This paper contributes to the literature on entrepreneurial leadership development. Leadership studies are characterized by an increasing emphasis given to an individual leader's social and organizational domain. Within the context of human capital and social capital theory, the paper reflects on the emergence of a social capital theory of leadership development. Using a retrospective, interpretivist research method, the authors present the experience of a cohort of business leaders on an executive development programme to uncover the everydayness of leadership development in practice. Specifically, they explore how entrepreneurial leadership develops as a social process and what the role of social capital is in this. The findings suggest that the enhancement of leaders’ human capital only occurred through their development of social capital. There is not, as extant literature suggests, a clear separation between leader development and leadership development. Further, the analysis implies that the social capital theory of leadership is limited in the context of the entrepreneurial small firm, and the authors propose that it should be expanded to incorporate institutional capital, that is, the formal structures and organizations which enhance the role of social capital and go beyond enriching the human capital stock of individual leaders.