What Enables or Disables Leadership for Transformational Change in Africa?

This paper reviews the findings of a study that hypothesised that leadership had been instrumental to bringing about change in Africa but acknowledged that what constituted leadership, and how leadership had facilitated change, was poorly understood. It sought to unpack how change had taken place, how fundamental it had been, the role leadership had played and the factors that had both enabled and hindered the achievement of change. The overarching research question was, ‘What are the enablers and disablers of leadership for transformational change in Africa?’ In order to answer this larger question, we explored six sub-questions: What is transformational change?; Why/how is leadership important for facilitating change and what does ‘leadership’ mean in the African context?; How can we study leadership for transformational change in Africa? ;Where leadership has facilitated change, what factors have led to the emergence of this leadership?; What factors prevent leadership processes from fully realising transformational change?; What generalisable lessons can we learn about leadership in Africa? This paper outlines our findings from nine case studies from six countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda and is divided into five further sections. Section 2 provides a review of the existing literature on transformational change and leadership – focusing in particular on why it is important to understand this in the African context. Section 3 provides a brief justification of the cases we picked out as transformational and outlines the methodology we used. Section 4 examines the factors that enabled the leadership process in these cases, while Section 5 discusses the obstacles that may have prevented change from occurring to its fullest extent. In the final section, we present some of the key findings of the study as well as highlighting areas for further investigation.