African leadership: surfacing new understandings through leadership development
International Journal of Cross Cultural Management
This article provides an account of meanings and connotations of ‘African leadership’ emerging from research with a cohort of participants on a Pan-African leadership development programme. We begin by reviewing current approaches to leadership, and how they have been applied to the study of leadership and management across cultures, before introducing the notion of the ‘African renaissance’, which calls for a re-engagement with indigenous knowledge and practices. The findings from our study indicate a tension between accounts and representations of leadership and the potential for leadership development to act as a forum in which participants can work through these issues. In developing an Afro-centric perspective on leadership, we propose that development activities that promote relational, critical and constructionist perspectives on leadership, with an emphasis on dialogue and sharing experience, could be an important means for surfacing new insights and understandings. In particular, they offer a mechanism by which participants can enhance their sense of ‘self in community’, generate shared understandings, challenge repressive power relations, and develop culturally appropriate forms of leadership behaviour. We conclude by proposing that further research is required on leadership in Africa that steps outside dominant methodological and empirical paradigms, and argue that such work holds great potential for generating insights not just relevant to leadership in Africa but to leadership studies in general.
Draft version issued as working paper. Final published version available online at http://online.sagepub.com/
Vol. 9, Issue 1, pp. 69 - 86