Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Unless you know the road you’ve come from, You cannot know where you’re going.

Written by: on September 19, 2022

“Unless you know the road you’ve come from, you cannot know where you’re going,” an African proverbial saying that underscores the default recourse to history to predict the future or to find an explanation for current phenomena, came to mind as I read the book, Global Leadership Perspectives. by Simon Western and Eric – Jean Garcia.[1] The book by Western and Garcia bring to light some new perspectives in leadership practice that have been overshadowed by the four discourses of leadership that have been advanced by the more dominant Western players in leadership practice and literature. This dominance has been informed by the fact that research and documentation on leadership practice and theory have been dominated by certain business universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and other high-end universities; their research has been funded by the big corporates in the west who determines what is researched on by virtue of their funding role. Research has therefore been done based on the leadership practices in these big dominating Western companies. Research and documentation have not thus been done in other nations across the globe. Western’s work, therefore, brings to the fore hitherto unrecorded leadership practices that have emerged out of the influence of historical and cultural factors in the localized context.

I read Chapter 17 on South African leadership. I again read about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia in Chapters 7 and 8, respectively, because these countries are near my country Kenya. I also took time to read the book end chapters 21, 22, 23, and 24 in detail to understand how leadership practices are influenced by the historical and cultural factors within the country. The imperial colonization of DRC by Belgium and local traditional hierarchical leadership practices influence leadership practices resulting in the outsider leadership practices of paralyzed and racial leadership. Regarding the dominant four discourses of leadership, it emerged that the Messiah transformational leadership and controller discourses are dominant. In Ethiopia, the traditional Authoritarian leadership style and fear-driven negative-knowledge leadership practices are the main contextual influences on organizational leadership practices. Regarding the four leadership discourses, the pattern is like DRC, where the Messiah transformational and controller discourses dominate leadership. In South Africa, the historical impact of apartheid and racial tension greatly influences leadership practice. The influence of racial discrimination and the resultant racial mistrust has resulted in paralyzed leadership practice that negatively affects productivity and is a source of depression. Regarding the four leadership discourses, the controller and messiah discourses are dominant. Western and Garcia’s work of analyzing leadership practices in different countries is very eye-opening, and it’s a big learning point for me. It is apparent that when we’re not open to learning, we can easily misinterpret things. Leadership practice and theory have always been looked at from the Western Hemisphere practices, and so much has been ignored. As we open ourselves to critically analyzing leadership practices from the contextual point of view and from different regions, it is apparent that many assumptions that have informed leadership theories may have to be questioned, and more research is done. My country Kenya had a similar experience with colonization by Britain, but there are other historical events like our war of independence that affects leadership practice in Kenya. Kenya has a more open economy than DRC and has relatively been more peaceful, which has allowed more western influence on political and organizational leadership. As much as messiah and controlled leadership practices are more dominant, the other discourses like therapist and eco-leadership practices are more significantly evident than is the case of DRC, in my considered opinion. I will consider leadership practices in my research to confirm.

One of the common questions in leadership theory and practice as to whether Leaders are born or made is seriously put to test by the results of Western and Garcia’s work. Their work would seem to affirm the statement by Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are made; they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price that all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” [2] Historical events and other contextual factors play a very significant role in shaping leadership and should be significant considerations in defining leadership practices in any country. It is also clear that these considerations are very important in solving organizational problems and shaping leadership to address problems that are informed by prevailing leadership practices. In considering solutions to leadership challenges and developing leaders in any country, Eve Poole’s book, Leadersmithing, comes to mind, and the question as to whether her development of a leadership apprenticeship would be universally applicable in every one of the 20 countries in the study by Western.[3] In my considered opinion, her research findings would be helpful. Still, they would have to be customized to every unique context to develop an apprenticeship that is tailored to the local context, and that addresses the historical, cultural, and other localized factors.

As a Christian Leader, I am curious as to whether Christian practice, as well as Christian leadership practices, are shaped by the same factors of historical events and culture. This will be a big consideration in my research project but a point of inquiry as we meet as a cohort and faculty in Cape Town. By reading this book, my view of leadership has been broadened, and I am better prepared for the “Advance” visit to South Africa. I believe that I am in a better position to inquire into the whole picture by taking a broad array of information during our Advance experience. I believe that without that kind of historical and cultural awareness, we are destined to understand the small pieces but miss the connections and the greater picture and explanation of leadership and other practices in any context.

[1] Western, Simon & Garcia, Eric-Jean. Global Leadership Perspectives: Insights and Analysis. (Sage Publications Ltd, 2018).

[2] Vince Lombardi Jr. What it Takes to be Number One: Vince Lombardi on Leadership. (New York City, NY, USA. McGraw Hill, 2001).

[3] Eve Poole. Leadersmithing: Revealing The Trade Secrets of Leadership. (Bloomsbury, London, England. Bloomsbury Business, 2017).

About the Author


Mary Kamau

Christ follower, Mother of 3 Biological children and one Foster daughter, Wife, Pastor, Executive Director of Institutional Development and Strategy in Missions of Hope International, www.mohiafrica.org.

One response to “Unless you know the road you’ve come from, You cannot know where you’re going.”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    What I always appreciate about your post is that it comes from a completely different angle and perspective than what I have personally experienced as a white male American. Thank you for continuing to broaden my perspective by sharing insight into your own.

Leave a Reply