Leadership & Social change


Effective leaders develop specific skills, traits and sources of power that help them build social exchanges with followers. These social exchange behaviors have strong effects on the attitudes of followers because they result in the follower’s satisfaction with the leader, group and organization. (Howell, 2006, P.287)  A leader can shape the attitudes of the followers around them by bring together an action and vision of the future in order to produce change. Maintaining the status quo as a manager is not enough; without leadership social change would not occur.

Resilience in a leader is a defining characteristic that pushes one to live above the challenges of other’s inadequacies and trivialities (and even their own). The staying power of a leader is what develops character and insight that cannot be gained artificially in any other way. The challenges that face individuals in modern society aren’t as rigid as the past. People have more freedom, are more open to suppressed issues and we live in an increasingly complex world of social issues which incorporate human rights: poverty, disease, famine and other global challenges. “We are living in a world where everything is in abundance. This is the precursor to the collapse of the world under its pressured systems and prevailing self-absorbed attitudes. Agents of change today do not have rules to play by, the game has changed completely, yet the principles remain the same; change should always focus on the people involved and leaders should ask the question: Does the institution serve the people?” (Karan, 2011, P.1)

A good example of a leader/manager of a nonprofit organization whose work led to social change is Vicky Colbert. Ms. Colbert focused on Economic & Social Equity as a means of change by pursuing her understanding that sustainable development and democracy could not be achieved unless children were educated to become future citizens of society. She became a professional educator that focused on empowering impoverished children in developing countries and developed Escuela Nueva (New School) which evolved from local innovation into an effective national policy which was adopted by Colombia’s Ministry of Education. She then replicated Escuela Nueva throughout Latin America as a regional advisor for UNICEF and implemented similar programs in 16 other countries. As a leader in social change Ms. Colbert provided leadership to followers in her organization which in turn provided “87,000 low income children in Colombia with NEW EN self-paced, self-directed learning materials, covering 30% of the rural primary student population, trained 6.6K teachers in Colombia in the EN model, reaching an additional 8% of the total rural teacher population, trained 100% of school principals in the EN model in the Colombian departments of Boyacá (260) and Quindío (31), and initiated the first phase of their first pilot project in Asia, training 6% of the total teacher population of East Timor (450).”(Skoll, 2010, P.1)


“A natural born leader” Interview with Prof Mohammed Karaan FVZS. (n.d.). Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Retrieved May 25, 2011, from http://blogs.sun.ac.za/fvzs/2011/04/07/%E2%80%9Ca-natural-born-leader-%E2%80%9D-interview-with-prof-mohammed-karaan/
Howell, J.P. Costley, D.L. (2006). Understanding Behaviors for Effective Leadership. (2nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. (210).

Vicky Colbert « Skoll Foundation. (n.d.). Skoll Foundation. Retrieved May 25, 2011, from http://www.skollfoundation.org/entrepreneur/vicky-colbert/


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