Leadership — CANVAS



“One of the biggest misconceptions when you look to social change is that social movements demand strong leaders.”

Srdja Popovic, from Leadership and Nonviolent Movements, an interview by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Leadership is the process of influencing, motivating, and enabling individuals and groups to achieve goals. Leaders animate and influence the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary.

The role of leadership in nonviolent conflict is twofold: to make decisions that will shape the conflict, and to serve as the rallying point and source of inspiration, courage, and clarity of purpose for the movement. Great political religious, and social leaders throughout history have generally all shared three important characteristics: a vision for the future, strength of personality, and self control.

There is no universal model of successful leadership in strategic nonviolent conflict. History teaches us that both individual and group leadership may be successful or unsuccessful, depending on the conditions of the particular struggle. That means that for your movement, the choice of leadership structure is up to you – be strategic!

To learn more about the role of leadership in a movement, and to study seven principles of effective leadership, see the CANVAS Core Curriculum, pp. 131-141.