Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leadership for What?

This was the question posed to the class by Prof. Jean Lipman-Blumen. I was in the class on Connective Leadership for the 21st Century, offered at Claremont Graduate University. I had just begun my second semester back in school (Jan 2009) working towards my PhD in Political Science. Having worked on Governance and Capacity Development at the World Bank for about 4 years, I had come to believe that leadership had a very important role in determining development outcomes. Jean's question got me thinking about what leadership really means - and got me started on my journey studying leadership and its effects. 

In the political science and economics literature, most academics and researchers tend to downplay the role of leadership and instead choose to focus on institutional factors, history, economic conditions, and international pressures as drivers of change and development.In my own research, I have found that leadership matters most at critical stages of political and economic transitions – in fragile or conflict-affected states, in new governments where ambitions and expectations run high and visible results are key to maintaining momentum for change, and when major reforms require changes in leadership roles at all levels, as well as changes in attitudes, behaviors, practices, and priorities.

Over the past two years, my understanding has evolved to see leadership as the process by which change agents mobilize people, ideas and resources to achieve collective goals. In this blog, I will explore ideas about the role of leadership in public life and its impact on development trajectories of nations. I will also look at the related concepts of good governance and capacity development -- and the importance of an engaged society.

Thanks for stopping by!

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