Advancing Leadership in Peace and Security - IEDP
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Advancing Leadership in Peace and Security

Developing leaders for the the security services


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Events in the last month have reminded everyone how fragile our security can be and how horrific frightfully common acts in the Middle East, North and sub-Saharan Africa and other flashpoints in fact challenge leadership everywhere.

The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) stimulates innovative thinking and provides executive development for organizations involved directly and indirectly with these critical global challenges, from government and military officials to diplomats, NGO officers and corporate executives. The GCSP is an international foundation, established and predominantly funded by the Swiss Federal government, but with support from 48 member states including the five permanent members of UN security council. It has been providing a forum for development and discussion since 1995 as part of Switzerland’s nonmilitary and neutral engagement with NATO, and has since evolved to cover a multi-national and multi-cultural remit, bringing together empowered individuals from a diverse breadth of countries in often unlikely combinations working and learning together in the same room.

As part of its continuing efforts to increase the scale of impact of leadership capability in organizations tasked with improving global security, GCSP has teamed up with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) to launch the Alliance for Advancing Leadership in Peace & Security, which will build on CCL’s long-experience in producing large, multi-level development programs with the GCSPs expertise in security and peace issues. The two have been discussing the co-creation of scalable initiatives, and testing different approaches and content with GCSP stakeholders for two years, and in November launched the Leadership Alliance as a platform to co-create and co-produce innovative approaches and methods to advance leading practices in these communities.

Patrick Sweet, Ph.D and Peter Cunningham, Co-Directors of the Alliance, have been strongly encouraged by stakeholders who recognize this collaboration as being a promising way to increase impact in a sector that has traditionally valued technical expertise over leadership capability. But they are under no illusion as to the scale of their task. “We are encouraged by others to breakdown silos across the sector, and use development programs as a lever to build bridges between institutions and communities, spanning international and cultural boundaries.”

There is recognition in the international policy sector that it is itself less experienced in developing leadership mindsets than in the corporate world; and part of the Leadership Alliance’s challenge is to further develop impactful and workable formats for development for this community, over the work they already provide. “There are distinct differences between the corporate and this sector” notes Cunningham, “for instance the modular approach that we see in the corporate world where executives attend two to three weeks of programs over a nine-month blended course provides a challenge to address complex issues like peace and security which requires time to contextualize and integrate. One challenge is to take the depth of a master’s programme and effectively extrude and integrate its essence into a modular approach.”

Sweet adds that “the leadership requirements for people tackling these multilateral challenges are often quite different to those typically seen in corporations. There are many more instances of people having to influence without explicit authority, and trying to negotiate in multi-layered networks across many kinds of boundaries and with NGOs – all of which requires differing skill sets and approaches than are regularly developed on corporate leadership programs, where lines of authority are more clearly defined. In an interesting way there is also opportunity for private sector learning from this sector as well, and the effort will advance the capabilities of both as well as the practice of leadership itself.”

The definition of security that GCSP attends to is broader than just tackling political and military considerations. It includes engaging with major global issues such as cyber security, curbing violent extremism, political transitions, and the extension of democracy in places like Myanmar. Patrick Sweet says that the major challenge for the Alliance is going to be in finding ways to develop scalability for the development they offer across all these areas. “In order to create real impact it is necessary but not sufficient to just train up some senior officials and send them back to their work in Afghanistan or Bangladesh.  We need to enable them to reach out to all the levels around those people back home. So a major part of what we are looking to do over the next 18 months is to test and adjust different forms of program design and production to enhance efforts continuously in innovative and agile ways. This will necessarily involve the use of technology, and new materials and contextualization to improve the accessibility and use of the learning for as wide an audience as possible. The alliance is not about running a couple more courses – it is about scaling it up as much as we can to create far greater impact.”


International organizations impact peace and security in their localities whether by their own mission to do so, or as part of normal operations (e.g. private sector companies). Sustainable activity increasingly requires spanning ministry, government, civil society, NGOs, and international organizational boundaries.

The GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance has opened applications to 3 relevant courses in Geneva, 2016, to advance leadership in peace and security contexts.

Leading & Influencing with Impact – 18-20 April

Leading Effectively in Turbulent Times – 23 – 26 May

Enhancing Leadership for Women: Innovative Policy Skills for Women and Men, 21-23 September.

Selection will ensure a diverse and stimulating international audience.

Learn more here:


Executive Development at CCL

A top-ranked, global provider of leadership development. By leveraging the power of leadership to drive results that matter most to clients, CCL transforms individual leaders, teams, organizations and society.

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