HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society


Leadership means taking on the responsibility of creating conditions that enable others to achieve a shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. In this chapter, Harvard Kennedy School lecturer and life-long social activist Marshall Ganz describes how leadership in social movements is distinct from leadership in organizations. He finds that the role of leadership in social movements extends well beyond the stereotypical charismatic public personas with whom they are often identified. He investigates social movement leadership and the volatile context in which motivational, relational, strategic, and action skills--and the capacity to develop these skills in others--play key roles. Who are social movement leaders? Where does social movement leadership come from, and why? How do leaders of social movements help others develop a personal story that connects and commits them to the movement? This chapter explores these questions by analyzing historic examples of social movements--from the Biblical story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt, to the American Civil Rights movement, the farm workers' movement, and the women's movement.


Ganz, Marshall. "Leading Change: Leadership, Organization, and Social Movements." Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice. Ed. Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Harvard Business School Press, 2010, 509-550.