Love and leadership

OSISA and the African Leadership Centre have just run a course in Lusaka on Leadership and Society. We asked the participants to send us their thoughts


October 28th, 2013

Every society has a leader. But what is leadership? Is it a person, result, position or process?

What attributes does a leader need? Is love one of those attributes? Those are the reflective points to be addressed in this note.

Of course, we usually think of leadership as a person in a particular position. However, there is no agreed definition of leadership. Nonetheless, leadership is generally understood as a process where a person in a particular position motivates others toward a particular goal.

At that point, another key question arises – what are the attributes of a leader? Are leaders born? Do attributes such as being knowledgeable, decisive, strong, male or female contribute to effective leadership?

While there is no clear cut list of the attributes that are necessary to ensure that someone will lead effectively, I believe that love is one of the attributes that all effective leaders need.

Actually, as one renowned person said ‘leadership is love in operation’. Love cannot only be limited to relationships between families, friends and colleagues. There is need for love between a leader and their followers. For a leader to empathise s/he needs to love the follower – to motivate someone in a particular direction, a leader also needs to be able to love.

Effective leadership will definitely be achieved when love is accepted as an essential component of leadership.

I mean is love present when leaders plunder and loot resources for their personal benefit, while others are dying of hunger, sleeping out in the rain or not getting necessary medication?

Can a leader who really loves his followers use his/her position to oppress others?


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