Leverage Conflicting Views in Peace & Security
In September 2015, CCL and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy launched an alliance for advancing leadership in peace and security, and it stems from the growing recognition of 2 fundamental development concepts related to international peace and security:
- The forces and dynamics impacting peace and security are far broader than traditionally addressed. These include, for example: migration, resource scarcity, non-state actors, global health challenges, and corruption, as well as economic development, social entrepreneurship, pervasive technological innovation in communication, macro- and micro-finance, cyber security, ubiquitous (social) media, and information access.
- Rapid, unpredictable change and disruption are always present. The stakeholders and leading International Organizations (IOs) required for collaboration to advance peace and security in this broader context face a widening, yet more tightly connected complex of interwoven actors and situations, all undergoing disruptive change.
As the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Institutional Governance Systems recently summarized:
“Over the last two decades, the world has suffered from a global governance deficit. This deficit comprises a lack of… adequate mechanisms to deal with issues of international peace and security; satisfactory mechanisms to anticipate and counter global economic shocks; and effective instruments to ensure important global public goods, not least in critical areas such as climate change and public health…..[However] no transformative overhaul of international institutions should be expected in the foreseeable future [and] there is one aspect where incremental reform seems not only necessary, but feasible: in the leadership of international organizations.
Why Leadership? Effective leadership in international agencies is crucial: the world relies on these organizations to ease cooperation — whether in ensuring pandemics are constrained, mail is delivered to foreign countries, or citizens can fly safely to other countries.”
CCL and GCSP are uniquely equipped with innovative talent, cutting-edge knowledge, and aligned missions and values to address the development of leaders in IOs.
Traditional business schools fare poorly in these kinds of contexts. One cannot simply port over leadership training from business, military, or diplomacy schools and expect it to stick.
Since September 2015, the Leadership Alliance has been piloting and equipping this audience — more than 380 senior leaders in the peace and security realm from 83 countries thus far — with unique developmental experiences.
What We’re Learning
As my colleague and co-Director Peter Cunningham notes: “When you have senior leaders from diverse contexts like Iraq, Switzerland, North Korea, Germany, the U.S., Sweden, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Canada, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Indonesia, France, Belgium, the D.R.C., Nigeria, etc., coming from organizations as diverse as Care International, Military Commands, Foreign Affairs Ministries, the U.N., the International Organization for Migration, etc. — all of whom are there to learn about ‘leading collaboration in international contexts’ — you never really know what will emerge, except that it is powerful experience for everyone.”
We are innovating new ways to incorporate peace and security contexts that go beyond a VUCA (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex, & Ambiguous) framework to recognizing contextual relativity in history/time/speed, and paradoxes of forces, views, and actions — as well as the general interconnected nature of these contexts.
Working with CCL’s David Magellan-Horth, we’re using the “RUPT” (Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, & Tangled) descriptor, which lifts sights, thinking, and action into new realms of learning.
Collaborating with world-class designers and thinkers like Dr. Geoff Cox and Barry Johnson, we are infusing events with interactive frameworks that bring participant content to the table from Day 1.
In this context, we actively work with every “elephant in the room.”
Cross-cultural, conflicting views must be leveraged, not just acknowledged. History, religion, and even trauma are often present, so exercises and sharing need to be innovative and meaningful — not trivial.
We skillfully engage with leading external experts to contextualize everything and collaborate on content and experiences with participants, not for them.
When talking about leadership, you run into so much culturally-grounded diversity it can only inform everyone, and our role is to open up, rather than close down, around such diversity of perspective.
This lays the foundation for personal transformation in an accelerated and stimulating fashion.
Moreover, we cannot just design-and-implement. We must also test-and-adjust throughout the event.
We prioritize design-thinking in action, yet utilize the latest research available from CCL’s research team and other leading institutions.
And it’s working. Immediately following one of the Leadership Alliance’s recent programs, we recorded a 50% positive shift in self-reported capacity development.
- What happens after the pilots? We believe that our test-and-adjust approach complements our RUPT world, where most everything is a pilot learning event evolving through various iterations rather than becoming standardized.
- Our future? Our most challenging goal is to adapt these processes to engage and bridge networks of senior leaders in IOs with emerging leaders (such as the Young African Leadership Initiative, the Middle East Leadership Academy, ASEAN young leaders, and others in Europe and the Americas), and engage them in substance-focused areas including innovation, peace-building, sports & development, and anti-corruption.
This vision brings a whole new inclusiveness and interconnection to “global leading.” And the opportunity to lead better is infinite.