In comparison to the vast literature on leadership theories, concepts, and behaviors, relatively less is known about why leaders often learn little from their leadership experiences, as well as how to support them in doing so. We propose that leaders learn more from their challenging leadership experiences when they are in learning mode, defined as intentionally framing and pursuing each element of the experiential learning process with more of a growth than a fixed mindset. We describe how the extent to which leaders are in learning mode stems from salient mindset cues and guides whether they work through the experiential learning process with a predominantly self-improvement or self-enhancement motive. We theorize about several other likely mediators and moderators of when being in learning mode will manifest in experiential leadership development. Practical implications at the micro, meso, and macro levels, as well as within management education are outlined.
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