U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



The Leadership Quarterly 20 (2009) 34–48; doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2008.11.003


A multilevel model is offered proposing that organizational learning is an interdependent system where effective leaders enact intervention strategies at the individual (micro), network (meso), and systems (macro) levels. We suggest that leaders approach organizational learning by setting the conditions and structure for learning to occur, while limiting direct interference in the actual creative processes. First, leaders may increase the level of developmental readiness of individual followers, thereby increasing their motivation and ability to approach learning experiences and adapt their mental models. These individuals then serve as catalysts of learning within and between social networks. Second, leaders may promote the diffusion of knowledge between these knowledge catalysts within and across social networks through influencing both the structure and functioning of knowledge networks. Finally, leaders may target actions at the systems level to improve the diffusion to, and institutionalization of, knowledge to the larger organization.