Leadership in Conflict

Executive Summary
Intellectual and personal development seminars and workshops designed to hone and develop new generations of leaders committed to such basic, yet important values as integrity, honesty and responsibility are an important means to generate dialogue with and among leaders from conflict and post-conflict zones. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to build a network of individuals and organizations united by the desire to develop and help implement solutions that can effectively address risk to individual and public interests in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Background
Over the past decade, the world has seen the proliferation and intensification of violent conflict around the globe. With developments in conflict zones constantly in flux and little if any institutionalization of social, political and economic processes, leaders in all sectors of society have a particular responsibility as they very often provide the only kind of stability, direction and orientation for their countries and populations. However, in the overwhelming majority of the countries experiencing, threatened by, or recovering from, violent conflict there is a crucial lack of experienced leaders. This lack of leadership exacerbates volatile situations and contributes further to human suffering and to local, regional and global instability. Developing leaders and improving and honing their skills to prevail in adverse conditions is therefore a key contribution towards stabilizing conflict and post-conflict zones and contributing to the creation of conditions conducive to long-term peace and security. Intellectual and personal development seminars and workshops designed to hone and develop new generations of leaders committed to such basic, yet important values as integrity, honesty and responsibility are an important means to generate dialogue with and among leaders from conflict and post-conflict zones. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to build a network of individuals and organizations united by the desire to develop and help implement solutions that can effectively address risk to individual and public interests in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Approach
Our programme will provide a safe and thought-provoking environment to explore different issues and questions and to develop trust and commonality for current and potential leaders from conflict and post-conflict zones. Emphasis will be placed on a non-confrontational style, focusing on a balance of texts and issues being discussed and thus contributing meaningfully and practically to further leadership development among the participants and enhancing skills that are particularly relevant for the conflict and post-conflict zones to whose improvement they are ultimately to contribute.

Objectives
Our leadership development programme has two types of objectives:

  1. Emphasis will be placed on empowering participants to reach, and succeed at, the next level in their careers, and on honing their existing, and developing new, intellectual and leadership skills. The programme will also focus on establishing informal channels of communication between people who face very difficult, public, and impactful choices on a regular basis and providing possible mechanisms of future dialogue and negotiation after completion of the program.
  2. The second type of objectives relates to understanding and managing of the concrete challenges that occur in conflict and post-conflict environments. This will offer an opportunity to increase the skills and abilities of participants to rise to, and overcome, these challenges more effectively. In order to make the most of this opportunity, the leadership development programme will be complemented by opportunities bringing together programme participants with politicians, policy makers, representatives of the private sector and NGOs to discuss the challenges specific to conflict and post-conflict environments. This mentoring component will also provide an opportunity for a bi-directional learning process, acknowledging that leaders from such often hostile environments bring their own valuable knowledge, skills and experiences to the table that can prove useful for ‘outsiders’ in their decision-making processes about the nature and extent of the involvement they wish to have with conflict and post-conflict zones.

Selection of Participants
Participants will be selected based on their past accomplishments, current position, and their future potential as leaders: problem solvers, people with influence and voice in their respective sectors and with a clear and long-term perspective as leaders of their community and beyond.

The programme will seek to attract representatives of different sectors, genders, age groups, cultures and political persuasions, from different conflict and post-conflict zones around the world, considering as well the likelihood of their getting along with one another within a group of upwards of ten people of roughly similar status, standing and age.

The Specific Nature of Conflict and Post-conflict Environments
For the long-term success of this initiative, it is important to protect the integrity and future of its participants. The participants’ background in conflict and post-conflict environments requires extra care to be taken not only in the process of selection but also in the implementation of the program. These include avoiding publicity and exposure of participants, minimizing the potential for distrust building up against them in their own communities (potentially leading to persecution or marginalization) and taking all reasonable precautions against abuse of relationships built in the cause of the program. At the same time, one must be realistic about the impact that the programme can have—there is no guarantee that productive relationships will be formed or can be sustained.

Programme Structure and Content
There will be three consecutive days of activities in one single programme event, comprising seminar-style discussions, introductory talks followed by group work, opportunities for independent thought and individual reflection, and one-on-one discussions with programme staff (mentors). This will provide participants with a compact, high-intensity programme focused on three specific themes and creating opportunities to develop a sense of community and to foster a good degree of group cohesion, which will be essential for the formation and sustaining of relationships.

  • Day 1: Arrival – opening dinner
  • Day 2: The Characteristics of Leadership
  • Day 3: The Challenges of Leadership in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments
  • Day 4: Leadership in Context
  • Day 5: Departure

The Characteristics of Leadership. This text-based seminar-style discussion focuses on the qualities of leadership necessary to master the forces of change. Programme participants will then discuss in smaller groups the challenges that they personally face, including opportunities to talk individually with programme staff. The day concludes with a session to develop criteria for effective leadership.

The Challenges of Leadership in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments. This seminar-style discussion, building on the more general deliberations of the previous day, seeks to enable participants to identify the specific skills necessary to meet the challenges of providing leadership in the difficult environment of conflict and post-conflict situations. In small groups and in individual sessions with programme staff, participants will have the opportunity to assess their own skills (and skill deficits) and talk about ways in which they can further enhance skills that they have and acquire those that they might lack.

Leadership in Context. Focused on enhancing participants’ skills in relation to one key challenge of conflict and post-conflict settings—consensus-building—the last day of the programme takes the form of a highly inter-active workshop, giving participants an opportunity to explore different approaches to consensus-building, share their own experiences of success and failure, and discuss pertinent issues with all programme staff, including in small groups and individually. A wrap-up session will conclude the day and the official program.