Our experience of capacity building has shown that for organisations to fundamentally change, their leaders themselves have to change. Leadership development is universally recognised as a priority capacity building need for strengthening civil society in Africa. Yet our knowledge of how and why this is critical process occurs is quite limited. To address this gap INTRAC undertook a 50-day research project in Malawi to understand more about this process of change amongst civil society leaders. INTRAC undertook in-depth interviews with 10 respected leaders that were recorded and transcribed. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants in Malawi and South Africa as well as an extensive literature review. The prime audience for this research is international NGOs who are actively interested in supporting leadership development with their partners. It is also aimed at leaders of civil society organisations in Africa as well as providers of leadership services.