Skip to main content
Innovative Reflection Tools for Developing Leadership for Transformation
International Leadership Association (2009)
  • Susan R. Madsen, Utah Valley University
  • Katherine A. Tunheim, Gustavus Adolphus College
Since developing leadership is seeded in learning, there is a continuous effort to understand the most effective methods and techniques to assist individuals in becoming leaders. The purpose of this engaging workshop is to offer a variety of innovative tools that both academics and practitioners can use with adult learners in various settings to help them further develop leadership knowledge, competencies, and skills through enhanced reflection experiences. We cannot help create leaders who transform without helping them first be transformed by their own learning experiences. Learning that transforms individuals is learning that changes individuals. Since developing leadership is a transforming process, transformational learning theory provides a valuable theoretical lens to guide this session. Merriam and Caffarella (1995) explained that “transformational learning theory is about change—dramatic, fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p. 318). They explained that this kind of learning is more than merely adding to what we already know. It shapes people; “they are different afterward, in ways both they and others can recognize” (Clark, 1993, p. 47). Mezirow (1991) and Merriam and Caffarella (1995) argue that this theory focuses on three core components: 1) Mental construction of experience: through engaging with each life experience to make meaning that there is an opportunity for a change in perspective and behavior; 2) Critical reflection: effective learning follows effective reflection, not from the experience itself; individuals must not only think about their experiences, but they must also examine the underlying beliefs and assumptions that influence how they make sense of their experiences; and 3) Development and action: to truly transform, they need to try out their new knowledge, skills, or roles and then build new competence and self-confidence. Hence, critical reflection is one of the three core components of transformational learning, and we would argue that it is also a critical component of the leadership development process. In this 75-minute session, participants will learn about the reflection tools, practice using them, and then share their experiences with others in small groups. Each participant will receive a packet that includes descriptions of each tool, technique, and activity. This will include references and lists of additional resources.
  • leadership,
  • reflection,
  • transformation
Publication Date
November 13, 2009
Citation Information
Susan R. Madsen and Katherine A. Tunheim. "Innovative Reflection Tools for Developing Leadership for Transformation" International Leadership Association (2009)
Available at: