Portsmouth Business School

Leadership Development

The need for capable and responsible leaders within organizations and wider society is ever increasing yet the role becomes more complex year on year.  The team at Portsmouth Business School research and deliver training and development interventions that can make a difference to individual leaders and leadership in general.

Effectiveness of Leader(ship) development

Leadership development and training is costly, with the investment estimated to be between $10–50bn a year.  Yet often there is little evidence to demonstrate a return on this investment and transfer to the workplace remains a challenge. Only 38% of organisations rate their leaders as excellent or very good, while 31% believe their leaders are poor or fair.  It has been suggested that organizations and countries are no better led now than they were a century ago, and recent media attention on high profile cases even suggests that leader(ship) may be getting worse. We therefore argue that careful planning and research based interventions are critical and endeavour to ensure that evaluation is considered at the start of any project.

Leader training or leadership development? 

Leader training is very different from leadership development and distinguishing between the terms used is important when selecting interventions and evaluating effectiveness.   Leaders are individuals; leadership is a collective, process and culture.  Training provides discrete skills over the short term, whereas development builds on and enhances existing abilities over the longer term.  Therefore, any project taken on by the team will start with the important questions; is it leaders or leadership and are we training or developing?  All are possible.

Our Team

Margaret MacKay held the role of Head of Recruitment at the British Council and was required to recruit and select management and leaders for international network which contributes to her exemplary understanding of key leader(ship) skills.   Furthermore, as Senior Consultant for the US Missile Defence Agency, she gained extensive experience by developing organization-wide competency framework and online skills development assessment for the launch of a corporate university.  Since joining the university Margaret has been course manager for the Postgraduate DHRM programme and has co-designed and delivered the leader(ship) units delivered at the University to both these students and undergraduates.


Previously Alex Tymon was Head of HRD at Telewest communications and National Training Manager at Compass group. Within these roles Alex was responsible for leader(ship) and talent development programmes, at multiple levels, from design through to delivery within a commercial environment. Since 2007 Alex has co-designed and delivered leader(ship) units delivered at the University to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.


Current Projects

Alex Tymon and Margaret MacKay are continuing work on the theme of 'business buccaneers' following publication of a paper on this topic. This explores an apparent dichotomy between the espoused desired for responsible future leaders and organisational reality which may favour more traditional models.

Margaret MacKay and Alex Tymon have produced an outline for an emergent leadership development programme for under-graduates based on research into employers' needs and wants.

Alex Tymon collaborates with colleagues from Durham and Warwick in researching Implicit Leadership and Followership.

Alex Tymon is continuing work with a colleague at Durham business school investigating implicit leadership theories and the endurance of traditional leadership traits associated with the `great men` theories of 80 years ago.  Two comparative studies are also under discussion with colleagues in Japan and Honduras.

Becky Quew-Jones, Margaret Mackay and Alex Tymon are researching the assessment and development of emergent leadership potential in graduates.  A recommendation for an extra-curricula development programme for under-graduates is near completion.

Margaret Mackay & Alex Tymon are working on the concept of `business buccaneers` and the apparent dichotomy between the espoused and reality of organizational desires for future leaders.