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HKS Authors

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Abstract

Development requires change. Change is difficult; most observers believe it demands some degree of leadership. But what does this mean: who leads development? What do they do that is so special? Answers to these questions usually focus on high profile individuals we view as heroes. Lee Kuan Yew is seen as the leader of Singapore's growth miracle, for instance; Nelson Mandela is credited as the leader of South Africa's peace process; and Paul Kagame is considered the leader of Rwanda's recent progress. We view similar individuals as 'champions' that make projects work or foster reform success, arguing that these people drive development through their influence and power. This implies that development requires waiting for such people, identifying them, and letting them lead. But what evidence do we have that these people actually lead development? My research suggests that the evidence is slim, and leadership is not just about heroes. It appears to me that any time you see some real change and development it is the product of leadership by many people and organisations working together; not any one hero or champion. I call this multi-agent leadership, and believe it is the kind of leadership needed in development.

Citation

Andrews, Matthew. "We Need to Radically Rethink Who Leads Development and What Hey Do." Guardian, April 2, 2013.