Close this search box.

5 Types Of Transformative Leaders

5 Types of Transformative Leaders

In my previous article, I argued that leadership that seeks to bring transformation needs to be anchored to a place. No matter where we exercise leadership, whether in business, in family, or in the church – we are more effective when we are firmly rooted in a particular geographical context, and committed to a long-term vision.

In this article, I expand on the five types of leadership that could bring transformation to Africa.

1. Community fathers and mothers

These are men and women who have an exceptional love for a particular place. They serve as the ‘glue’ and points of convergence for all others forms of leadership, and the community at large. Two historical examples that readily come to mind are Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf[1] in Germany and Hans Nielsen Hauge[2] in Norway.

These community fathers and mothers serve as the ‘people of peace’ in a community, who can open up a community to change. In agriculture, for example, the most significant way of introducing new and improved practices is by getting a leading farmer to provide space on his land to demonstrate these practices. In essence, community fathers and mothers give God a door into their communities. They are often the first to welcome what God wants to do, and from them it spreads to many more people. They are able to cast God’s vision for their communities. As it is written, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed” (Proverbs 29:18, MSG).

Whether they have legal authority or not, they serve as a kind of ‘conscience’ to the community, so that people do not become lawless. These men and women do not mind who takes the public recognition, as long as God takes His rightful place in their communities. Therefore, they are willing and able to work with every other leader that God raises up in their communities.

2. Theologian-philosophers

Every place has its peculiar nuances, and somehow the eternal truth of God’s Word needs to find expression in a specific historical and geographical context. “So then faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). We need leaders who are focused on understanding, building and describing the ‘soul of a community’. For example, Paul Graham (one of the early engineer-philosophers of Silicon Valley) comments:

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message you could do more, you should try harder. The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all – you should make more money. [For] Boston (or rather Cambridge)… the message there is you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to. When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers…[3]

Cities have souls based on what the majority of people believe they represent. Generally though only a few people give them their souls, and by diffusion others simply accept it to be so. For this reason, we need leaders who are intentional about what the souls of our communities say. It is a sacred task.

Michael Natelli writes beautifully about Nashville, Tennessee:

Something special is happening in Nashville… I’ve lived in the area either part- or full-time for about eight years a story that’s common in these parts. And in that time, I’ve met countless couples who have saved their marriages, parents who’ve seen children healed of terminal diagnoses, and individuals who’ve broken the chains of a lifetime of crippling anxiety or depression… It seemed like a place where miracles happen.[4]

This resonates deeply with me as I think about Ogbomoso, my home city, which has sought to craft a new narrative for its transformation for more than a decade. Other modern-day examples of ‘theologian-philosophers’ who have been able to shape the way believers engage their communities through clearly written or spoken treatises are the late Timothy Keller, author of Every Good Endeavor and previously pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, and Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making and partner for Theology and Culture at Praxis.

3. Marketplace visionaries

This type of leader builds and leads entrepreneurial endeavours in the marketplace. They are committed to seeing their communities flourish through business. They recognise how deeply entrenched the conventional ways of doing business are, but they also know that through business they are able to create new goods and services that gradually affect the prevailing culture. As Andy Crouch shares:

“If we want to transform culture, what we actually have to do is to get into the midst of the human cultural project and create some new cultural goods that reshape the way people imagine and experience their world… We seek the transformation of every culture but how we do it is by actually making culture.”[5]

Silicon Valley is an exceptional example of how culture is shaped in our times. It has epitomised the good, the bad and the ugly of startup culture. The foundational entrepreneurs and tech whizzes created cultural goods that soon got into the hands of millions of people. Undoubtedly, not only their products were distributed – their worldviews were also adopted worldwide.

Looking to history for another example, the Clapham Sect[6] and William Wilberforce comes to mind. Beyond their anti-slavery activism, they were involved in various business endeavours. Many were successful entrepreneurs who invested in banking, insurance, and shipping – using the profits to fund their social and religious projects. Their impact extended beyond their immediate time and place as their efforts helped shape public opinion and influenced the trajectory of social reform in Britain.

4. Intercessors

Place cannot be transformed without much prayer. Many of us know of the evangelist Charles G. Finney.[7] However, Finney viewed prevailing prayer as essential to his revival campaigns, and he would only arrive after Father Nash had gone ahead to prepare the place and people through weeks of intercessory prayer.

Of the great revival in Rochester, “Finney said that the key which unlocked the Heavens in this revival was the prayer of Clary, Father Nash, and other unnamed folk who laid themselves prostrate before God’s throne and besought Him for a divine outpouring.” [8]

We have read of men such as John ‘Praying’ Hyde[9] whose watchword as he travailed in prayer for India was, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night…” (Isaiah 62:6–7).4 And God honoured his cry. We can recall the women behind the Hebrides Revival, whose prayers were answered when God sent Duncan Campbell[10] to their island.

In 1949, two old women named Peggy and Christine Smith, one of them 84 years of age and the other 82 were greatly burdened because of the state of the body of Christ in their community These women took it upon themselves to pray until revival comes. They spent hours in prayer, sometimes praying from 10pm to 3am or 4am in their little cottage.[11]

Intercessors anchored to place help to bring God’s will to bear on their entire communities.

5. Mission-driven financiers

One of the most powerful forms of place-anchored leadership is that of financiers who commit mission-driven resources to a community over the long term. For example, Demos Shakarian[12] was a successful entrepreneur and the founder of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, who used his organisational abilities to facilitate many evangelistic campaigns, and played a key role in launching Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) .

Bringing this to contemporary times and the advent of venture capital, imagine we had dedicated funds committed to investing in communities – instead of companies. Surely, the other four types of leadership in those communities would know how best the funds are to be disbursed to achieve God’s purposes in their communities.

Although king David knew he wouldn’t live to see the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, he was diligent in storing up a significant portion of what was needed to fulfil the purpose of God:

Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God. Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my Godin abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house (2 Chronicles 29:13, emphasis mine).

We need men and women who are willing to not only commit their hearts but also their resources to place.

 A summons

In the previous article, I mentioned that there are 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. With a population of 213.4 million, we have a population to local government ratio of 260 000:1. Now, imagine that we have 24–48 people per local government who fit the descriptions above and who are committed to these places over long periods of time (10–30 years).

Can you imagine the depth and breadth of transformation our communities will experience? Now, imagine this across all the countries of Africa? What do you see? This is a vision the Lord has branded on my heart and I cannot wait to see the day we arise all across Africa in whichever of these capacities, to secure our villages, towns and cities for God and Him alone!


Jesudamilare ‘JD’ Adesegun-David is a co-founder of Ennovate Lab and Executive Director of Qeola. He works with corporates, universities and governments to build innovation ecosystems in underserved regions in Africa and helps founders build impactful startups.


[1] Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was the leader of the Moravian Christians who lived in Herrnhut in the 1700s. He was critical of slavery and provided shelter to exiles and refugees. In 1727 (when he was 27) the community started a 24/7 “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a 100 years. By 1791, that small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.

[2] Hauge’s passion for God and the transformation of his country sparked a wave of spiritual fervour that empowered lay believers, prompted social reforms, contributed to economic growth, and advanced education in Norway. His legacy as a spiritual leader, social reformer, and entrepreneur continues to inspire and influence generations of Norwegians.




[6] The Clapham Sect was group of evangelical Christian social reformers active in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The group derived its name from Clapham, a neighbourhood in London and was predominantly made up of wealthy and influential individuals. Their work contributed to the abolition of slavery, the improvement of labour conditions, the promotion of education and missionary work, and the advance of moral and ethical standards within society. One of the most definitive accounts of their lives and exploits is The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforce’s Circle Transformed Britain by Stephen Tomkins.

[7] Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875) was an American Presbyterian minister and leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States. His religious views led him, together with several other evangelical leaders, to promote social reforms, such as abolitionism and equal education for women and African Americans.






Jesudamilare ‘JD’ Adesegun-David is a co-founder of Ennovate Lab and Executive Director of Qeola. He works with corporates, universities and governments to build innovation ecosystems in underserved regions in Africa and helps founders build impactful startups.

Jesudamilare Adesegun-David

Would you like to contribute to our content?
Let us know if you would like to contribute to the growing thought leadership and testimony base.