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, 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.
Professor 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.
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.”
· Developing Global Leaders: Insights from African Case Studies is published by Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-3-030-14605-4.