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This article proposes that an effective activist leadership model has important significance for leaders in ethically challenging contexts. Findings from the grounded theory study present activist leadership theory and competencies or qualities exhibited by “activist leaders” in the public sector. These support the achievement of “above-the-norm” organizational performance despite the constraints of weak governance institutions within their specified contexts. Activist leadership rests on leaders’ (a) managerial and personal approach; (b) cognitive disposition to achieving good governance outcomes; and (c) pragmatic leadership approach to resolving leadership challenges in weak institutional contexts. These leaders can deliver effective leadership despite weak institutional/governance frameworks, not by using a specific leadership technique, but rather by manifesting their own personal convictions for achieving results. Implications for Christian leaders in challenging contexts are discussed.