The context in which most civil society organisations (CSOs) work is constantly evolving, often rapidly. In response, leaders of CSOs must therefore be leaders of change in their own organisations. In order for organisations to develop and change, practical capacity building experiences are revealing that leaders themselves have to develop and change. Leadership development is therefore being prioritised as a crucial capacity building intervention, both by leaders of African CSOs themselves as well as by donors and other stakeholders.
Libraries overflow with material about leadership in a Western commercial context, but there is very little published information about the particular realities that civil society leaders face in Africa, and even less about the factors which influence those individuals to change their leadership behaviour. To address this knowledge gap, three capacity building organisations in Africa undertook a joint research programme. CORAT Africa in Kenya, INTRAC in Malawi and the Community Development Resource Network (CDRN) in Uganda interviewed 45 non-governmental organisation (NGO) leaders to find out their perspectives on leadership; the nature of the leadership change processes they had experienced; and the factors that had promoted and constrained change in their leadership behaviour in the past.