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Understanding Political Leadership

Key information

Subject area:

Public Policy, Politics & Security

Course type:

Executive Education

Credit level:


Credit value:



4 weeks

Available course dates:

To be confirmed

Course overview

This module seeks to expand the thinking of students about leadership in the political context. It analyses select situations and leadership experiences to understand how the associated leadership processes shaped the outcomes for the target societies. Students are provided an opportunity to interrogate key leadership concepts and address issues that are often conflated in popular literature and in the practice of leadership (e.g., the commonplace practice of using the notions “leaders” and “leadership”, interchangeably).

In practice, leaders, particularly political leaders, navigate formal institutional processes as well as fluid societal spaces. Political leaders’ bases of social power in this dynamic context must be balanced intricately with their roles in formal institutional spaces. However, the exchange of influence between leaders and followers in both spaces are rarely in sync.

The module draws theoretical and practical lessons from published works from and experiences of select political leaders from across several regions of the world to answer questions such as: How do leaders influence the larger goal of change within the society? Or, how do they remain influential in driving change within and outside political institutions? The module aims to transform students’ perspectives on the study and practice of leadership by offering a framework through which to analyse a range of leadership experiences in responding to challenges in the political context. The module engages critically with the relevant leadership literature and interacts with the documented experiences of select global leaders who have attempted to address contemporary challenges in their national, regional, or global context.

What does this course cover?

Week 1: The complexity of leadership

In this first week we will focus on key factors and themes that illustrate the complexity of leadership. To do this, we will examine a variety of contexts in which political leadership is exercised globally and analyze a conceptual framework for analyzing political leadership.

Week 2: Leadership and shifting contexts

What are the key leadership themes evident in political situations across different contexts? This is what we will be exploring in this second week through the analysis of the leadership process in response to key political events or crisis situations.

Week 3: Understanding leadership

In this final week, we will assess the factors of emergence and effectiveness in the experiences of leaders in different political contexts. What is the interaction between person and processed based leadership? What gender differences in the styles and experiences of political leaders manifest across socio-cultural contexts?

What will I achieve?

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Become more culturally competent with a potential to step outside of one’s worldview and to view situations through the lens of others – thus possessing the ability to thrive in any socio-cultural context.
  • Possess new analytical tools that will support one’s leadership decisions in a variety of situations. 
  • Embed a global mindset in approaches to problem solving.

Who will I learn with?

'Funmi  Olonisakin

'Funmi Olonisakin

Vice President (International, Engagement & Service)

Olga Siemers

Olga Siemers

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Who is this for?

This short course is for mid-career professionals. Standard entry requirements are a 2:1 degree plus 3 years of relevant work experience. Applicants without a 2:1 or higher degree are welcome to apply and typically require 5+ years of relevant work experience.

How will I be assessed?

One written assignment, plus participation in webinars and discussion forums.

Our modules offer high levels of interaction with regular points of assessment and feedback. Each four week module is worth five Master's level academic credits and includes three webinars with a King's lecturer and peer group of global professionals.

What is the teaching schedule?

Format: Fully online, plus 3 x 1-hour weekly webinars

This module has been designed specifically for an online audience. It uses a range of interactive activities to support learning including discussion forums, online readings, interactive lectures videos and online tutorials.

Fees and discounts

Tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Further information

Module Creator

Professor Funmi Olonisakin, Vice-President and Vice-Principal International; Professor of Security, Leadership & Development. Funmi is a founding member of the African Leadership Centre (ALC), which aims to build the next generation of African scholars generating cutting edge knowledge for security and development in Africa; and was Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s College London (2003 to 2013). Prior to this, she worked in the Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

Please note that this is only indicative information. Lecturers and course content are subject to change. Please contact us directly for the most recent information.

Course status:

Course closed

Full fee £950

Discounts available

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