a comprehensive review of organizational leadership development literature in Malaysia. Instead, we provide an overview of some of the initiatives intended to develop an understanding of the Malaysian workplace perspective and to give us insight into what we need to know further about leadership development in the Malaysian context.

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