Social Leadership




A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell


Guest Blog: A background Introduction of Social Leadership

Peter Musa


A person who devotes life and talent to improving society regardless of social standing, wealth, or privilege.

Qualities of a Social LEADER

  1. Broadens our possibilities to achieve goals Protects human and nature’s freedom Safeguards, ensures people’s prosperity
  2. Preserves peace
  3. Deepens our life experience by sharing thoughts and experiences
  4. Uplifts mankind and its vision


The six pillars of social leadership:

Submission: Social leaders believe in and submit to a Higher Power, by whatever name and through whichever means they choose. They find inspiration, guidance, and stability from a source higher than themselves. Submission is the source of motivation and vision and ensures humility.

Oneness: Social leaders feel an abiding sense of unity between themselves and nature, other individuals, institutions, and the universe at large. They know their thoughts, habits, and actions directly result in societal consequences. They know they are cells within a larger body.

Calling: To be a social leader is to know with certainty that you were born for something great, unique, and specific. Furthermore, it is to know that if you don’t live up to your mission, the world suffers. The calling of a social leader is manifested in things that he or she can/can’t do because of the inner voice that compels and drives them. It permeates their thoughts, emotions, actions, and habits.

Integral Education: Integral means entire; complete; whole. Integral education, therefore, is education that leads to whole truth and complete “beingness.” It extends far beyond technical knowledge and specialized expertise. It explores human nature and seeks to answer such questions as, “Who are we? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? What should our ideals be and how can we achieve them?” Not only is such an education whole in scope and methodology, but also its core purpose is to develop whole individuals — in other words, social leaders.

Action: Social leaders bridge the gap between what is and what should be. While others are confused, despondent, and waiting, social leaders are confident, optimistic, and acting. They know that profound thinking must lead to appropriate and energetic action.

Liberty: Social leaders; as they are intimately aware of the art, science, and process of government; they act within their power to secure and preserve freedoms for all races, genders, and cultures.


The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader

A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires them to innovate, think creatively, and strive for perfection. Every team has a boss, but what people need is a leader who will help them achieve greatness.

Social Leadership is not something soft, something ‘nice to have’, something of an add on to formal power: it’s central to the authority we need to wield in the Social Age to truly lead. Through the permission of our communities.


A Kenya’s historical journey of Social leadership

Kenya has a starring reference of social leaders; people who have demonstrated social leadership during the pre and post-independence. They acted in selflessness with intention to forewarn, guide and lead the African communities towards greater common good, that of safeguarding the continuity of their civil and cultural rights, values and norms. They also marshaled the Africans towards the colonialism resistance movement and advancement of westernisation, which was threatening to undermine their liberty through seeking the extinction of their fully established structures of leadership and governance. Such were Koitalel Arap Samoei, Mugo wa Kibiru, Mekatilili wa Menza, Chief Lenana and Chief Waiyaki Wa Hinga, to mention but a few. With the formation of the Imperial British East Africa (IBEA) in 1872 was a logistical company for the colonialists, the construction of the railway line was just underway, reaching Nairobi in 1899 after the completion of the Mombasa-Nairobi highway in 1895. Now the British imperialism was full blast and wanted to occupy the territory within Kenya, through Entebbe and all the wat to Malawi. When Chief Waiyaki wa Hinga and the Kikuyus refused to corporate in supplying grain for the construction workers, this read to a full blown revolt which extended to other communities in the region and Waiyaki ended up being deported to the Coast and was killed on the way.

Although it’s not usually given as an outright reference, it’s the championing of these heroic leaders that inspired into more pre-independent and post-independent civil, social, economic and political freedom struggles.

Early Activism:

We see Harry Thuku forming the Young Kikuyu Association (YKA) as early as 1921 to agitate for the rights of Kenyans. He did so to supplement Kikuyu Association (KA) which was formed earlier and comprised Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu and other chiefs in the surrounding communities. Thuku renamed the YKA the Kikuyu Central Association to include agitation for the education of the Africans. This movement resulted in the establishment of Kikuyu Independent School’s Association (KISA) and the Kikuyu Karing’a Education Association, a remarkable deal towards empowering youth who were later to join the freedom movement as empowered, enlightened and educated freedom fighters.

By late 1940s and early 50s, the wind of new awakening was blowing across the Continent, Kenya inclusive. This wind of change is the one which blossomed early African educators to join the freedom struggle. We began to see the faces of Kamau wa Ngengi aka Johnstone Kamau (who later became Jomo Kenyatta as the first president of Kenya and one of the founding fathers of our Kenyanhood. Other social leaders were Ochieng Aneko, Kung’u Karuba, Ronald Ngala, Oginga Odinga.

After independence, Kenya has experienced several reforms with the major ones being in the political field with the agitation for multi-party. In 1988 for example, we see Prof Wangari Maathai, who was later to become a Nobel laureate in 2004 when she was awarded The Peace Nobel Prize, standing up against the untouchable Kanu leadership particularly to oppose the construction of a Ksh4.5bn 60-storey structure right in the heart of Uhuru Park. Fear gripped many Kenyans as there had been a series of unexplained deaths and torture happening to people who opposed Kanu system that had entrenched itself so deep and wide it was almost impossible to raise a challenge-single-handedly against it. Prof Maathai’s one-woman struggle eventually paid divided with her activism and a few other supporters managing to convince the international community not to fund the project.

Before then though, Kenya had witnessed several heroes such as Tom Mboya, who was shot dead as the minister for Economic Planning and Development in July 1969. As if he had a premonition for his final journey on earth, he asked a taxi driver called Gethenji “I hope you have taken the number plate” as he was driven inside Another was Pio Gama Pinto, felled by an assassin’s bullet in February 1965. Ten years later, J.M Kariuki was lured by familiar faces outside Hilton Hotel parking and found murdered 11 days later, to mention some of them, who unfortunately paid the price of social equality for the citizens with their own lives. Other deaths were that of freedom fighters’ Ronald Ngala, in a road accident in 1972 Jamhuri Day at Konza; and Kung’u Karumba who disappeared on a business journey to Uganda in 1974. The above leaders were socialists who advanced the course of the majority citizens against the advancing capitalism which was blowing with it prime resources of the land. Later foreign affairs Minister Robert Ouko also disappeared in February 1990, only for his remains to be discovered at a mountain thicket, near his Koru home.

On the positive upthrust

In 1992, Kenya held the first multi-party elections, after the repeal of the One Party system clause. Thuis followed the agitation of political pluralism. One of the bloodiest incident was the ‘Saba Saba’ rebellion which was led by late politician and socialist, Ken Njindo Matiba. Others who played a critical role in the fight for multi-party democracy were Martin Shikuku, George Anyona, Rev. Dr. Timothy Njoya, Bishop Henry Okulu, Bishop Gitari, Bishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, Oginga Odinga, later Raila Odinga, Njeru Gathangu, Gitobu Imanyara, Paul Mwite, etc.


State of affairs of our social leadership currently

What are the challenges?

After Kenya got into multi-partyism, the leadership spectrum has changed. The feeling that things have improved and that the democratic field is level and therefore democracy should take its course has failed to safeguard Kenya against the current social justice challenges.

What are we doing wrong than right?

  1. We lack truly dedicated social leadership, and the few we have are obscured by pluralism influence. They are ascribed as tribal chauvinists who are interested with power for themselves.
  2. The majority of Kenyans who become the majority sufferers when economy is blundered, does not rally behind such social leaders’ intention to speak out for them;
  3. Sadly, the citizens interpret such cause being advanced by a social leader as being a politically triggered agenda, especially if the person advancing it is from another tribe that is not pro their party.
  4. Our man is being targeted syndrome that feeds into further disenchantment towards an all-united welfare worthy cause.
  5. Consequently, we are where we are; people cannot be objectively criticized and be held into account all because we are held at ransom through the marked rifts of tribe, community, our man, our community political front, etc.
  6. We are purchased in our mind by so-called tribal leaders, whom we look up to for opinion readers but then who are interested at their targeted positions in politics more than their people’s social and economic liberation.

Looking at Social Leadership from a business model point of view:

Strength: A social leader has an added advantage over an ordinary manager. (See separate doc of ‘Boss or leader’). He or she seeks solutions, recognizes natural gifts, solicits others’ views and contributions; is collaborative/believes in team spirit; and is forward looking as opposed to ‘this is how we always do it’ mentality. He is the first to follow and the first to lead. These attributes make him or her able to move forward with a decision, and an admirable team player.




Attributes Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat
Seeks solutions/Takes responsibility Does not look at others for solutions Can make regrettable mistakes Can grow a buzz empire with a single solution Can be taken advantage of
Solicits for others’ contributions Will get immense knowledge/skills for diversity of solutions Might be compelled to take wrong decisions to accommodate others’ feelings Has chance to get a pull of ideas that can be used later or elsewhere Creating enemies when he fails to accommodate them
Collaborative/believes in team spirit Team spirit energizes one’s vision/motivates Hard to measure/reward individual capabilities collaborative Economies of scale Turn down by team members can weaken your forward resolve



Business model/Income

A social problem: Water crisis

Project: A local borehole water treatment & supply project

Clients: All the homesteads

Benefits:              Community kitchen gardening

Livestock management/Commercial irrigation

Enhanced nutrition from kitchen gardening

Clean, safe water, less infections (cholera, etc)


Prospects Trends, and forecasts within the Social Leadership scope/Employment: One Professor remarked: “There is more money to be made than ideas chasing the money”. Based on the above, we need everything thinking from a solution solving perspective to come up with a to a social problem. While you can be trained formally on skills that can help you get a job, or how to run an entrepreneurship, creating a new to solve a social problem is usually a personal gift or even commitment. But we can borrow from others and think out. In fact, somebody’s idea solution and be become my next job opportunity.


Look into the policy framework question:

  1. We need to change the Youth Empowerment programme (under Youth Fund) to become an opportunity for individual to grow their own ambition. We see the problem being that of grouping youth together towards one entrepreneurship/business opportunity. This defeats the logic that each person’s own uniqueness and creativity than does not attract another person to be engaged in it.
  2. We need an open market where youth’s creativity should be patented and protected and then negotiated with government support for adoption by private sector. The sealing of a patent/prototype will protect the patent and the innovator from being exploited in negotiation.
  3. The youth’s creativity and innovation above should be supported with funding and technical support during the innovation/talent development.
  4. The market should be facilitated through an open government structured system that seals off any conning/exploitation.


“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”  Robin S. Sharma

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Musa is award-winning journalist with 15 years of writing and media consultancy. He received the Peter Jenkins Award for East African Conservation Journalism, 2004 and Uandishi (Print Media) Award for human rights reporting by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, 2005. He has consulted for several social and business publications, locally and internationally. Peter’s career began as an intern with Nation Media Group in 2000, rising to a staff reporter, before leaving in 2009. He joining The Financial Post (Business weekly publication) as a Special Projects Editor. He has a Diploma in Photo Journalism from Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, and a Certificate on Media Strategies for Social Change from Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Centre, Israel.




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