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Contemporary visions of leadership in Africa explored in new book

  • New book illustrates the contemporary vision of leadership emerging in Africa
  • Leadership across a range of sectors including universities and science, corporate organisations and business, and rural development, is explored
  • 186 leaders from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda contributed to in-depth case studies
  • Adaptability, integrity and effecting a positive change in society were seen as key leadership attributes by the leaders taking part in the research.
  • The authors hope the book will help support leadership development in Africa

The voices and experiences of civic leaders in Africa are the focus of a new book co-edited by the University of Warwick’s Professor Helen Spencer-Oatey aimed at illustrating the contemporary vision of leadership emerging in Africa and providing a resource for a new generation of global leaders.

Drawing on case studies and survey data, Developing Global Leaders: Insights from African Case Studies explores the personal experiences of a diverse group of civic leaders from 31 countries across Africa. The book highlights their aspirations for the future and their insights on transforming leadership in an age of rapid change.

The book is a collaboration among ten contributors (pictured), including Eva Jordans, Bettina Ng’weno and Helen Spencer-Oatey (editors), Yaw Bediako, Ike Nwankwo, Estelle-Marie Heussen-Montgomery, Mwatima Juma, Kanini Mutooni, Joseph K. Nsabimana and Daniel Dauber.

portrait of 10 authorsProfessor Spencer-Oatey said: “There are very few studies focusing on civic leaders, women leaders and youth in Africa, and very little work has been done on how best to support leadership development in Africa. We wanted to involve leaders on the ground to help investigate these gaps.”

In depth case studies from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda document the personal experiences of 186 leaders, a group made up of 78 young leaders, 108 senior leaders; 123 male and 63 female leaders. The case studies include leaders in the university sector and science; corporate organisations and business; and leaders working in rural development.

Co-Editor, Professor Bettina Ng'weno of University of California, Davis adds: “Studies of leadership in Africa have tended to be proscriptive. In contrast, we draw on the experience of leaders in Africa to describe an African perspective on global leadership. Although these leaders came from diverse countries and backgrounds, they work in rapidly changing societies and this context is reflected in their key leadership attributes”

The authors find three common conceptions and attitudes towards leadership that resonated across all of the case studies: Community and ‘doing good’; changing perceptions on hierarchy; and servant leadership. Adaptability, integrity and doing good were seen as key leadership attributes by the leaders taking part in the research. ‘Doing good’ is understood as aiming to effect a positive change in society, for example benefiting those groups in society that face constraints, or impacting the environment.

book cover

Co-Editor Eva Jordans added: “The initial idea for this book emerged in early 2015. It came from a reaction against common stereotypes of leaders in Africa, where political leaders and dictators have come to stand for all African leaders.

“Contrary to this stereotype, in organisations and businesses all over Africa, senior leaders and increasingly young leaders are full of ambition and drive, wanting to make a difference, inspire others and be a different, “new” type of leader. The book describes the increased role and importance of young leaders, which is a generation that regards itself as undertaking a transformational role – to impact a change.”

“Ultimately, our hope is that the personal experiences documented in this book can serve as inspiring examples for, mostly young, leaders in Africa, and as such support their leadership development.”



This is a timely and much needed book that, most importantly, presents experiences and insights into what it takes to be a good leader in today’s Africa. This is a must-read for all emerging leaders not just in Africa but everywhere!” (Amin Salim, TV Host, African Leadership Series “The Scoop,” Chair, Camerapix and Founder, Mohamed Amin Foundation, Kenya)

This book reveals powerful insights on the changing perception of leadership in Africa today. It validates my position that the future of Africa truly lies in the hands of our youth.” (Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Heirs Holdings)

“A brilliant book on leadership in a rapidly transformative world with a focus on perceptions and experiences of young African leaders. It gives us a portrait of an emerging Africa where benevolence, flexibility and good governance define leadership. Case studies demonstrate transformational leadership across generations, and an opportunity in Africa’s emergent confidence to transform its leadership for greater economic development.” (Bitange Ndemo, Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Nairobi and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kenya)




Sheila Kiggins

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