From above – and from below
"The primary reason why Africa's people are poor is because their leaders make this choice," concludes Greg Mills in his recent book. He was a prominent member of the Danish funded Africa Commission.
Adrian Leftwich, from the Developmental Leadership Programme, disagrees. He participated in writing the Joint Statement (see box) from the five major research programmes that presented their findings in Copenhagen in March. And he has interesting things to say about leadership.
His key point is that it is not an individual 'leader', as the 'great man or woman' of history, who, on her/his own, is responsible for developmental change. Leadership is a political process played out through institutions and policy choices. It is not a function of the personality traits of a leader.
African leaderships in both the public and private spheres (and especially in civil society), not only politicians and bureaucrats, will need to campaign for, negotiate, and design their own institutional and policy choices that work locally.
How that happens, and how local and national leaders may be supported, is the central issue in Adrian’s invitation for a discussion. Join it on our blog.