Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa

Transform Your Leadership Now

“If you are a motivated leader – committed to your own and Africa’s future – Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa is for you.”


We live in an era of accelerating change, uncertainty and unprecedented complexity. Organizational strategies today will be obsolete — if not self-defeating — tomorrow. Success requires agile leadership and visionary communication.

That is why the Graduate School of Media and Communications at the Aga Khan University (AKU GSMC) is proud to offer a seminal opportunity to sharpen two of the most vital skills – leadership and communication demanded by these challenging times.

Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa comprises two world class courses.

Adaptive Leadership for Africa: Chaos, Complexity and Courage, delivered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (HKS), Executive Education, helps top executives exercise leadership amid uncertainty with dexterity and purpose.

The Voice of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence and Impact, delivered by AKU GSMC, empowers leaders to communicate and act with clarity, vision and authenticity. The fundamental premise: the success of any initiative or enterprise depends, more than ever before, on high-quality, maximum-impact communication. Executives who fail to recognize this imperative will be left behind.

Last year we welcomed a highly diverse cohort of senior leaders — from business, government, civil society and media. Once again, we are delighted to offer this unique suite of courses that will transform your leadership.

Alex O. Awiti
Vice Provost and Interim Dean,
Graduate School of Media and Communications,
The Aga Khan University

Can You Inspire Others?

Transforming Leadership for the 21st Century Africa will challenge your thinking and decision making by enhancing your leadership and communication styles, in both your personal and professional life.

This program will help you:

  • Explore modern and proven techniques in leadership and communication.
  • Develop insights for strengthening your leadership and communication styles.
  • Understand how to address complex longterm organizational challenges.
  • Discover tools to powerfully communicate with peers and direct reports.
  • Be part of a global network.

Our Network

Who Should Apply?

Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa is an opportunity for you to grow as you re-examine your leadership and communication styles in a global context.

This program is right for you if:

  • You are a proven or emerging leader in a public, corporate or non-profit organization.
  • You are responsible for leading others and making mission-critical decisions.
  • You wish to enhance your leadership and communication styles.
  • You want to learn from a global leader in executive training.
  • You seek to accelerate your personal and/or organizational growth.

Chaos, Complexity and Courage

Brought to you by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Executive Education, this course offers a transformative opportunity to learn how to exercise leadership with more courage, skill and effectiveness.

While most leadership development courses focus on building a distinct set of skills and tactics, Adaptive Leadership for Africa pushes you to think seriously about your deepest assumptions and most strongly held values.

By looking beyond quick-fix, short-term solutions, you will gain the tools and knowledge necessary to address the competing commitments, strategies and loyalties within your own organization and community. Through lectures and group discussions, the curriculum will focus on:

  • Exercising leadership with and without authority.
  • The distinction between “technical” problems and “adaptive” challenges.
  • Analyzing and managing the dynamics that impede progress.
  • Unlocking individual and group creativity.
  • Distinguishing “self” and “role” in the exercise of leadership.
  • Translating purpose and commitment into effectiveness.
  • The centrality of purpose to the activity of leadership.
  • The characteristics of effective intervention.

Inspiration, Influence and Impact

Offered by the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications, this module will show you how to compellingly communicate your vision, mission, and purpose, as well as how to engage your colleagues/team and maximize your impact.

The Voice of Leadership explores the intersection of communication and leadership. Participants will learn that effective leadership and crisp, clear, emotionally engaging communication go hand-in-hand in this age of overwhelming information, relentless social media and ever-shorter attention spans.

Showcasing the expertise of AKU GSMC’s world-class faculty, the course uses case studies, discussions and presentations to help you to find your voice as a leader, build trust, motivate your teams and address the needs of key stakeholders.

Sessions will include:

  • Communicating your vision and strategy with clarity and power.
  • Communicating for influence.
  • Using emotional intelligence to connect and lead.
  • Understanding your leadership and communication styles.
  • Using storytelling as a leadership tool.
  • Effectively engaging the media.
  • Communicating in the midst of conflict.

Learn From The Best

Faculty Chair,
Adaptive Leadership for Africa

Hugh O’Doherty is Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He has taught leadership and conflict resolution at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the University of Maryland, where he directed the Ireland-US Public Leadership Program for “emerging” leaders from all the political parties in Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, O’Doherty directed the Inter-Group Relations Project, an initiative bringing together political and community leaders in Ireland to establish protocols for political dialogue.

He has consulted extensively with a variety of clients. O’Doherty has also consulted in Bosnia, Croatia, and Cyprus, and has addressed the UN Global Forum on Re-Inventing Government.

Application Procedure

Plan, prepare and apply

We recommend that you take your time planning your application. Follow the application checklist and ensure you have provided all information required. Please prepare your essay responses in advance of submitting your application. The application form allows you to save progress made on your application. When you are ready to apply , click the “Apply Now” link. Please allot approximately 60 minutes to complete your application.


Application Checklist

Personal information Your updated CV
Work information Number of employees in your organization
Number of employees under your direct supervision
Annual operating budget of your organization
Essay responses At your current position, what are your specific duties and responsibilities? Please describe your organization in terms of functions or services provided. If you are an elected official, please describe your committee assignments or size of jurisdiction.

  • Demonstrates professional competence
  • Demonstrates a position of leadership or leadership potential
  • Demonstrates experience with influencing stakeholders and affecting change in complex organizations
Please describe the most significant leadership challenges of your work and how participation in this program will help you to address these challenges.

  • Demonstrates experience with adaptive leadership challenges
  • Demonstrates passion for strong and effective leadership
  • Demonstrates understanding of the distinction between leadership and authority
Describe areas where you would like to strengthen your communication expertise with internal and external stakeholders.

  • Demonstrates self-awareness through reflection on strengths and weaknesses in approaches to communication
  • Demonstrates passion for strong and effective communication
  • Demonstrates thoughtful and introspective analysis with respect to past communication challenges
  • Demonstrates understanding of the link between effective leadership and effective communication
Please describe your immediate and long-term career goals. How will attending this program help to achieve them?

  • Demonstrates self-awareness through reflection on strengths and weaknesses
  • Demonstrates leadership aspirations
  • Demonstrates high levels of ambition and motivation
  • Demonstrates linkage between content/objectives of this program and long term career goals
Please describe the professional development areas you would be interested in pursuing in the future.


Submit your application

When your application is complete, click on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the application form.

After submitting your application, you will receive an email confirmation that your application has been submitted. Please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation email.

Programs often fill to capacity, so early application is recommended, however, early application does not guarantee admission.


Notification of Acceptance

Admission to this program is based on your experience and range of responsibility. There is no formal educational requirement, but fluency in written and spoken English is a necessity for the program.

Qualified candidates are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis, and the program often fills to capacity.

Once the review process has begun, applicants are typically notified within three weeks via email regarding Admissions Committee decisions.



Once you have received notification of acceptance, you must ensure that full payment is received to guarantee admittance.

Payment is accepted in KES or USD. We accept these forms of payment:

  • Direct transfer to AKU bank account
  • Credit/debit card payment (at the AKU GSMC premises)
  • M-PESA payment

Unfortunately we cannot accept cash payments.

Apply Now

Key Details

Date: September 20-25, November 8-11, 2020

Cost: USD 7,500

Faculty: Delivered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Executive Education; and by The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications

Certifications: Upon successful completion of Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa, participants will be awarded a certificate for Adaptive Leadership for Africa: Chaos Complexity and Courage by the HKS Executive Education, and a certificate for The Voice of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence and Impact by the AKU GSMC. To be awarded these certificates, participants must successfully complete the full suite of offerings.