Leadership and nongovernmental organizations

Material Information

Leadership and nongovernmental organizations NGO leaders as initiators : trees die from the top but also grow from the bottom
Reali, Carlos Eduardo
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
viii, 92 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political science


Subjects / Keywords:
Non-governmental organizations ( lcsh )
Leadership ( lcsh )
Leadership ( fast )
Non-governmental organizations ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 87-92).
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Carlos Eduardo Reali.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
519509847 ( OCLC )
LD1193.L64 2009m R42 ( lcc )

Full Text
Carlos Eduardo Reali
B.A. (Psy), Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2003
B.A. (Soc), Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2003
M. A. (Soc), University of Colorado Denver, 2006
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
In partial fulfillment
Of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science

This Thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Carlos Eduardo Reali
has been approved


Reali, Carlos Eduardo (M.A., Political Science)
Leadership and Nongovernmental Organizations. Trees die from top but also grow
from the bottom: NGO Leaders as Initiators.
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Stephen Thomas
This thesis is a study of the linkages between leadership, leaders as initiators, and the
functions of nongovernmental organizations. In support of these linkages, I employ
Fred Fiedlers Contingency Model, Fred Fiedler and Joe Garcias Cognitive Resource
Theory, Charles Fox and Hugh Millers Discourse Theory of Public Administration,
Ronald Heifetzs Adaptive Leadership Model, and Henri Tajfel and John Turners
Social Identity Theory. These theories argue that there are influential inferences
among these variables. After analyzing different academic sources and presenting
several NGOs and leaders as initiators case studies, very few lessons can be drawn
from this exploration. These leaders are influential in the initiation and maintenance
of NGOs, but this remains a complex research area that lacks homogeneity.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.

I dedicate this work first and foremost to my mother Graciela who has always been
there for me, who has supported me with love, and has given me many of the means
to be where I am at this point in my life. I would also not be writing this dedication
without the help, support, caring, patience, teachings, encouragement, and undying
friendship from my band of brothers (and two sisters) conformed by David, Chris,
Yev, Max, Michele, and Marglie. More than my friends, they are family to me.
Extended thanks to all my friends from Katatonia, Morcheeba, {Creator, In Flames,
Sepultura, Pink Floyd, Hypocrisy, Megadeth, Manu Chao, Cultura Profetica, The
Marley family, Bad Religion, Molotov, Soda Stereo, Gustavo Cerati, King Chango,
Bersuit Vergarabat, Los Amigos Invisibles, Sentimiento Muerto, and Slayer. I also
want to thank all the other people that have inspired me throughout my life, some
have guided me, others have been there for me when needed, many are a constant
source of entertainment, and to those who have shown me that humanity still needs
all of us in order to fight for what we believe and help those in need. On its positive
side, there is nothing more beautiful than human nature. I also want to thank the
United Nations for its influence on me, the local, national, and international NGO
community and all of their dedicated people.

My sincere thanks and gratitude goes to Stephen Thomas. I am also very thankful to
my guiding friend, UN travel partner, guiding voice, and teacher Amin Kazak.
Another extension of my gratitude goes to Glenn Morris for accepting to be a part of
this project. Thanks to all my mentors Dennis Green, Deena Weinstein, Jim Beaver,
Mark Twain, and Amin Kazak. Last but not at all least, my deepest gratitude to the
entire department for their support, friendship, and guidance, especially to Cory
Gruebele for all his help, the great lengthy conversations, the good laughs, and for
being such a great person. To my fellow graduate students and those closest to me
Laura, Darren, Jeremiah, Pancho, Cliff, Matt, Cara, Carolina, Leo, and Yev for their
friendship and good moments. Thank you all for all the wonderful moments and
experiences that I was able to live in these past three years of my life. Once again, I
also want to thank the United Nations for its influence on me, the local, national, and
international NGO community and all of their dedicated people, I will be joining your
community very soon.

1 Flow chart for leadership styles and its influence on followers.22
2 The Communication process of protest: leaderships role in influencing
decision-making processes.......................................45
1. INTRODUCTION................................................1
Leadership, Leaders as Initiators, and Nongovernmental
2. LITERATURE REVIEW...........................................7
3. LEADERSHIP.................................................12
Examples of Leadership..................................14
Leadership Components.................................. 16
Leadership Styles.......................................18
Why Does Leadership Matter and What Does It Accomplish?.24
4. NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS................................25
What are Nongovernmental Organizations?.................25
Why We Need NGOs? Examples and Case Studies.............29
Nongovernmental Organizations and Leadership............36

NGO Leadership and Leaders as Initiators................48
6. CASE STUDIES...............................................52
Physicians For Human Rights.............................52
Carola Eisenberg..................................54
Robert S. Lawrence................................56
Richard S. Goldstone..............................57
Amnesty International...................................59
Peter Benenson....................................59
Human Rights Watch......................................64
Robert Bernstein..................................65
Jeri Laber........................................67
Natan Sharansky...................................68
Theoretical Framework...................................71
Limitations and Future Concerns.........................85

1 Flow chart for leadership styles and its influence on followers.....22
2 The Communication process of protest: leaderships role in influencing
decision-making processes..........................................45

Leadership. Leaders as Initiators, and Nongovernmental Organizations
The research question that I propose states that effective leadership is
necessary in order to initiate NGOs and to ensure that these organizations effectively
and positively achieve their goals. Many of the leadership case studies presented in
this work deal with the notion of NGO leaders as initiators. I hypothesize that these
initiating leaders share a common bond regarding the personal experiences that
shaped their decisions to start a particular NGO in order to combat causes very
personal to them, and to advance social change in many positive ways. I am also
hypothesizing that these same NGO leaders and initiators are generally educated,
dedicated, passionate, versatile, and visionary when fighting for their beliefs and for
those who need help around the world. Other important initiator traits that I also
consider pertinent to this work relate to leaders being ethical, noble, and trustworthy
Effective leadership helps NGOs achieve their goals in different and more
effective ways, it helps them grow and help more people, it helps them set different
and sometimes more modem goals, and it helps them reach more people and create
better global/communal conscience about the different issues affecting our planet. It

also helps raise awareness of the positive issues taking place and how we can
continue to be part of the solution and not the problem.
My research examines the question of how effective leadership is necessary
both to initiate and maintain NGOs. Through leadership and good leaders these
organizations can immensely benefit and make an actual or even more meaningful
impact in our global community, thus benefiting more people in the end. The people
who need our help sometimes get this needed assistance through these types of
nongovernmental organizations and at many different levels (locally, nationally, and
globally). In other words, this research assumes an equation that no leadership equals
no organization. No NGO, local, national, and especially international, can get going,
survive, or change consciences or public policy without an engaging leader as
initiator. Leaders can be influential initiators, as well as being effective managers for
the organizations they work for and for the causes they fight for. Visionary,
democratic, charismatic, participative, and liberal leaders can have a great influence
on our society through the work they do, the people they can influence and/or
motivate, the organizations they lead.
The analysis of leadership seems to be partitioned among the proponents who
believe that individual managerial leadership is a natural trait, the ones who believe
that leadership can be learned, and the ones who believe that a great leader combines
both aspects; I subscribe to the latter premise. I believe that there are many leadership
examples throughout history, from historic leaders to recent leader figures to current

and leading leaders. This needs to be done, for the purposes of this research, by
delineating the dependency of NGOs and the leadership models characteristics
included in initiating, maintaining, and successfully managing an organization of such
kind, but more specifically, their initiating leaders.
A very important component of any government and any society is the
existence of NGOs and the services they provide. As Grover Starling states, public-
serving organizations exist mainly to serve the public at large rather than the
organizations membership. When you see the term NGO, it usually refers to this type
of non-profit. Public-serving organizations fulfill their function in a variety of ways -
providing health and education services, sponsoring cultural or religious activities,
advocating for certain causes, aiding the poor, and financing other nonprofits, to
name a few (Starling, 2005, p. 11). Grassroots movements, nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs), and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are responsible
for influencing and/or creating, at a national or international level, many public
policies along with giving a voice to those who need one. On the other hand, there are
a minority of NGOs created by interest groups as fronts for their own causes. These
are not the NGOs I am focusing on or including within this work.
Whether the legitimate NGOs are fighting for human rights, womens rights,
childrens rights, immigrants, literacy, drug and crime prevention, or even more
locally in order to positively influence their very own communities, many leaders
have emerged from the ranks of these organizations. These organizations and their

movements are always in need of competent and visionary leaders that can further
their goals to an earlier achievement or to the creation of social conscience regarding
some of the issues they fight against. These are some of the reasons why I would like
to focus on the research issue of leadership and nongovernmental organizations, and
on different leadership traits and/or characteristics that have made some leaders
effective initiators.
Questions regarding this issue are abundant. What types of leaders are needed
for these specific organizations? Why do they need good leadership? How do these
NGOs deal with a constant struggle for resources and how does it affect their
purpose? Which types of management, leadership, and administration models can
best benefit NGOs in envisioning, assessing, implementing, and accomplishing
solutions to the issues they are fighting for or against? Most importantly, what
characteristics define these NGO leaders as initiators?
When discussing the role of leadership in starting these NGOs, the literature
reveals that NGOs usually fail to possess a big influence in politics and public
policies, due to their lack of resources available. These are non-profit organizations
that function, most of the time, on donations and on the work of many volunteers.
Recently, the creation of the internet has helped these NGOs to spread the word
regarding the issues they bring to the public and to gain support throughout different
parts of the world through something as simple and economically viable as a web
page or an email newsletter. However, paid positions are few, and even the biggest

international NGOs still struggle to develop a sufficient budget to allow them to do
much more than what they already may be doing. This same lack of resources is also
correlated to the type of leadership available for these organizations. What level of
leadership can NGOs buy and for how much? I have personally met many NGO
presidents and most of them are ideologically and morally committed to their work
with an understanding that the reward they are receiving for their work is not
necessarily monetary; instead the reward is the personal satisfaction that they are
making a difference and helping many people in the process.
Many of these points will serve as examples and reminders of why we need to
support these organizations and why we need to develop better leaders who can have
a more positive impact in our society. It is becoming more difficult to educate and/or
to motivate more people regarding the many issues that NGOs deal with. More and
more, in my opinion, we see a bigger social detachment, as well as a general apathy
towards issues that do not affect many others personally. This also closely ties in with
the effects these social realities of detachment and conformism will have on what
leadership will be like in the 21st century in the United States and many other
countries around the world. In the same vein, when thinking more about the
distinction between management and leadership we have to realistically assess how
this distinction affects NGOs today.
In order to fulfill these research goals I will review different academic sources
in order to present relevant information on leadership, leadership components,

leadership styles, the importance of leadership and what it accomplishes. This will
also be done along with an exploration into NGOs, our social need for these
organizations, what their functions are, and most importantly, the research focus on
NGO leadership and leaders as initiators. Several case studies will be presented and
analyzed in relation to three major NGOs and seven different leaders as initiators.
Conclusions will be drawn from this exploration and analysis, as well as a discussion
on limitations and future concerns regarding these research premises.

Ian Smillie and John Hailey attest that NGOs grow in three phases: founding,
youthful, and adult. In most cases it was the vision of one individual addressing a
particular problem which started the organization. At the beginning, with only a few
people working together, and all focused on concrete ways of assisting people,
management was not an issue, but as the organizations grew the ad hoc ways of
working and communication no longer sufficed (Smillie & Hailey, 2001). On the
other hand, we also observe that NGOs, as part of an active civil society, are
inherently part of a wider political process. As a result their work is susceptible to
politically inspired restrictions, and NGO leaders are commonly perceived as a
political threat that needs to be subverted or removed (Hailey & James, 2004).
Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee devote attention to
what they call The Leadership Repertoire, and more specifically they discuss the
relationship between resonance and dissonance and the appropriateness of one
leadership style over another. They state that resonance stems not just from leaders
good moods or ability to say the right thing, but also from whole sets of coordinated
activities that comprise particular leadership styles. Four of these styles visionary,
coaching, affiliative, and democratic create the kind of resonance that boosts

performance, while two others pacesetting and commanding although useful in
some very specific situations, should be applied with caution (Goleman, 2002,
p.53). I fully agree with the authors and their premise, and this applies to NGO
leaders very well regarding the positive and/or negative effects that their leadership
styles can create within the organization. Leaders need to be careful and correctly
apply these different styles to the different situations or issues that they deal with,
even at the initiation point of any NGO. Not only do these NGO leaders need vision,
dedication, education, management capabilities, and ethics, but they also need to
inspire people the right way and they need to influence those around them
appropriately, thus the inability to apply these different styles can make or break any
organization and its goals. These different leadership styles are also very necessary
when dealing with the lack of organizational resources and the challenge that this
represents. Resonance is a priceless factor that these NGO leaders cannot do without
and it also represents an invaluable collaborative consensus-building tool.
Colman McCarthy describes another example of how leaders can be shaped
and/or be stimulated. McCarthy documents different interactions with students along
with his teaching curriculum and nonviolence ideologies and solutions. He comes
across as a hands-on motivator who relates to all the different students he encounters
and how motivated he is to teach all of them the other side of the peace issue apart
from their notions of out there or the real world. This is a great example of how
people can be taught these different ideologies and behaviors. It is also a

complementary example to the notion that leaders can be shaped through good and
influential people as well. This is the same way that great leaders and initiators
working for NGOs may (and should) also change many minds and affect public
policy throughout the world. Overall, this is a great testament to the idea that
leadership can be effectively taught, or at the very least, stimulated the right way.
Like McCarthy says, turning an idea into a fact is where dreamers and doers
separate (McCarthy, 2002, p.xix).
Furthermore, there is increasing recognition of the crucial role of leadership in
meeting these challenges. There is also a new awareness of the important role of
leadership in the development of the NGO community and the powerful influence of
individual leaders in shaping the destiny of local NGOs (Fowler, 1997; Hailey and
James, 2002; Kelleher and McLaren, 1996; Smillie and Hailey, 2001). Despite this
awareness, there is only a small body of research into the role of NGO leaders and
dynamics of leadership in NGOs (Hailey & James, 2004). This also demonstrates the
lack of research concerning the central questions of leadership, leadership traits, and
leadership as initiators when discussing many of these NGOs. As a consequence,
there is a new awareness of the need to better understand the influences on, and the
characteristics of, NGO leaders (Hailey & James, 2004).
Unfortunately, the lack of research into NGO leadership means that there is
little understanding of the different roles and responsibilities of such NGO leaders, or
analysis of the skills and competencies needed (Hailey & James, 2004). We can

easily identify the large body of literature on broader macrodevelopment issues (the
socioeconomic context of development, the political and policy context, civil society,
human rights, sustainability, and the role of aid). There is also another body of
research focused on specific micro issues (project activities, fieldwork, community
participative processes, specialist sectoral interests, etc.) (Hailey & James, 2004).
But there is surprisingly little research into the meso issues of how the people and
organizations that implement different leadership styles and/or traits are managed,
motivated, or lead (Hailey & James, 2004). Also, how are these NGO leaders as
initiators, who they are, what characteristics are present for these figures, and how
successful they can be with their visions.
To date, leadership research has focused predominately on the role and
character of leaders in the for-profit sector and not the nonprofit or public sector
(Adair, 2002; Bennis and Nanus, 2004; Kotter, 1996). Most of (leadership research)
is based on studies in the developed industrialized countries of the North, with a
particular focus on the individualistic, low power distance cultures of North American
or Europe (Hailey & James, 2004). Furthermore, while there is a small, but
growing body of research into leadership in the nonprofit sector, most of it is based
on the experience of US nonprofits and is concerned with the work of Boards rather
than individual leaders (Hailey & James, 2004).
In a sector that believes itself to be more value driven, participatory, and less
managerialist than the for-profit business sector, there is an unwillingness to concede

the important influence of any one individual leader (Hailey & James, 2004). It has
also been hypothesized that because nonprofits give greater credence to ideas of
equality and participatory democracy they only encourage research that focuses on
these values, and actively discourage research that emphasizes the role of specific
individuals (Allison, 2002), (Hailey & James, 2004).
Despite these concerns there are now a small number of studies that are
beginning to analyze the role and performance of NGO leaders, and develop a better
understanding of the dimensions of NGO leadership and the skills and competencies
needed. My research highlights a number of different dimensions of NGO leadership
(Hailey & James, 2004). My study will also try to add to such body of research by
looking into the literature and also exploring different traits that I consider
correlational among these NGO leaders as initiators.

We usually hear many leadership discussions start the same way; some
individuals attest to the notion of leaders being bom, while others follow the notion
that leaders are made. There are, however, those who combine these two notions and
rationalize that leaders may very well be bom with innate leadership qualities, and do
not disagree with the relevant notion that many leadership traits can also be
developed through experience and other social factors. All in all, many attitudes and
aptitudes as well as many behaviors, can be a learned component with a verifiable
and conducive effect towards leadership, management, and conflict resolution.
There are also those that view the discussion of leaders and leadership through
the perspective of public administration. This is another important point when
discussing the basic principles of leadership, especially in relation to its influence on
managing nongovernmental organizations. It is also worth noting that there can easily
be group and/or organizational leaders and there can also be group administrators,
especially when discussing the function-generating organized structures like the
NGOs that I will be including in this study.

Leadership can be a very important aspect within any type of administration.
Lesley Abdela states that the common denominators of leadership are status and
influence. Democratic leaders are expected to respond to the influence of their
followers, as well as to influence their followers (Abdela, 2000). I adhere to this idea
in the sense that the essence of leadership are its followers, hence it is a crucial
component of NGOs development, efficacy, and functionality since these groups can
greatly benefit from good leadership and the influence it exercises on its followers,
including the public in general. This can also be seen as how people decide to follow
someones position. This, in turn, helps the direction of the organization regarding its
goals of bringing its interests and its social mission to public awareness, discussion,
and action. People follow leaders on the psychological basis that those leaders that
can offer the means for the satisfaction of our wants and/or needs will get our
attention. Leadership and motivation are also closely interrelated. If we understand
the motivation we will better appreciate what people want and the reasoning for their
actions. In a way, it can be argued that in some instances this point also serves as an
explanation as to why in certain instances self-interest can outweigh altruism as well.
At the same time, as John Sarisky points out clear and decisive leadership is
especially important in times of crisis and chaos. Effective leaders can also provide
critical guidance during emergencies. Leaders have confronted and resolved serious
issues by accepting responsibility, establishing direction, motivating and inspiring
people, and implementing needed action; individually and through the organizations

they are a part of (Sarisky, 2006). Furthermore, leaders continue to face the
challenges of public indifference, lack of resources, increasing demand for services,
an ill-prepared workforce, and a fragmented society (Sarisky, 2006).
In relation to this last point Hugo Slim contributes his similar perspective
regarding the need for leadership when the critical moment in any crisiswhether it
arrives slowly or suddenlyis the wake-up call, when sufficient information and
political concern are generated to mobilize the international community. This is the
do something moment: a moment of relative disarray when the international
community musters its forces, gathers its facts and decides on its strategy, while all
the time ensuring that it is seen to be doing so by its respective publics (Slim, 2004).
Examples of Leadership
Examples of leadership abound, but I believe that for this short piece I would
propose my focus of leadership to be tendencies as part of leadership examples.
Leadership styles are interchangeable and a good leader knows when and how to
adapt to different situations. Undeniably, leadership today also aims at the fast and
modem reward notion of achieving goals as quickly and effectively as possible. There
can also be a factor of fear versus respect, and the issue of loyalty also plays a role.
Historically speaking we have seen examples of conquering leaders/leadership
where people looked up to an omnipotent figure or the usual overpowering image that
offered security in exchange for their loyalty. Then we have experienced examples of

commercial leadership/leaders, especially if we consider the time of the industrial era,
where security had changed as a factor and the quality of life became more
meaningful as a goal. This also gave way to organizational leadership since these
same people wanted a better quality of life, but also looked for places to belong. This
is why good organizational leaders where able to fulfill their goals by creating new
communal, economic, and political systems in order to reach these goals.
As societies evolved, innovation increased, specialization increased, and new
leadership needs were bom. If we apply this notion to modem society, our needs also
change very rapidly and leaders are needed to deal with obsolete knowledge and/or
goals that may impede the progress of certain organizations like NGOs. This same
example creates a need for informational leadership, which is still very active and
very effective nowadays, even though different research will testify to the measuring
of this effectiveness variable on all sides of the spectrum. Modem organizations
rarely survive without leaders that understand, effectively manage, and appropriately
use information. A good modem leader is able to process, interpret, and use this
information in modem and creative ways.
This brings me to the last and most necessary example of how this global
community, regardless of social, legal, political, economic, or scientific level, needs
the new age leaders/leadership model. Since this is all a futuristic assessment I can
venture to project that leadership is evolving, and in my opinion, needs to evolve to
where leaders are aware and know how to use new available technology, recognize

the need for critical thinking in order to effectively analyze and synthesize the
information being received and handled by them. They also cannot forget that their
dedication needs to focused on their organizations goal, and ultimately on the
individual that can be helped through this leaders actions and leadership skills. It will
be important to re-delineate that line that professes that leaders help, influence, and
lead people, not necessarily things, numbers, or projects. Plus, if effective leaders
want to expand their leadership and conflict resolution abilities, they will need to
optimize their capacity to project their short and long term goals in order to stay
effective. This can be extremely beneficial to many NGOs that are constantly fighting
an uphill battle against lawmakers, interest groups, lobbyists, and different
Leadership Components
The leadership components that I am presenting, researching, and using
throughout this work pertain to different characteristics of leadership. In my point of
view, leaders need to be ethical, noble, and trustworthy people. Can there be other
effective leaders without these traits? Yes, of course, but in relation to NGOs and the
type of work they do and how many resources they count on for their specific
purposes, NGO leaders need these traits. Leaders must project a sense of knowledge,
competence, plus have a sense of direction regarding the organization and its goals.
Leaders past and/or personal experiences in relation to the cause(s) they fight for is

another unique correlational trait for most of these leaders. Many of them are victims
of some government or social activity and this motivates them to initiate campaigns,
movements, and NGOs in order to eradicate the mistreatment they experienced.
Another essential component is communication skills. This specific
component helps establish trust, helps convey the organizations strategies and goals,
helps people understand how they are contributing to reach these goals, and helps
them relay information as needed.
Some key points to good leadership can also come from knowing your own
weaknesses and strengths. Good and effective leaders have a constant need to better
themselves, for example through the technological innovation knowledge that I
previously discussed, or by adjusting their goals to new developments within the
issues they fight for. Good leadership includes being responsible for their actions as
leaders and as administrators of groups and/or organizations. I may even argue that
good leaders need not look for blame assignment, but instead for solutions and future
Another popular notion states that we should lead by example, which is also
a very applicable idea for this entire leadership discussion. Being an example to
others can greatly benefit the leader and the organization. In addition, many
components can also be found in my previous section where I discussed leadership
tendencies, which can easily be part of the necessary component as well.

Overall, leaders also need to be educated, dedicated, passionate, versatile, and
visionary when fighting for their beliefs and for those who need help around the
world. Other important initiator traits can be ethics, nobility, and trustworthiness.
Leadership Styles
Within the discussion of leadership, and in relation to this work, we find
different leadership styles that can influence the correlation between leadership and
NGOs effectiveness. As I argue, one the most important leadership traits and/or style
is that of ethical leadership. A conscious and ethical leader is one who radiates
outward from the individual and seeks to take into account the group consciousness
of all people involved in a project (Rubenstein, 2008, p. 154). More specifically, an
ethical leader is a leader that is guided by and accepts ethical constraints and does
not accept the theory that the goal of leadership is to accomplish a result regardless of
the means used to achieve it (Rubenstein, 2008, p. 155). This is why we might see
NGOs and their leaders as having a harder time to accomplish their goals of social
change. Unlike governments, greedy individuals, or irrational people who will stop at
nothing in order to accomplish their goals or push their agendas, many leaders in
NGOs have an ethical code of doings things the right way. Change through the
proper and ethical means can be a very slow process, thanks to many of those in
power that make sure this factor remains unchanged.

We also find the notion of authentic leadership which was originally
advocated by Kevin Cashman who defined it as the leadership that radiates from the
core of the person (Rubenstein, 2008, p. 159). Cashman also defined five major key
points in relation to authentic leadership, being: (1) knowing oneself authentically;
(2) listening authentically; (3) expressing ones self authentically; (4) appreciating
authentically; and (5) serving authentically; more importantly, in order to be an
authentic leader, a person must serve first and lead second (Rubenstein, 2008,
The studied and common label of a charismatic leader is one that many have
heard of, but what does it entail? As Rubenstein points out this brand of leadership,
discussed by Max Weber and many others, is when charismatic leaders inspire people
to follow them. Charismatic leaders impress their own visions and goals upon their
followers and make their followers see things they way they do (Rubenstein, 2008,
p.160). Rubenstein also argues that these types of leaders can radiate self-confidence,
lead fearlessly, and effectively communicate their views and/or stances without
embarrassment or reservation (Rubenstein, 2008, p.160.) Granted, followers also need
a two-way line of feedback communication, the actual traits mentioned by Rubenstein
prove to be essential in the end. Furthermore as Kerry Webb argues, attributed
charisma may be descriptive of the concept of leadership courage, which is a
combination of confidence, a willingness to take risks, and the energy and conviction
to try something new. Intellectual simulation may be compared to the concept of

empowerment, which is the decision to engage persons in developing mental pictures
of new concepts and encouraging workers to discover the necessary solutions that
transform visions into realities. The factor of individual consideration identifies the
need that persons have for personal recognition and the need to affirm the unique
strengths and abilities of each person in an organization (Webb, 2007). To Webb it
appears evident that people respond with renewed energy and motivation when they
are working for leaders who are [considered as] caring about others as unique
individuals (Webb, 2007).
Another realistic common notion is that an uninformed leader is not an
effective one. This notion can easily prove to be true in many different cases and in
relation to many different organizations and/or causes. Rubenstein states that
informed leadership involves the creation and support of strong systems to let the
leader know what others are thinking and what others know on any particular subject
or issue the leader needs to address. The leader who seeks to be an informed leader
not only creates and pays significant attention to feedback mechanisms, but also
creates a culture where every person in the organization feels he or she can speak the
truth to power without fear, without sanction, and without any concern that his/her
opinion, fact, or feedback contribution will be ignored (Rubenstein, 2008, p. 165).
Another influential leadership trait that can have an immense influence on an
organization and its goals is an organizational quality. If we look into this claim we
can find another label or brand of leadership aptly called organizational leadership.

This type of leadership was popularized by Theodore White and it stresses
allegiance to an organization. It seeks to capitalize on peoples desire to be a part of
something larger than themselves and urges people to identify themselves as a part of
the organization (Rubenstein, 2008, p.167). This in turn goes along with dedication
levels from leaders and followers to a specific cause or issue. The feeling of being
part of something bigger than oneself is a great motivator and can have many positive
and influential results in our global community.
One of the most important, very influential, and defining trait for these great
leaders model is a revolutionary mentality, vision, spirit, and conviction. When
presenting the notion of revolutionary leadership this brand of leadership is based on
the leaders and followers perception that significant change is needed in a given
community. Revolutionary leaders are willing to take tremendous risks in order to
change present conditions and alter the power relationships that currently exist
(Rubenstein, 2008, p.179).
In this next table we can see the flow of influence that a leader with all the
characteristics or brands just presented can have on its followers in order to create
interactive feedback channels, sponsor independent thinking, sponsor interaction
between followers, promote leaders creating more leadership, and encourage more
people to influence others, whether fighting for a cause, or for those people in need.

Table 1
Flow chart for leadership styles and its influence on followers:
This last notion also gives me the chance to expand the discussion regarding
the ideas behind leadership styles and NGOs. Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and
Annie McKee devote close research attention to what they call The Leadership
Repertoire, and more specifically they discuss the notions of the relationship
between the resonance and dissonance factors and when is it appropriate to use one
leadership style or another. They state that resonance stems not just from leaders
good moods or ability to say the right thing, but also from whole sets of coordinated
activities that comprise particular leadership styles. Four of these styles visionary,
coaching, affiliative, and democratic create the kind of resonance that boosts
performance, while two others pacesetting and commanding although useful in

some very specific situations, should be applied with caution (Goleman, 2002,
The authors theories apply to NGO leaders very well regarding the positive
and/or negative effects that their leadership styles can create within the organization.
Leaders must be careful and correctly apply these different styles to the different
situations or issues. Not only do these NGO leaders need vision, management
capabilities, and ethics, but they also need to inspire people the right way and they
need to influence those around them appropriately in order to achieve the NGO
purposes. Thus, the inability to apply these different styles can make or break any
organization and their goals. These different leadership styles are also very necessary
when dealing with the issue of lack of resources for these organizations and the
challenge this represents. Resonance is a priceless factor that these NGO leaders
cannot do without (Goleman, 2002, p.53).
These are not all of the existing leadership traits, types, or brands, but instead
the most useful ones to explain effective leadership in NGOs. At the same time, the
variable of feedback and leadership will always be an essential component within this
discussion. Ethics, beliefs, dedication, revolutionary thinking, past experiences,
actions, being informed, being organized, and having/transmitting a charismatic sense
of authenticity will enable many natural or made leaders to effectively affect their
followers, help those in need, and change the world in different ways.

Why Does Leadership Matter and What Does It Accomplish?
First, it is my view that leadership matters and it can be an extremely
important determining factor as to the effectiveness of achieving a goal, managing an
organization, and being part of the change to which such group aspires.
As far as specific points of why leadership matters, I can start by pointing out
that an effective leader is an important component when guiding and/or directing an
NGO. While an organization can have adequate planning and good control of
organizational procedures, NGOs may very well still not survive without a good
leader, or effective leadership. This also means that this leadership notion can be
labeled as a necessary component for these NGOs and many other organizations in
order to survive and to thrive.
As Sara Ahmed states, translating the organizational commitment to different
issues into practice requires good leadership, which can be vested in, but not limited
to one individual, but more broadly includes the head of the organization, as well as
those involved in other positions of power who are able to influence the direction,
style, and values of an organization (Ahmed, 2002).

What Are Nongovernmental Organizations?
It is fundamental to this research work to delineate and have a better and more
in-depth knowledge of what these NGOs are and how they affect society. Their roles
are many and the reasons why we need them are integral parts of societal evolution
and its general wellbeing.
NGOs are private associations that engage in political activity (Donnelly,
2007, p. 10). Such groups act as advocates for victims of different issues with the end
goal of publicizing violations, as well as lobbying in order to affect the practices of
states and international organizations (Donnelly, 2007, p.10). NGOs are sometimes
also labeled private voluntary organizations or PVOs in different parts of the world
when fighting for different issues or offering specific help.
As Uschi Bay states that NGOs can also be described as non-profit or non-
profit-distributing organizations, self governing usually through some kind of
representative community management group, relying to some extent on volunteers
and having an advocacy function representing marginal groups in society (Bay,
2008). Bay also writes that NGOs are generally understood to play a critical political
role because when they speak directly to public need and lead collectivities to devise

effective solutions to public problems and because they can overcome cynicism and
distrust that tends to stifle civil society and political engagement (Bay, 2008). At the
same time, the goals and the methods that many NGOs apply to reach and complete
their social work have sometimes created animosity from various neo-liberal
governments, public choice theorists, and right-wing think tanks all of whom openly
criticize NGOs worldwide for not being democratic. Furthermore, NGOs are
generally under intense scrutiny and criticism by other governments and the special
interest groups that may oppose the goals of some of these NGOs because of the role
they play as policy advocates for the poor and marginalized in many different
societies (Bay, 2008).
Moreover, NGOs have an invaluable and essential role in national,
multinational, and international social development, as well as policy formulation,
services provision, and advocacy. Other international NGOs have no role or very
minimal roles at the national level as well. As Nancy Claiborne (2004) points out
NGOs vary widely in their activities, countries in which they operate, size, and
number and number and type of workers they employ. International NGOs operate in
more than one country (for example, Amnesty International and the Oxfam
Committee of Famine). In contrast and for the purpose of differentiating the two types
of NGOs, national NGOs operate within a single country or geographic area (i.e.
Epilepsy Foundation in the United States). Furthermore, distinctions among NGOs
can also be made with respect to missions (Claiborne, 2004). She continues by

explaining that some charitable NGOs are created with the purpose of providing relief
efforts to refugees or people of minimal resources by distributing food, clothing, and
medicine (i.e., Doctors without Borders, or the American Refugee Committee).
Another goal and social service that NGOs sometimes provide is housing and
schooling to those in need, e.g. Habitat for Humanity International and Save the
Children (Claiborne, 2004). NGOs dedicated to community development and policy
analysis, which in turn serve to strengthen the capacity of local organizations and
communities by collaboration and empowerment for social and economic
development (for example, Amigos de las Americas and Volunteers in Technical
Assistance). Environmental NGOs work to create sustainable social and economic
development by using environmental practices and policies (for example, Rainforest
Action Network, [Conservation International], Heifer Project International,
Greenpeace) (Claiborne, 2004). Within a more local spectrum, are services-oriented
NGOs that deal with providing health, family planning, and educational programs for
people who can benefit from them and help others through this knowledge and
practices. Participatory NGOs use community organization models in order to
provide valuable assistance to local people in order for communities to evaluate and
assess their own needs and to help with the planning and implementation on how to
satisfy these needs (Claiborne, 2004). Finally, we also have the empowerment-
focused NGOs who raise the political, social, and economic consciousness of people
who are poor, strengthening their power to control their lives. Here, the NGO acts as

a facilitator for autonomous, self-managing groups, using community-based methods
that are respectful of diversity within communities (Claiborne, 2004). If we agree
with Philip Howards notion that our hatred of government is not caused mainly by
governments goals, whatever their wisdom, but by governments techniques
(Howard, 1994, p. 173), then we need to make sure that the NGOs techniques are
understood in the clear context that Claiborne presents. A straightforward see a need,
fill a need approach that differentiate the interests between governments and NGOs
highlights the importance of the latter. NGOs can very well also represent a diversity
of political access, financial resources, and international connections (Hall & Taplin,
One last notion that very much applies to these modem times in relation to
NGOs is the actual power that these organizations have found through modem
electronic tools of communication and dissemination. The worldwide media are
highly interconnected nowadays and NGOs are harnessing this power to their
advantage in order to advance their causes, better fight their fights, and inform more
people at the same time. As Saskia Sassen points out, there is little doubt that the
gathering, storage, and dissemination of information are crucial functions for these
kind of organizations (Sassen, 2007, p.204). Human rights, large development, and
environmental organizations are at this point the leaders in the effort to build online
databases and archives (see for example the Web sites of Human Rights Internet,
Greenpeace, and Oxfam International) (Sassen, 2007, p.205). There are many

examples that illustrate the fact that new possibilities and potentials for action, like
the vastly expanded repertory of actions that can be taken when electronic activism,
are also an option (Sassen, 2007, p.206).
Why We Need NGOs: Examples and Case Studies
Going beyond the explanation just presented of what NGOs are and of their
many specific objectives, many other working examples can be cited in order to
cement the discussion regarding the need for these NGOs to exist. Furthermore, these
examples also directly correlate with the notion that in order to achieve these goals
we also need good leadership at the helm of these organizations. One specific
example comes from Jack Donnelly who speaks of the importance of NGOs and the
fight for human rights. He particularly uses the example of NGOs when Argentina
and Chile were militarized and shows how much they actually helped many people in
those countries during those harsh and violent times. Through the actions of these
NGOs in those two countries these organizations proved that in addition to aiding
victims and their families, human rights NGOs were an important source of
information and that for this specific example of these organizations helping with the
list of disappeared people, this provided much of the factual basis for initial UN and
OAS action later on (Donnelly, 2007, p.66).
There are many different and socially significant functions of many different
NGOs. For example, Cathryn Ollif states that NGOs have increasingly used

development education and advocacy as the most appropriate way of attempting to
change the perceptions, values, and institutions that cause and perpetuate poverty
(Ollif, 2001). Moreover, as Felice Gaer points out Many governments, especially
those criticized by nongovernmental organizations, persistently labor to limit the
formal access and participation of nongovernmental human rights organizations and
to challenge the legitimacy of their findings (Gaer, 1995). She continues by pointing
out that this seeming contradiction of maintaining both dependency and distance
reflects certain fundamental characteristics associated with human rights NGOs
themselves and the goals that they seek to advance through the United Nations and
other international bodies. Yet human rights NGOs are the engine for virtually every
advance made by the United Nations in the field of human rights since its founding
(Gaer, 1995).
Another example comes from Pamela Aall when she points out that the
peacemaking roles for non-official actors also opened up, bringing many more
individuals and organizations into the process and allowing private people and groups
to intervene as third parties to bring peace to a troubled society, as the community of
San Egidio did in Mozambique and attempted in Algeria and Kosovo. In fact, after
many years of being ignored by powerful states and impenetrable international
organizations, NGOs were now being hailed as magicians of sorts, capable of
bringing peace and reconciliation at the grassroots level to societies split by civil war
and ethnic and religious strife (Aall, 2002).

Other examples are the 1997 treaty banning land mines, the UN moratorium
on driftnet fishing in 1992, the United States International Dolphin Conservation Act
of 1994, and the extremely important role of NGOs in the creation of an International
Criminal Court (Claiborne, 2004). These are just a varied few examples of how
NGOs have been crucial in setting and realizing policy agendas during peace efforts;
addressing environmental concerns and human rights issues; and realizing such
development issues as pressures for greater openness and accountability in world
development (Claiborne, 2004). This also helps explain why many different
communities have grown to rely on NGOs because of their perceived neutrality and
their experience and also because of frequent reductions in government resources
resulting from public sector downsizing (Claiborne, 2004).
More specifically we can refer to the case of the landmines ban. This is
considered by many as the most dramatic instance of civil society organizations
successfully promoting a new agreement, and even participating in its negotiation and
drafting. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines was officially launched in
1992 and in a short period of time six NGOs in the United States, France, the United
Kingdom, and Germany evolved into a coalition of over one thousand NGOs in sixty
countries. It succeeded when 130 countries signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997
(Sassen, 2007, p.207). The landmines ban, which was begun, literally, by two people
with a fax machine and ended up helping to produce an international treaty and a
Nobel peace prize, over the opposition of the most powerful bureaucracy in the

worlds most powerful state, the U.S. Pentagon. Nongovernmental groups of legal
experts assisted in the drafting of the International Criminal Court statute, and the
pioneering work of Transparency International, which was started by a former World
Bank official with his personal retirement savings, paved the way for the
anticorruption convention recently adopted by the United Nations (Ignatieff, 2005,
Another example of how influential NGOs can be in the global arena is
Amnesty International. Amnesty International, which was founded in 1961, received
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, and has an international membership of more than a
million people (Donnelly, 2007, p. 10). Donnelly also explains that this NGOs best
known activity is writing letters on behalf of certain people who are incarcerated
because of political, ideological, or activism (Donnelly, 2007, p.10). In addition to
this in its first thirty years, it investigated and publicized the cases of more than
42,000 prisoners. Amnesty International also publishes an annual report, special
reports on individual countries, and occasional reports on torture and other general
issues of concern. Its representatives testify before national legislatures and
intergovernmental organizations and publicize human rights issues through public
statements and appearances in the media (Donnelly, 2007, p.10).
Furthermore, the case of NGOs in the Middle East is a very unique one, and a
much needed aspect of the politics and social life of this region. In the Middle East
as well, NGO initiatives have tried to compensate for the absence of a functional

regional regime (Donnelly, 2007, p.102). For example, the Arab Organization for
Human Rights was founded in 1983 and publishes annual reports regarding the
human rights conditions in different countries throughout the Middle East (Donnelly,
2007, p. 102). Donnelly also points out that in 1989, through a joint initiative of the
Arab Lawyers Union, the Arab Organization for the Human Rights, and the Tunisian
League for Human Rights, with the support of the UN Center for Human Rights, an
Arab Institute for Human Rights was established in Tunis to provide information on
human rights conditions and training for both government and nongovernmental
personnel (Donnelly, 2007, p. 102). More importantly for this specific case, are the
efforts from Muslim individuals and NGOs to formulate Islamic human rights
norms (Donnelly, 2007, p. 102).
Another very important example comes all the way from the beginnings of
NGOs in the United States in relation to the issue of slavery, to the end of apartheid in
South Africa. The first NGOs can be traced to those that came from anti-
establishment or dissenting congregations like the Baptists, Methodists,
Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and especially the Quakers, who organized the first
nongovernmental anti-slavery organizations in the form of the Society for the Relief
of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage and then the Society for the Abolition
of the Slave Trade. These same people through these groups presented their attacks
against slavery as an expression of their religious convictions and their vision of the
unity of all mankind (Lauren, 2003, p.33).

The influence of these first NGOs, can be seen clearly especially in the case of
South Africa. Activity on South Africa by U.S. NGOs goes back to at least 1912,
when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was involved
in the initial formation of South Africas African National Congress. The American
Committee on Africa was formed in 1953 in response to the pass-law demonstrations.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, groups like TransAfrica focused their efforts on
apartheid (Donnelly, 2007, p. 131).
As briefly mentioned before, all these services, responsibilities, social
changes, associations, concerns, goals, examples, cases, and social contributions
cannot be possible without proper management, but more importantly, proper
leadership. Leadership is a key component to the advancement of these organizations.
In addition, the lack of resources that NGOs have to deal with, in turn makes it even
more crucial to adopt optimal leadership models that will assure a greater impact
from these leaders in their organizations and in our society.
Nongovernmental organizations are extremely necessary, especially in these
modem times. The role of these organizations has shifted to the point of giving these
organizations special relevance since they have helped shape public opinion regarding
issues that affect us all, or specific communities throughout the world. They have
focused on the issues of undervelopment and overdevelopment and the many social,
political, economic, legal, and cultural consequences resulting from different human
practices. These NGOs have offered a voice to those who have not had a loud enough

one. They have protected people in many ways and helped them in many others. They
have shaped public policy, upheld human rights standards, created social conscience
and even have become influential media sources, as well as outlets.
NGOs have organized and reorganized the way we identify global problems,
social issues, environmental concerns, and illegal practices of many different types, as
well as bringing plausible solutions to many different issues and helping many of
those in need. These organizations have evolved into global organizations, while
maintaining the possibility of being organized locally where needed and still being
effective in accomplishing their goals. They have also been a key component in the
innovation and completion of development programs throughout the world.
Some of these organizations have also effectively bridged many political or
governmental voids to the point that many share the support and collaboration with
these governmental entities. They have developed new communication channels
across many different sectors of many different societies.
As a relevant last point, Lin Zhenling believes that traditionally, sovereign
states have been the sole legitimate actors in the field of international relations. States
alone have negotiated multilateral agreements, accepted binding international
commitments and enforced international obligations. However, in an increasingly
globalized society, the traditional concept of international law as the law of nations
no longer reflects the realities of international society. Modem international society
includes a range of non-state actors that more and more demand a voice in

international organizations and processes. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
are among the most dynamic and influential groups of non-state actors in the
international sphere (Zhenling, 2004).
Nongovernmental Organizations and Leadership
Once again, effective and adequate leadership is a very important component
of the research issue being presented throughout this work. NGOs, their workers,
volunteers, and leaders are the ones that set the pace towards achieving every
organizations goals and as ethically as possible. These are people dedicated to their
communities whether locally, nationally, or internationally. These are people that
many times altruistically concern themselves with the wellbeing of others in need.
What is their main reward? It is the social, economical, and political advancement of
society. This is not a bad reward at all, one may say, considering the lack of resources
that these organizations have to deal with. There is the political pressure and many
criticisms from the government, sometimes the inefficacy of the United Nations as to
giving these organizations the fair chance to achieve their goals, but mostly the lack
of economic resources in order to guarantee more and better help to those who need
it. These notions perpetually ratify the need for good leadership.
In relation to the hierarchy, leadership, and NGOs tasks, NGOs are not only
important in themselves, but also as proxies for international civil society. These
NGOs are the ones who assess, retrospectively or prospectively, the lawfulness of

international actions and whose consequent reactions shape the flow of events
(Holzgrefe & Keohane, 2003, p. 67). When an organization takes on a task, the
difficulty of coordinating everyone needs to be reined in somehow, and the larger the
group, the more urgent the need. The standard, almost universal solution is to create a
hierarchy and to slot individuals into that organization by role (Shirky, 2008, p.42).
For example, in particular, a small group of activists uses naturally occurring social
relationships and meet a variety of organizational and individual needs for emotional
support, integration, sharing of sacrifice, and expression of shared identities (Della
Porta & Diani, 1999, p. 142). These are clear interactive links that need to exist
between leaders and their NGOs.
Shahrukh Khan can also contribute valuable information to the discussion of
leadership and NGOs. Regarding a research study conducted by Khan et. al, in
relation to NGO schooling in Pakistan, their main findings were that the NGO
schools were the most successful in many respects and that good management
and/or good leadership are the key factors for sound schooling (Khan et. al, 2005).
More importantly, Khan explains that good leadership is possible and meaningful for
NGOs since the organization as the school principal is driven by a mission and
exercises the supervision and oversight needed. The mission could be a dedication to
the cause of education and what this represents for nation-building or the motivation
to construct society in a particular image (Khan et. al, 2005).

At the same time, much has been discussed in relation to leadership and social
movements. These social movements generally see the involvement of many NGOs,
therefore leadership also plays a central role in effectively reaching a common goal
through an organization that also happens to be a part of a coalition regarding any
specific cause or issue. Social movements have a particular type of leadership.
Studies of social movements have insisted on defining leadership legitimation as
neither traditional nor rational-legal. Rather, it is charismatic in the Weberian sense,
dependent above all on the ability of leaders to embody the movement as a whole,
contributing to the creation of a collective identity (Della Porta & Diani, 1999,
In relation to this discussion, and as previously presented, Ian Smillie and
John Hailey attest that NGOs grow in three phases: founding, youthful, and adult. In
most cases it was the vision of one individual addressing a particular problem which
started the organization. At the beginning, with only a few people working together,
and all focused on concrete ways of assisting people, management was not an issue,
but as the organizations grew the ad hoc ways of working and communication no
longer sufficed (Smillie & Hailey, 2001). Interestingly, the authors speak of a
coming of age when the NGO loses its first charismatic leader by death or
retirement and the adult is when it succeeds in continuing its work with a new
leadership (Smillie & Hailey, 2001). This is a clear example of how NGOs can grow
from the bottom and later on benefit from their leadership and/or leaders.

Where leadership starts is a fascinating question that adds to the typical debate
of nature versus nurture in relation to leadership. Furthermore, how leadership can be
shaped is a more intrinsically challenging question that Frank Sulloway discusses. He
has written about the nature of scientific creativity and has also employed
evolutionary theory to understand how family dynamics affect personality
development, including that of creative geniuses. He specifically discusses Social
Attitudes, where he studies the relationship between certain attitudes and their
support for revolutionary causes. Sulloway states that openness to change is a
personality characteristic that reflects the flexibility to modify preestablished beliefs,
regardless or their specific nature (Sulloway, 1997, p.217). More importantly,
Sulloways notion serves as an example of how liberalism and open-mindedness can
be correlated to positive and effective leadership under the premise that in social
revolutions, evidence for the intimate relationship between these traits and beliefs and
revolutionary thinking is commonplace (Sulloway, 1997, p.217). If we think about
it, we should not underestimate the notion that rebellious and/or revolutionary
behavior can be an essential trait in great leaders. We cannot deny that revolutionary
vision and the ways leaders apply such vision are meaningful traits of great leaders
who use them in order to achieve change. I personally think that revolution for the
sake of naming it revolution falls short to the true intention behind it; to better the
world. This is why I firmly believe that leadership traits can be shaped from the
moment we are bom, at least regarding the nurture side of the discussion. Family

plays a great role, as well as do the social attitudes shaped by external stimuli from
everyday life examples. But more importantly it is safe to establish that
openmindness is an essential trait in NGOs leaders.
Another great example of how leaders can be shaped and/or be stimulated
comes from Colman McCarthys work. As previously stated, McCarthy documents
different interactions with students along with his teaching curriculum and
nonviolence ideologies and solutions. He comes across as a hands-on motivator who
relates to all the different students he encounters and how motivated he is to teach all
of them the other side of the peace issue apart from their notions of out there or
the real world. This is a great example of how people can be taught these different
ideologies and behaviors. It is also a complementary example to the notion that
leaders can be shaped through good and influential people, in the same way that great
leaders working for NGOs may (and should) also change many minds and affect
public policy throughout the world. Overall, this is a great testament to the idea that
leadership can be effectively taught, or at the very least, stimulated the right way.
Like McCarthy says turning an idea into a fact is where dreamers and doers
separate (McCarthy, 2002, p.xix).
How can these NGO doers turn their ideas into facts? Well, it all begins with
doing so ethically. Even though I already presented the notion of ethical leadership, it
can be also included that ethics are a set of rules, moral parameters, or social norms
established for the purpose of fairness, respect, and proper treatment of any specific

task, situation, or individual. After carefully reviewing this definition, leaders should
not be able to escape the notion of ethics, nor their ethical responsibility considering
the position and power that such leaders may exercise over others. Mark Amstutz
speaks of the strategies of ethical decision making within his work. Amstutz presents
a general discussion regarding ethical strategies and ethical traditions. He states that
ethical strategies provide alternative decision-making methodologies based on
different emphases being given to goals, means, and consequences. Ethical traditions,
by contrast, provide substantive systems that structure moral reasoning and action.
Both ethical perspectives are important in international ethics because they provide
the tools and instruments by which moral values are applied to issues and problems of
global society (Amstutz, 2005, p.28).
This specific discussion can be considered as the roots and ideological
foundations for many of the NGOs that exist today. It also serves as yet another
example as to why we need these organizations, and more importantly why we want
good leaders making these ethical decisions. Moreover, this discussion also relates to
the lack of resources that NGOs experience and the ethical choices they need to make
about many of these issues. Leaders and NGOs need to set the ethical parameters of
their goals, how are they going to achieve them while helping as many people as
possible, who do leave behind, and what will the consequences of poor leadership,
decision-making, or even lack of resources when applied to different cases. And,
these are issues that these organizations and their leaders deal with on a daily basis.

While a government can spend ten million dollars on one military bomber, these
organizations many times struggle to gather enough funds and/or food to feed the
people in a refugee camp. This is a simple example that I want to make regarding the
ethical stances that governments have when compared to NGOs.
Another essential component to any NGO is its workers. In my opinion,
leaders can have the vision, influence, guidance, and management experience, but
without a group of people behind them, they can become useless and ineffective.
Some NGOs may have a numerous staff and others much smaller may not, but these
workers still represent a big part of the heart and soul of these organizations. Leaders
need them as much as they need their leaders. Vijay Padaki attests to this notion
through his research work. In it, he deals mainly with one of the greatest resources
that NGOs count on, and that is human resources and how the people that work for
such NGOs affect these organizations. Padaki states that it is frequently contended
that NGOs and the wider context of development are intrinsically different from other
organizational settings within which Human Resource Development (HRD) is
believed to play an important role. The author outlines the basic concepts
underpinning human development within organizations, and organizational
development, and sets out the arguments for greater investment in people. The failure
to develop the staff on whom a development organization ultimately depends carries
great risks. Management and specifically HRD are not desk-bound activities that can
be pursued through the application of protocols and sanctions, but require vision,

leadership, and hands-on engagement (Padaki, 2007). Padakis article is a very
interesting piece that sets out to study another major component of NGOs, which, as I
mentioned before is its workers. This article allows me to balance my discussion by
also including the people behind the leaders, the people that leaders need to build
resonance with in order to increase effectiveness in their work and goals. These in
turn are the same people that might provide their own leadership within these
organizations. Furthermore, Padaki states that in the NGO context, the concept of
performance must go far beyond the individual, the project, and even the
implementing organization. More important, this understanding of performance has
necessarily to be based on collaborative practices, nurturing a collaborative value
system (Padaki, 2007). This is a very important point for all leaders and their roles in
their NGOs.
Within this discussion, I have briefly included notions of management in
relation to leadership, but one aspect that clearly affects NGOs in relation to
leadership is also the notion of conflict management. For this brief point, See Seng
Tan offers some insight and examples by stating that conflict management today
more often than not involves multiple actors with different mandates, decision-
making structures, rules of engagement and capabilities. For instance, beginning with
the first post-Cold War major effort in humanitarian intervention, Operation Provide
Comfort in Iraq in 1991, institutions and agencies such as the UN, national
governments, military forces and NGOs have been working together to address

conflicts and humanitarian crises. In this respect, conflict management constitutes an
ever-widening arena where civilians representing various constituencies and interests
are increasingly assuming greater responsibility for a growing list of tasks (Tan,
2005), hence the need for effective leadership when managing these situational
interventions and/or participatory efforts.
As mentioned before, not only do these NGO leaders need vision,
management capabilities, and ethics, but they also need to inspire people the right
way, and they need to influence those around them appropriately. Thus, the inability
to apply these different styles can make or break any organization and their goals.
These different leadership styles are also very necessary when dealing with the issue
of lack of resources for these organizations and the challenge this represents.
Resonance is a priceless factor that these NGO leaders cannot do without.
In general, effective leaders for international NGOs need to focus on
outcomes correlated between rights and duties. Since we ordinarily recognize that if
a person has a right X, then that person must have a further right Y to whatever means
are necessary for the enjoyment of right X (Churchill, 2006, p.39).
Significant political obstacles hinder global efforts to promote different
causes. When dramatic changes in the principles governing world politics have
occurred, grassroots movements, non-state actors, leaders, and individuals have
typically been at the forefront of the struggles precipitating these transformations
(DeLaet, 2006, p.216).

Another pertinent notion related to leadership and its influence on NGOs can
be presented through the interpretation and inclusion of Michael Lipskys model
regarding the communication process of protest, in which we can clearly evaluate
the important role of leadership within this model. Lipsky notes that an important
characteristic of protest is that it uses indirect channels to influence decision-makers.
Plus, protest is a political resource of the powerless (Della Porta & Diani, 1999,
p.168). Lipskys model regarding the communication process of protest is represented
through the following table:
Table 2
The Communication process of protest: leaderships role in
influencing decision-making processes
Symbolic Rewards

As this table suggests, for those without power to have policies in their favor
approved must mobilize the support of more powerful groups. More importantly, in
relation to Lipskys table, Donatella Della Porta and Mario Diani note that protest
leaders must nurture and sustain an organization comprised of people with whom they
may or may not share common values. These same leaders must be able to articulate
goals and choose strategies so as to maximize their public exposure through
communications media. They must maximize the impact of third parties in the
political conflict, but more importantly they must try to maximize chances of success
among those capable of granting goals (Della Porta & Diani, 1999, p. 181).
As we can gather, leadership is a very complex notion, as well as a very
important quality for those people who lead these different NGOs. Many factors play
a role in the formation of these great leaders. Rebellious tendencies, are an important
factor. Family stimulus is a priceless learning tool as well. Effective leadership role
models, social attitudes, ethical strategies and traditions, the human resources and
power as a pillar of their strength and efficiency, and the immense power of
resonance and leadership styles are some of the most important components of
effective, visionary, and transcendental leadership. These are also the components
that in return will guarantee that the people being helped by these NGOs are helped in
the correct way, the ethical way, and the efficient way. In a broader sense, these
factors also hold responsibility for social, political, and economical advancement in

many different societies, hence we should never underestimate the power of these
Lesley Abdela says it well when she states that in contrast to becoming a
leader by virtue of descent or being elected into office, a leader may be the most
influential member of a popular movement or organization, operating with little if any
formal authority. They may not have been elected or appointed in a formal institution
but either have been elected in an informal movement or somehow emerged as leader
of the pack (Abdela, 2000).
In the end, it can be argued that NGOs, leaders, policy makers, and their
advocates routinely think of themselves not only speaking truth to power, but
speaking to power as the representative of someone else, the underrepresented, the
powerless, the victimized, the voiceless, the public interest, and even the unborn
(Kennedy, 2004, p.351). As Fanny Ann Eddy, founder of the Sierra Leone Lesbian
and Gay Association, points out silence creates vulnerability. Leaders and their
NGOs can break this silence and bring dignity to affected people (Rothenberg, 2006,

NGO Leadership and Leaders as Initiators
This paper examines the role of leadership in NGOs along with how these
leaders are initiators for these organizations. This work draws on the analysis of new
and existing research into the dimensions of NGO leadership highlighting the
importance of both individual attributes and contextual relevance. Effective NGO
leaders are able to balance a range of competing pressures from different stakeholders
in ways that do not compromise their individual identity and values (Hailey & James,
Recent research by INTRACs (International NGO Training and Research
Centre) new Praxis Programme into organizational capacity building has highlighted
the growing interest in the dynamics and effectiveness of different types of capacity
building interventionsincluding leadership assessment and leadership traits (Praxis,
The increasing role and significance of nonprofit and civil society
organizations in the international arena means that the leadership of such
organizations faces increasingly complex problems (Eade, 2000; Edwards, 1999;

Fowler, 1997; Hailey, 2000; Lewis, 2001; Smillie, 1995). This is particularly apparent
in the NGO community, which faces particular leadership challenges distinct from
those faced by governments or the for-profit sector. NGOs have a social change
mission and specifically work with vulnerable people and marginalized groups who
have often been ignored or overlooked by government services and the mainstream
social services. NGOs are intermediary organizations bridging donors and
beneficiaries and therefore have to constantly respond to multiple constituencies or
clients. The leadership of such NGOs face extraordinary challenges as they work with
very limited resources in uncertain and volatile political and economic circumstances
to help the most marginalized and disadvantaged members of their communities
(Hailey & James, 2004).
The NGO sector is full of anecdotal stories about the detrimental impact of
paternalistic founder leaders, charismatic autocrats, or the guru syndrome
(Hailey, 1999). It has been suggested that the paternalistic nature of leadership in the
NGO sector is a natural consequence of the high levels of commitment and shared
sense of ownership common to many NGOs (Fowler, 1997). Hailey and James also
point out that on one hand such leaders demonstrate a drive and commitment, and a
remarkable ability to mobilize people and resources. While on the other hand they are
criticized for dominating organizations, being unaccountable, and failing to adapt to
changing circumstances. Chambers (1997, p.76) points out that such NGO leaders can

achieve many things through their guts, vision and commitment (Hailey & James,
As is the case with this study, the emphasis on the personal characteristics and
attributes of individual leaders as initiators is the central question. As a research
example, UphofFs (1998) studies into the dimensions of effective rural development
programmes highlight the role of key individuals, often who have come from outside
the rural community studied, and who play a catalytic role in inspiring, initiating, and
guiding innovative rural development processes. He identifies this group of unusually
able and motivated individuals as development entrepreneurs or social innovators
(Hailey & James, 2004). They continue by saying that:
the leaders studied had a highly personalized and distinctive leadership style. They
appear pragmatic, rational, and aspirational. However, on more detailed analysis it is
clear from the case studies collected as part of [their] research that the leaders of the
NGOs studied demonstrated a striking ability to balance competing demands on their
time and energy with their own values and ambitions. They appeared both managerial
and value driven. They had clear and ambitious development aspirations, and an
ability to understand and work with what resources they had and the volatile
environment in which they found themselves. These development leaders had
developed a distinct character and leadership style that can be characterized as being
value-driven, knowledge-based, and responsive (Hailey & James, 2004).
When relating this information to this study, in practice, leaders as initiators
have a clear vision, a firm value-set, and a strong sense of commitment to helping
those in need. Second, these leaders share a willingness to learn and experiment, to
apply new technologies or organizational forms, and draw on science or other sources
of applied or professional knowledge. Third, they have a curiosity and ability to

analyze the external environment, follow trends, and respond to changing
circumstances. Fourth, they have communication and interpersonal skills that enabled
them to motivate staff and engage with a cross-section of society. Fifth, they have the
ability to balance diverse demands and play different roles (Hailey & James, 2004).
In order to better illustrate this last notion I will be presenting several case studies of
initiation and initiating leaders and their respective NGOs and achieved goals.

Physicians for Human Rights
This specific NGO can serve as a measurable case study into a main thesis
being argued through this work. This organization was started by three unique leaders
who had specific insight and visions for their mission. They represent three leaders as
initiators who have had a long lasting effect in the fight for human rights and social
In 1981, Jonathan Fine, a primary care physician working at the North End
Neighborhood Health Center in Boston, got a call from a Harvard history professor.
Did he know a Spanish-speaking physician willing to fly to Chile on short notice
who would lead a delegation seeking the release of three prominent physicians who
had been disappeared by the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet?
The next week, Dr. Fine found himself before a military judge in Valparaiso
who was intimidated by the delegation. Within an hour, Dr. Fines delegation was
allowed entry to the prison to meet its Chilean colleagues, who had just emerged from
the hands of the notorious CNI security forces. They were psychologically

terrorized, recalls Dr. Fine. It was an awesome experience. Hearing these and other
torture survivors who suffered unspeakable abuse changed my life. Their testimonies
were riveting, and so outraged me that within a few years I left my medical practice
to do this work full time (www.phvsiciansforhumanrights.comf
The mission to Chile and Dr. Fines subsequent participation in human rights
delegations to Guatemala, the Philippines, and South Korea produced press
conferences in front of presidential palaces, congressional testimony at home, flurries
of letters, and the prompt release of many political prisoners. The three Chilean
doctors were released five weeks after Dr. Fines visit
Dr. Fine was convinced that direct witnessing, reporting, and advocacy could
be very powerful. He also became keenly aware of a huge, untapped resource for the
human rights movement individuals with specialized skills who identify with and
draw strength from co-professionals overseas. In 1983, he formed the American
Committee for Human Rights as an (non-profit) entrepreneurial effort in human rights
advocacy (
I saw the tremendous impact individual advocates in this country could
have... how we could change a governments behavior, recalls Dr. Fine. He also felt
strongly that as physicians we had a special responsibility to prevent the horror of

torture and the degradation of our skills in the aid of the torturer
He was not alone in this insight. In 1985, Jean Mayer, then President of Tufts
University, sent his medical schools chief pediatrician, Jane Green Schaller, to South
Africa to examine childrens health under apartheid. Witnessing brutality, illness, and
depression in a society denied basic human rights, she returned to Boston
transformed, with a passion to mobilize her colleagues and make a difference
Robert Lawrence was a mentor to several generations of residents in internal
medicine at Cambridge Hospital, a Harvard teaching facility with a well-known
commitment to the under-served. Dr. Lawrence had spent time in Central and South
America during the late 1960s conducting epidemiological studies. He was acutely
aware of how politics and economic repression can affect health. After returning from
a 1983 human rights mission to El Salvador sponsored by several groups, including
the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, he joined Dr. Fine and
Eric Stover of the AAAS in an investigation in the Philippines
( Then came the addition of Carola Eisenberg.

Carola Eisenberg
Carola Eisenberg, Dean of Student Affairs at Harvard Medical School, came

to the group with painful personal associations. Friends and relatives were murdered
in her native Argentinas dirty war. She, too, had participated in a human rights
investigation, a 1983 delegation to El Salvador organized by the American Public
Health Association (").
Dr. Eisenbergs commitment to human rights began at an early age, when, as a
teenager in the 1930s in her native Argentina, she accompanied her father on a tour of
the country's state psychiatric hospital. What she witnessed there 3,500 patients
chained to their beds fueled her activism, which in turn fueled her initiation
commitment to this NGO. She began working at the hospital and later became a
psychiatric social worker, eventually enrolling in an almost exclusively all-male
medical school in Argentina. This led to a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, where she later became an assistant professor of pediatrics and
psychiatry (http://physiciansforhuman
eisenberg.html). All these accomplishments have shaped Dr. Eisenberg into the leader
that she became and is nowadays, a person who suffered these injustices, fought
against them, understood them and had the vision to help found one of the most
influential NGOs of the last three decades. The PHR is also credited with being one
of the key NGOs that were successful in promoting and achieving the International
Landmines Ban. This also earned them the Nobel Peace Prize. .

Dr. Eisenberg is currently retired but she is still involved in human rights
work through PHR. She is also the former Dean of Students of MIT, and Dean of
Students at Harvard Medical School until 1990. As a PHR cofounder and former Vice
President she has been a member of several human rights mission to El Salvador,
Chile, and Paraguay (http://physiciansforhuman
Robert S. Lawrence
Dr. Lawrence is a founding member of Physicians for Human Rights and
served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1985-1991. He was reelected to
the Board in 1997 and was elected its President in 1998.
He is currently the Associate Dean for Professional Education and Programs,
Edyth H. Schoenrich Professor of Preventative Medicine, Professor of Health Policy
and Management, and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the John
Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and Professor of Medicine at the John
Hopkins School of Medicine (
/robert-lawrence. html).
Dr. Lawrence graduated from Harvard Medical School, trained in Internal
Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and served for three years
as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention. At the University of North Carolina and as director of the Division of
Primary Care at Harvard Medical School and chief of Medicine at the Cambridge
Hospital, he helped develop community health service and training programs
(http://physiciansforhumanrights. org/about/board_bios/robert-lawrence.html).
Dr. Lawrence chaired the first US Preventive Services Task Force from 1984-
89 and served on the successor Task Force from 1990-96. He currently consults for
the DCD Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Dr. Lawrence has
participated in human rights missions on behalf of PHR or other human rights groups
to Chile, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Philippines, South
Africa, and Kosovo (
lawrence.html). Dr. Lawrence is another example of an effective leader as initiator
who co-founded this organization and has helped the human rights general cause by
his contributions and actions regarding helping those in need and being part of the
solution to these needs.
Richard J. Goldstone
Richard J. Goldstone was bom on the 26th October 1938, and graduated from
the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, with a BA LLB cum laude in
1962. He then practiced as an Advocate at the Johannesburg Bar. In 1976 he was
appointed Senior Counsel and in 1980 was made Judge of the Transvaal Supreme

Court. In 1989 Goldstone was appointed Judge of the Appellate Division of the
Supreme Court. From July 1994 to October 2003 he was a Justice of the
Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Justice Goldstone has spent his career working in many areas of human rights,
including serving as Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry regarding Public
Violence and Intimidation; this Commission came to be known as the Goldstone
Commission. He is also the author of For Humanity: Reflections of a War Crimes
Investigator, (2001) Yale University Press.
Goldstone has found inspiration for his constant work as an initiator, plus as a
PHR initiator leader from his Jewish background. He has been quoted saying that
bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust. He was a
constant fighter against South African apartheid, especially since he was from this
country and also served as Judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court and later on the
Constitutional Court of South Africa. Justice Goldstone is a person who has been
immersed in constant fighting for human rights. From his inspirational Jewish
background, his anti-apartheid work in South Africa and even his most recent work as
Chief UN prosecutor in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, this is a person that has shown great
leadership skills and that has taken his vision and his fight to the founding of PHR
and holding many prestigious and influential positions that have helped him
effectively change public policy and be part of social change with tremendous impact.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International is another well recognized international NGO that
deals with many different social issues in many different countries, more specifically
with human rights issues and campaigns. This is also one of the biggest and most
influential NGOs of the last twenty years when raising awareness regarding the death
penalty, violence against women, the war on terror and its practices, and even
unregulated global arms trade. This organization was initiated by the influential
vision, history, and personality of Peter Benenson.
Peter Benenson
Countless people, facing persecution the world over people living and those
as yet unborn have reason to thank Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty
International. For it was his inspiration in the 1960s that launched what was soon
dubbed one of the larger lunacies of our time: a worldwide citizens movement to
expose and confront government injustice (Pax Christi, 2001).
Bom on 31 July 1921, Peter Benenson was the grandson of the Russian-
Jewish banker Grigori Benenson and son of the notable Flora Solomon who raised
him alone after the death of her husband, British Army colonel John Solomon. He
was tutored privately by WH Auden, and then went to Eton and Oxford where he
studied history.

His flair for controversy emerged early, when his complaint to the
headmaster of Eton about the poor quality of the schools food prompted a letter to
his mother warning of her sons revolutionary tendencies. At age 16, he launched
his first campaign: to get school support, during the Spanish Civil War, for the newly-
formed Spanish Relief Committee which was helping Republican war orphans. He
himself adopted one of the babies, helping to pay for its support (Pax Christi,
His concern about political imprisonment and mistreatment was inspired by
Arthur Koestlers Spanish Testament, which described the horrors of imprisonment
and threatened execution by the Fascists. It was this concern that led to his next
campaign ~ the plight of Jews who had fled from Hitlers Germany. Despite some
opposition, he succeeded in getting his school friends and their families to raise
£4,000 to bring two young German Jews to Britain, thus very likely saving their lives.
After leaving Eton, he helped his politically committed mother with finding homes in
various countries for refugee children who arrived in London (Pax Christi, 2001).
After his graduation from Oxford he joined the British army, where he worked
in the Ministry of Information press office. While still in the army after the war had
ended he studied law and left the forces to become a practicing lawyer. He also joined
the Labour Party, becoming a leading member of the Society of Labour Lawyers (Pax
Christi, 2001).

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) sent him to Spain as its observer at trials
of trade unionists in the early 1950s where Mr. Benenson was appalled by what he
saw both in the courtrooms and in the prisons. In one instance he was so outraged by
the proceedings that he drew up a list of complaints with which he confronted the trial
judge over dinner. The trial ended with acquittals, a rarity in Fascist Spain.
It was through such activities that he began to acquire an international
reputation. In Cyprus he helped and advised Greek Cypriot lawyers whose clients had
fallen foul of their British rulers. He managed to bring together Labour, Liberal and
Conservative lawyers and get them to send observers to Hungary in the throes of the
1956 uprising and ensuing trials, and to South Africa where a major treason trial
was due to take place. The relative success of these two schemes led to the formation
of Justice (Pax Christi, 2001), another initiative which, like Amnesty International,
has had a distinguished record of work in the defense of the rule of law for more than
three decades.
It was this constant activity that laid the groundwork for his main endeavor,
the 1961 launching of Amnesty International. The catalyst was his sense of outrage
on reading a news item about the arrest and imprisonment of two students in a Lisbon
cafe who had drunk a toast to liberty.
As he himself put it: It was in 19601 think that these thoughts came to a head
in my mind. It was during World Refugee Year which was the first of those great

international years. That one was set up to try to empty the displaced person camps all
over Europe and it was a tremendous success. That led me to think that perhaps we
could have another year to try to empty the concentration camps (Pax Christi, 2001).
So, with the publication of a front page appeal in The Observer newspaper
titled The Forgotten Prisoners, Amnesty International was bom. The term prisoner
of conscience soon became common currency and the movements logo, a candle
surrounded by barbed wire, became a worldwide symbol of hope and freedom (Pax
Christi, 2001).
For the first few years Mr. Benenson worked tirelessly for the new,
burgeoning movement supplying much of the early vital financial resources, going on
research missions himself to country after country, and playing a part in all the
organizations affairs. On one occasion, in order to get into a particularly inaccessible
country (Haiti), he posed as a British folk artist (Pax Christi, 2001).
It was out of the experience of those early days that new operating principles
were forged upon which Amnesty International was later to grow into one of the most
influential human rights organization in the world political impartiality,
independence from governments, and rigorous accuracy of information (Pax Christi,
At that time we were still putting our toes in the water and learning as we
went on, Mr. Benenson later reflected. We tried every technique of publicity and

we were very grateful to the widespread help of journalists and television crews
throughout the world who not only sent us information about the names of prisoners
but also, whenever they could, gave space to stories about prisoners. Its the publicity
function of Amnesty that I think has made its name so widely known, not only to
readers in the world, but to governments -- and thats what matters (Pax Christi,
He found a society for people with coeliac disease -- a condition from which
he suffers himself with the goal of increasing awareness of and knowledge about
the illness. In the 1980s he became the chair of the newly created Association of
Christians Against Torture and in the early 1990s organized help for the orphans of
Ceaucescus Romania.
He never lost his enthusiasm for Amnesty International and with the
appointment of a Swedish Secretary General Thomas Hammarberg in the mid-1980s
returned to an active role in the movement as a speaker and campaigner on its behalf
(Pax Christi, 2001).
He was the first to use the words which have since found themselves on
posters, T-shirts and postcards in dozens of languages all over the world: The candle
bums not for us, but for all those whom we failed to rescue from prison, who were
shot on the way to prison, who were tortured, who were kidnapped, who
disappeared. Thats what the candle is for. .. (Pax Christi, 2001).

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is one of the worlds leading independent organizations
dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international
attention where human rights are violated, [they] give voice to the oppressed and hold
oppressors accountable for their crimes. Their rigorous, objective investigations and
strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of
human rights abuse ( For 30 years, Human Rights
Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-
rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around
the world ( /about).
In 1997 Human Rights Watch shared in the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding
member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, along with PHR. Human
Rights Watch began in 1978 with the creation of Helsinki Watch, designed to
support the citizens groups formed throughout the Soviet bloc to monitor
government compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Helsinki Watch adopted a
methodology of publicly naming and shaming abusive governments through media
coverage and through direct exchanges with policymakers. By shining the
international spotlight on human rights violations in the Soviet Union and Eastern
Europe, Helsinki Watch contributed to the dramatic democratic transformations of the

late 1980s ( This influential NGO was founded
by Robert Benrstein, Jeri Laber, and Natan Sharansky.
Robert Bernstein
Robert Bernstein is one of the three leaders as initiators who founded Human
Rights Watch. The Yale Law School characterizes Mr. Bernstein as devoting his life
to the active defense of freedom of expression and to the protection of victims of
injustice and abuse throughout the world. As one of the most influential voices in
American publishing for over three decades, he is also a dominant force in the
development of the international human rights movement (
Mr. Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to
Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966.
He headed Random House for 25 years. After being invited to the Soviet Union as
part of a delegation from the Association of American Publishers, he became
interested in writers whose work could not be published in their own countries.
Beginning with Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, he ensured that authors like
Vaclav Havel, Jacobo Timerman, and Wei Jingsheng were all published around the
world (

Mr. Bernstein is the founder and former chair of Human Rights Watch. He
has also served as chairman of the Association of American Publishers (1972-73) and
was the founder and chairman of its Committee on International Freedom to Publish
(1973-76). He founded the Fund for Free Expression in 1975 and was its chairman
until 1990, when he became founding chairman. Mr. Bernstein played a leading role
in the campaign to protect Soviet Jews. More recently, he has been a strong advocate
for respect for human rights in China and is chair of the board of the organization
Human Rights in China (
After his experience in Moscow in 1973, Mr. Bernstein returned to the U.S.
and established the Fund for Free Expression, which eventually grew into Human
Rights Watch. Today, Human Rights Watch has a staff of nearly two hundred and
covers some 70 countries. With offices in a dozen places, Human Rights Watch is
renowned for advocacy on a broad range of issues, including womens rights,
childrens rights, international justice, the human rights responsibilities of
corporations, refugees, arms transfers and free expression everywhere
His role as initiator is yet another example of someone whos individual
passion gave him a way to experience a different challenge, in his case censorship,
and then in initiating a campaign and an NGO to deal with this issue and fight against
it in order to achieve social change and advancement.

Jeri Laber
Jeri Laber is one of the other founders of Human Rights Watch. She is the
author and/or editor of dozens of Human Rights Watch reports and more than 100
articles on human rights issues published in the New York Times, The New York
Review of Books and many other publications. Her memoir The Courage of
Strangers: Coming of Age with the Human Rights Movement was published in 2002
by Public Affairs. She is co-author, with Barnett Rubin, of A Nation is Dying:
Afghanistan Under the Soviets, Northwestern University Press
In the course of her human rights work, Ms. Laber made many fact-finding
trips to the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Tribal Areas of
Pakistan where she interviewed Afghan refugees. She offered friendship and moral
support to dissidents in the former Communist countries, many of whom, after 1989,
became the leaders of their newly democratic countries (
Ms. Laber was active in the early development of the human rights movement.
She served as Executive Director of Helsinki Watch (which became Human Rights
Watch) from 1978-1995 and then as Senior Adviser to Human Rights Watch until
2000. She was a founder of the International Helsinki Federation and was its Vice-
Chair for many years. She serves as a consultant to the International Freedom to

Publish Committee of the Association of American Publishers, a position she has held
since 1977 (
Early in her career, Ms. Laber worked as Foreign Editor of The Current
Digest of the Soviet Press and then as Publications Director of the Institute for the
Study of the USSR.
Natan Sharansky
Natan Sharansky is also credited as one of the initiating leaders for what
became the Human Rights Watch NGO. He is specifically credited with becoming the
spokesperson for the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, which later became Human
Rights Watch. This is also another clear example of how past experiences can create
certain characteristics that propel individuals such as Mr. Sharansky to become an
initiating leader who influences the creation of different campaigns and organizations.
Bom in Donetsk, Soviet Union (now the Ukraine), to a Jewish family, he
graduated with a degree in applied mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics
and Technology. As a child, he was a chess prodigy. He performed in simultaneous
and blindfold displays, usually against adults. At the age of 15, he won the
championship in his native Donetsk. When incarcerated in solitary confinement, he
claims to have played chess against himself in his mind. Sharansky beat the world

chess champion Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous exhibition in Israel in 1996
After being denied an exit visa to Israel on the grounds of national security in
1973, he became an activist in the human rights movement led by prominent physicist
and dissident Andrei Sakharov, and became internationally known as the
spokesperson for the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group. Once the world's most famous
incarcerated Soviet dissident, Sharansky was one of the founders of, and spokesmen
for, the Jewish and Refusenik movements in Moscow
(http://www.natansharansky. org)..
In March 1977, he was arrested, and in July 1978 convicted on charges of
treason and spying for the United States, and sentenced to 13 years of forced labor.
After 16 months of incarceration in Lefortovo prison, he was sent to Perm 35, a
Siberian labor camp, where he served nine years. The fate of Sharansky and other
political prisoners in the USSR repeatedly brought to international attention by
Western human rights groups and diplomats was a cause of embarrassment and
irritation for the Soviet authorities. As a result of increasing pressure of a mounting
international campaign led by his wife, Avital Sharansky, in 1986, he was released to
East Germany and led across the Glienicke Bridge to West Berlin where he was
exchanged for a pair of Soviet spies, Karl Koecher and his wife Hana Koecher.
Famed for his resistance in the Gulag, he was told upon his release to walk straight

towards his freedom; Sharansky instead walked in a zigzag motion as a final act of
defiance. (Sharansky made aliyah to Israel, adopting the Hebrew name Natan)
( sharansky.html).
In 1988, Sharansky founded and became the first President of the Zionist
Forum, an umbrella organization of Jewish activists from the former Soviet Union
groups dedicated to helping new Israelis and educating the public about absorption
issues. Sharansky also served as a contributing editor to The Jerusalem Report and as
a board member of Peace Watch (
In conclusion, these case studies, different organizations, and different leaders
as initiators have some similar traits among them, but all of them have also
experienced different social actions in different ways. Nonetheless, these leaders as
initiators have accomplished their goals of fighting against the causes closest and
more personal to them through different approaches. Some were motivated by the
desire to help others in need. Other leaders applied hands-on solutions to eradicate
their own experiences and help others like them in need. Others accepted the
challenge of being part of the solution and got voluntarily involved in different causes
with the end result of being founders of many of these NGOs. Even though no solid
correlational inferences can be made, other than some shared background
traits/experiences, these leaders as initiators and these NGOs have had a positive and
meaningful social influence.

Theoretical Framework
Contingency Theory was initially based on the work of Joan Woodward in
1958 and a later model introduced by Fred Fiedler focusing on individual leadership
leaving behind the initial broader generalizations about formal structures,
technologies, and leadership styles. In Fiedlers Contingency Model we find that a
leaders ability to lead is contingent upon various situational factors such as the
leaders preferred style, the capabilities and behaviors of followers, and other
situational variables as well. This theory represents a behavioral theory that also
contends that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that
proves effective in some situations does not necessarily has to be successful in others.
It also proposes that leaders who are very effective at one place and time may become
unsuccessful when places in another situation or when the surrounding variables may
be different. This, in turn, also proposes the idea that there is no best way to organize,
lead, or maintain an organization (Fiedler, 1986). This theory is also commonly
associated with the Situational Theory since both share a basic assumption that there
is no simple one right way. This model also balances my main research questions
throughout this study and creates a link to leaders as initiators in the sense that many
leaders will posses different styles, whether developed naturally or shaped by their
personal background, but meaningful enough to make them successful initiators.
Fred Fiedler and Joe Garcia (1987) also introduced their Cognitive Resource
Theory where they contest that intelligence and experience, as well as various other

cognitive resources are valid factors in leadership success. They discuss the idea that
cognitive capabilities are meaningful, but not necessarily enough in order to predict
leadership success. Their main theoretical predictors are: (1) a leaders cognitive
ability contributes to the performance of the team only when the leaders approach is
directive; (2) stress affects the relationship between intelligence and decision quality;
(3) experience is positively related to decision quality under high stress; and (4) for
simple tasks, leader intelligence and experience is irrelevant (Fiedler & Garcia, 1987).
Following these predictors we have that when leaders are better at planning
and decision- making, they need to instruct people what to do instead of hoping that
followers simply agree with them. Fiedler and Garcia also contest that when there is a
high stress situation and intelligence is impaired, experience of the same or similar
situations enables the leaders to react in appropriate ways without having to think
carefully about the situation. Experience of decision-making under stress will also
contribute to a better decision. For last, it is also important to consider that a
particularly significant aspect of this theoretical model is the principle that
intelligence is the main factor in low-stress situations, whilst experience counts for
more during high-stress situations and/or decisions (Fiedler & Garcia, 1987). This
model helps reflect the interaction of the background factors discussed through my
work, more specifically when analyzing the importance of personal experiences most
of these leaders have gone through along with the level of academic and personal
education these same figures posses.

Charles Fox and Hugh Miller (1995) have proposed what they call a
Discourse Theory of Public Administration. They argue that organizational theory has
erred by exaggerating the rationality of human nature, by assuming that organizations
are concrete entities, and by assuming consensus about organizational goals. Instead,
they say that human behavior is more political than rational, organizations are social
constructions created by a struggle over meanings, and differing meanings are
reflected in disagreements and tensions about organizational goals. Speaking more
specifically, they draw our attention to the widely held myth that we operate under a
rational model of democracy, in which public policy and administration reflects the
wishes of the people. Fox and Miller counter this myth with evidence that the public
will is manipulated by the news media, political spin doctors, and special interest
groups; that the majority of people do not remain vigilant about public issues; and
that the greatest influences on elected officials are lobbyists and special interest
groups (Hutchison, 2003, p.491). Fox and Miller argue for a new model of public
policy and administration that can restore greater democracy to the political process.
In their discourse model, leaders become midwives, using their skills and
commitment to facilitate a more authentic public discourse among disparate groups
about public issues. These leaders participate in this discourse while being willing to
speak sincerely; to take into consideration the context of the problem, the lives of
those affected, and the public interest; to maintain active engagement with the
ongoing discourse; and to have a contribution to make (Hutchison, 2003, p.493). This

theoretical model exalts the importance of leaders as initiators and their constant need
to be active components of our society in order to ensure social change and social
progress as well.
Another theoretical link that I am including for this study pertains to the work
of Ronald Heifetz and his Adaptive Leadership model (2002). The Heifetz
framework presents theoretical distinctions that can bring better clarity to the question
of what is meant by the term leadership. It also includes different tools that are
relevant to the teaching of leadership (Klau, 2006).
After reviewing some of the major movements in leadership theory such as
the trait approach, the situational approach, contingency theory, and the transactional
approach, Heifetz highlights a main concern regarding these four general approaches
attempting to define leadership objectively, without making value judgments (Klau,
When defining leadership in terms of prominence, authority, and influence,
however, these theories introduce value biases implicitly without declaring their
introduction and without arguing for the necessity of the values introduced (Klau,
2006). While he recognizes that these approaches have provided different useful
insights, Heifetz makes a strong case that this lack of clarity is problematic. He notes
that leadership has been exercised in the past by figures such as Rosa Parks and
Mohandas Gandhi, who made an impact from a societal position that initially lacked
formal prominence, authority, or influence (Klau, 2006).

Parting form this latter point, Heifetz argues for making a distinction between
authority and leadership. While the two concepts are related and frequently
confused, one need not possess authority to exercise leadership. Authority involves
holding a formal position, such as student council president, teacher, principal, or
CEO (Klau, 2006). However, as the previous examples of such revered figures
demonstrate, individuals without authority may still attempt to exercise leadership
(Klau, 2006).
As Klau continues, Heifetz also distinguishes between technical and adaptive
challenges. Technical challenges are relatively straightforward problems that we
already know how to solve. Far more complexand ultimately far more important
are adaptive challenges that have no clear solution and frequently require changes in
the values and behaviors of the group (Klau, 2006). To exemplify this distinction in
a better way, Klau offers the example of planning a bus route in Montgomery,
Alabama, was a technical challenge; transforming the relationship between Blacks
and Whites in the Jim Crow south was an adaptive challenge (Klau, 2006).
More specifically related to the leaders as initiators premise being explored
throughout this work, Social Identity Theory presents a valid framework for this main
research inquiry. Henri Tajfel and John Turners (1979) Social Identity Theory argues
that leadership behavior is bound up with leaders definitions of themselves in
relation to the grouptheir social identity (Haslam, 2001). As such, leadership is
not a person so much as a relationship. It is a dynamic process of mutual influence

between leaders and followers. As Mayo pointed out 50 years ago, The desire to
stand well with ones fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily
outweighs the merely individual interest and logical reasoning upon which so many
spurious principles of management are based (quoted in Haslam, 2001, p. 17). Yet
despite this it seems that still, most studies of leadership are divorced from the
broader social context within which these roles and qualities emerge (Haslam,
2001, p. 58) (Hailey & James, 2004).
These five different theoretical links corroborate the notion of the importance
and active correlation between leadership, leaders as initiators, and their effect on an
organization. Fiedlers Contingency Model offers a theoretical link into leaders
abilities, styles, and capabilities. Fiedler and Garcias Cognitive Resource Theory
speak of intelligence and experience, as well as various other cognitive resources as
valid factors in leadership success. Fox and Miller argue for a new Model of Public
Policy and Administration where leaders become midwives, using their skills and
commitment to facilitate a more authentic public discourse among disparate groups
about different issues. This in turn offers a theoretical link for the research issue of
leadership in NGOs, leaders as initiators, and their effectiveness being presented
throughout this study as well. Heifetzs Adaptive Leadership Model furthers this
proposed thesis by demonstrating the effect that leadership can have on different
organizations and social movements as well. For last, Tajfel and Turners Social
Identity Theory links the importance between a leaders own perception and how they

perceive themselves in a group. This also supports the idea that these NGO leaders
have amore personal approach to their experiences, taking action regarding some
social situations they might have been exposed to, and initiating organizations as part
of the solution to the problem. These theories are not mutually exclusive, but do
provide a theoretical framework and link to the research questions being explored
throughout this study.

The research issues concerning leadership and NGOs, and leaders as initiators
are very complex and they fall within a non homogenous area. NGOs are still around
because they stay true enough to their main goals without necessarily following a
specific model. None of the background inferences of these leaders as initiators can
be scientifically connected based on the research presented in this work. However,
several variables such as levels of education, ethnic background, and personal
experiences of social actions are shared by most of the leaders as initiators case
studies presented in this work. I still maintain that these leaders, their leadership
styles, and their actions as initiating leaders do make them and the NGOs they
founded effective. Even though I can draw very few lessons from this since these
results do not show correlations, these leaders are influential, but I hope in future
research I can answer these or other questions differently.
As previously mentioned, these are not all of the existing leadership traits,
types, or brands, but instead the most useful ones to explain effective leadership in
NGOs. At the same time, the variable of feedback and leadership will always be an
essential component within this discussion. Ethics, beliefs, dedication, revolutionary

thinking, past experiences, actions, being informed, being organized, and
having/transmitting a charismatic sense of authenticity will enable many natural or
made leaders to effectively affect their followers, help those in need, and change the
world in different ways.
Regarding NGOs, these organizations need to keep doing all the activities that
I have mentioned throughout this study. They also need to further assure they are
benefiting from good and effective leadership. They also need to set effective
objectives, strategies, and actions in order to challenge and make a difference
regarding the social, economic, political, and legal obstacles that they will encounter
and that they fight against.
These NGOs need to keep working with all major international organizations
governmental or not, in order to achieve all their social change goals. They need to
adapt to modem changes and innovations and make sure their fight is still relevant
and meaningful in order to truly help those who need their help in many different
global situations and global fields.
Without NGOs and their leaders I believe that we would jeopardize the quality
of democracy and the need and effectiveness of public policy making. How will we
solve our many differences while guaranteeing the processes of consultation and
assessment, management, and resolution of social issues worldwide?
In the end, NGOs and the people that work for them are essential components
of any society. These are the organizations and the social leaders that guarantee the

advancement of society, that give a voice to underrepresented minorities, and help
those people who are in need. These are the champions of many public policies
enacted because of their effort to raise social awareness for many different issues.
These people, leaders, and organizations have been responsible for much needed
change, and we need to make sure that they can keep performing this function. As
Warren Bennis puts it, we should be concerned with public service and the
application of social knowledge to influence society, opinion, and policymakers
(Bennis, 1976, p.85); and this is what great leaders need to do.
Going beyond the political sphere or focus, we also need to see leadership as a
psychological trait highly valued in our society. As Max Klau assesses, some
researchers believe that the notion of leadership and its education contains elements
of theory and practice directly relevant to this emerging interest in promoting positive
psychological development (Klau, 2006). Klau further presents a very valid point
when he states that the word leadership (and, to some extent, related words such as
lead, leader, and leading) are used in scholarly and popular publications,
organizational newsletters and reports, and the media to mean very different things
that have little to do with any considered notion of what leadership actually is (Klau,
As Bennis states all groups in general, but professional groups in particular,
do not change unless they are forced to (Bennis, 1976, p.89), and these NGOs, their
workers and their leaders are those inducing that needed change by forcing

governments and many special interest groups to rethink, restrategize, and reassess
their roles within these many social, economical, and political issues that we face
today at all levels of society. The same way, people need to be encouraged to deal
with these NGOs, they need to encourage these leaders to do everything they can. If
indeed Bennis is right when he says that another way organizations change is
through external events: the forces of society impinging on the organizations
(Bennis, 1976, p.90), then NGOs and governments also need to keep up and adapt to
the different needs of our society. Even though this might be considered a utopian
way to affect public policy, it is still believed as a realistic possibility; not to mention
of it being our moral, ethical, and social responsibility. Leaders also need to embody
Bennis idea that role innovators shift the whole paradigm in a practice sense
(Bennis, 1976, p.92). These leaders need to have enough vision to be ahead of the
available resources and dogmatic mentalities that abound within the world of NGOs.
A pretty big office in the Empire States Building does not necessarily mean that an
NGO is doing a great job It may mean that it is wasting resources that can be used to
help many people.
Moreover as Bennis says, innovations are always seductive and bring in
interesting people, some of whom do not, in fact, gain you adherents but instead lose
them (Bennis, 1976, p.93). These are exactly the embodiment of my views of what
leadership will (and should) be about in the 21st century here in the United States and
in many places around the world. It is innovation and change what will set the new

rules for leaders in the 21st century. It is change that will force the system to evolve. It
is society that will need to heed the call and become part of the solution and not just
be part of the problem. It will be these role innovators and charismatic leaders
who will induce paradigm shifts that would greatly benefit society. I believe that even
though bringing about change can find a significant level of resistance, the newer
generations look more open-minded to the idea of change, and change also counts
with many different tools, that have proven to be highly effective as well.
In conclusion, the issue of NGOs and their leaders has to be a constant issue,
not only as a research interest, but also a topic of constant discussion. NGO leaders
cannot afford to fall behind the international interest groups that do have the
resources. These leaders and these organizations cannot afford the luxury of falling
behind or giving in to governmental self-interests that are detrimental to the majority.
The people who work for these organizations and the organizations themselves need
to keep up the relentless and altruistic attitudes that they continue to demonstrate.
They need to be constantly reminded of the role they play in the social, political, and
economic advancement of society. Change is the most efficient goal that these NGOs
can hope to pursue and to achieve. I understand that there is an inherent resistance to
change, but this should not be the case when the issue is trying to help those in need. I
am not ignorant to our individualistic human nature, or to our current interests and
supposed priorities. All I am trying to convey is that we really need an evolution in
revolution and a revolution in evolution!

When finishing the discussion of how important leaders and leadership are to
different organizations, different causes, and different groups, Arana Rao and David
Kelleher eloquently contribute by saying that the forces of the status quo are very
powerful; the daily pressures to play the game by the rales are overwhelming. We
must develop a greater understanding of the conditions needed to start and sustain
social transformation. We must build managerial efficiency with leadership for
change, not at the expense of it. To do this in practical ways, addressing the pressing
challenges that the world faces today, is the task in hand (Rao & Kelleher, 2000).
We can change the world, and some of us do help this transformational goal on a
daily basis, many of us can lead in many different ways, and hopefully many of us
The current change, evolution, or revolution in one sentence, is this: most
barriers to group action have collapsed, and without those barriers, we are free to
explore new ways of gathering together and getting things done (Shirky, 2008, p.22).
Good leadership will still be sought after whether for organizational purposes or for
Individual and group action gives human society its particular character, and
anything that changes the way individual and groups get things done will affect
society as a whole. On the other hand, we can also see the relevance and importance
of furthering the research issue concerning NGO leaders and leadership. As studied
throughout this work, leaders as initiators do share several characteristics that

enhance the influence and dedication some of these leaders have adopted to achieve
their goals. They achieve those goals as initiators of NGOs, of campaigns, and as
active change initiators by being educated, visionary, charismatic, dedicated,
democratic, and ethical people. Most of these initiating leaders have experienced, first
hand, the same issues they are fighting against. These leaders make it a personal
motivational point to do something about these injustices and social causes, and many
create different NGOs dedicated to the eradication of these global social problems,
and for the advancement of society in positive, fair, and progressive ways. These
leaders become part of the solution and influence many others to do the same. These
initiators also give a voice to those in need, those underrepresented, those who have
been victims, and those who want to make a difference as well. Without these
visionary, caring, educated, and charismatic figures the world would definitely be a
much different place. Governments, criminals, abusers, politicians, and interest
groups would go unchallenged without any pressure to correct social wrongdoings or
raise awareness about real and unfortunate social issues.
A major (non-research-oriented) underlying theme throughout this work is
also about change: positive meaningful change; about demonstrating that we CAN be
part of the solution; that these leaders (as initiators or not) do help create social
change; that we can all contribute, whether we consider ourselves leaders or not; that
even as followers we can have a great influence. We need change that will eradicate

disassociation from the issues and/or problems that do not affect us personally.
Change has to happen, otherwise there would be no progress.
As Clay Shirley points out this change will not be limited to any particular set
of institutions or functions. For any given cause, organization, or issue the most
important questions are: When will the change happen? And, what will change? The
only two answers we CAN rule out are NEVER and NOTHING (Shirky, 2008,
Limitations and Future Concerns
Future concerns abound and these concerns are also an important part of
research related to this issue of leadership and NGOs. Even with the belief in group
activism not needing leadership through new media and technological channels, in the
end many of us can easily revert to our stereotypical situation when as babies we
thought we were invincible and after we fell off the bicycle we immediately looked
around for support and guidance from our guardian, parent, or leadership figure.
Coordination, organization, human will, and dedication are wonderful human traits
that have sponsored many social changes, but these traits should not be compared to
the complementary aspect of teaching, guiding, and leading these and future social
changes. It can also be pointed out that the manipulation of ideological resources has
also been considered as an important basis for leadership as a whole (Della Porta &
Diani, 1999, p.142).

Once again, even though I was only able to draw very few lessons from this
study, these leaders are influential and with or without the technological development
and the many modem needs for these leaders to play a role as initiators, the need for
leadership will be present for many different groups and many different causes. In the
end, many people also think that experts have replaced ideologists in contemporary
movements (Della Porta & Diani, 1999, p.142). Can this be the end for leaders? Can
this conceptualization of a leader and his/her effects on an NGO, other organizations,
or any other cause be replaced by political think-tanks who are considered experts?
These are the futuristic notions that need to be explored within the discussion of
leadership and NGOs and I do sincerely hope that I can be part of this ongoing
research field in the future, as well as be part of the solutions to our many social
Everybody loves progress, but nobody likes change Mark Twain.

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