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Positive changes through leadership development


The challenges of leadership are constantly evolving, and modernized leadership and management of the Organization was one of the expected outcomes of the Strategic Transformation process.

The Senior Leadership Development Programme was developed for participants to build their competencies in the practical aspects of leadership and has to-date been delivered for almost 70 of the Organization’s leaders from both the field and Headquarters, between November 2019 and February 2020. 

Leaders were encouraged to think about how to engage others in creating a vision and how to lead them through the changes to be implemented.  They were provided with opportunities to bring the necessary communication and other skills to life, and to experiment with them.

Thinking about the communication methods

Some aspects stood out as being particularly appreciated by the participants, such as the use of the Peer Learning Group methodology as a mechanism for individual and group learning. 

The peer and small group learning enabled us to discuss specific challenges and to find together solutions not only for the basic issue, but also to look at the way we approach the problem, including the interpersonal dimension

Paul Coustère, Deputy Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning

The Peer Learning Groups also saw participants put into practice effective listening and “pull” type communication methods, leading to an increased awareness of the benefits of open dialogue and curiosity.  These principles also support the agile approach, which was recently put into practice by the Education Sector. 

Leading through challenging times

The COVID-19 crisis came shortly after the leadership workshop for all the participants, presenting unprecedented leadership challenges.  An online learning community provided a useful vehicle for sharing materials on topics related to the programme, and to some of the particular issues of leading during these challenging times.

Many really trigger insight and in my case, action

Pilar Alvarez-Lasco, Director, Port-au-Prince describing the resources that were shared.

Participants started the 5-day programme by completing a 360° feedback process, providing an opportunity for self-assessment and increasing self-awareness through receiving feedback from peers and direct reports in addition to supervisors.  The process, managed by an external provider to ensure full confidentiality, was based on a questionnaire structured around the key topics of the programme, which were shaped by feedback from the Organization’s Global Staff Survey in 2018, and by the United Nations System Leadership Framework.  


An individual coaching session ensured that participants gained insight and took a reflective approach to the 360° feedback, considering what it told them about how their leadership style was perceived by others and how they could use that increased awareness.   The training covered topics such as change management, coaching, and managing conflict. The workshop was built around a range of learning methodologies to keep the learning process dynamic and enable participants to engage with the issues in different settings.