The UN System Leadership Framework and Management Reform are critical elements for enabling a new way of working to deliver results for Member States. Both of these elements require UN personnel to develop new knowledge and skill sets. In 2019, through its Knowledge Centre for Leadership and Management, UNSSC helped UN personnel acquire the learning they need to deliver results by offering:
1. A progressive learning path for UN personnel at all levels;
2. Tools to support a new way of working.
A progressive learning path for UN personnel at all levels
Designing and managing organizational change
To fuel change management which the United Nations needs to support UN reform, UNSSC provided learning on how to design and manage organizational change. Learning offerings helped UN personnel define what UN reform means for their team, and helped participants develop a strategy for how to lead change and transformation. UN personnel developed concrete approaches based on the UNLOCK change model to successfully pursue strategy development.
Learning for senior leaders
To ensure that the United Nations is equipped to drive transformational change, UNSSC delivered a number of learning offerings for senior leaders. These were opportunities to reflect on strong and successful leadership approaches and their application, and to forge deeper connections with colleagues from across the UN system through peer exchange and collegial support. Senior leaders also analysed leadership lessons based on a range of challenges, trends and opportunities.
One such learning offering was the UN Leaders Programme. Entering its eleventh year, it has welcomed hundreds of senior UN officials from around the globe and featured over 200 world-renowned speakers to create a more effective and unified leadership culture in the UN system. It is the official Leadership Development Programme of the UN Secretariat.
In addition to the UN Leadership Programme, in 2019 UNSSC delivered a leadership “deep dive” in collaboration with the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. Participants were immersed in a unique leadership development journey that challenged them to transform themselves, their sphere of influence – and thereby their organizations.
A third learning offering for senior leaders, the “Leadership, Women and the UN Programme”, promoted the expansion and renewal of prevalent paradigms of leadership to ensure a more gender-balanced workplace across and beyond the UN system to advance the principled and inclusive leadership culture envisioned in the UN System Leadership Framework. The offering gave UN personnel a unique opportunity to explore: different leadership approaches and their situational application; the gender and cultural dimensions of leadership; the dynamics of power, influence and negotiation; and deeper personal–professional coherence and self-awareness. These themes are critical if UN staff are to develop a set of skills and competencies for transformative and charismatic leadership.
Leading in the United Nations: A Deep Dive
“The training came at a critical time in my career. Afterwards, I organized a session with senior staff (section chiefs) to share some of the concepts which were developed during the training such as the persona, the below the line, the three pulls, etc. It was a very lively session. People were interested and it was decided to organize sessions from time to time to continue creating a leadership spirit in the country office...The skills and knowledge acquired are critical for a country representative.”
Preparing for leadership and management positions
In 2019, UNSSC delivered the UN System Executive Management Programme for aspiring team leaders. The offering was tailor-made to:
- prepare UN personnel for leadership and management positions in order to lead more effective teams;
- help would-be team leaders deliver increasingly meaningful results and become role models for UN leadership values and behaviours;
- contribute to transforming the organization by fostering a culture of innovation and by implementing change;
- strengthen the UN’s ability to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
The programme was designed to train future team leaders by providing them with the practical tools and knowledge to help them address the complex realities they face in order to improve their responsiveness and impact – both in field locations and at headquarters.
UN Executive Management Programme
“I enrolled in the UN Secretariat Executive Management Programme at a point in my career when I was ready to transition out of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) or start a new role within UNODC. The nine modules of the programme – People Management, Performance Management, Communication, Partnership-building, Innovation, Change Management, Financial Resources Management, Strategic Planning, and Executive Decision-making – were exactly what I needed, and in some cases the programme acted as a refresher to previous leadership training.
In preparing for the world ‘outside of the UN walls’, I needed to enhance my knowledge and skills in other strategic areas of leadership. Transferring the knowledge and skills acquired from all the nine modules of the programme became so important, relevant and applicable. I have had to use my leadership, substantive coordination and overall management skills but heavily supported by the knowledge gained from the programme to help me strengthen UNODC’s position in Ethiopia.”
Enabling UN personnel to deliver results effectively
To support a wide range of UN personnel, including those commencing management roles, UNSSC delivered its highly versatile Extended E-Certificate on Leadership and Management. This self-paced management offering enabled all UN personnel with managerial functions to design a tailored curriculum that addresses their specific job requirements and learning needs as well as providing them with pathways and tools to achieve meaningful results. Participants came away with essential knowledge, such as how to:
- translate overall visions into realistic goals by planning strategically, implementing results-based management systems, mitigating risks, and managing resources and funds;
- create high-performing teams by motivating and coaching individual members;
- monitor and evaluate personnel performance objectively and address under-performance constructively;
- communicate effectively with senior managers and peers and maintain long-term partnerships with key stakeholders.
E-Management Certificate Programme
“I really enjoyed all of the topics related to behavioural management...strategy, structure, and management systems – all the things that make up the ‘visible part of the iceberg’. While these are conditions for success, they are not enough. This is because managers are also expected to handle the ‘hidden part of the iceberg’, which is made up of behaviours. Learning this was really fascinating.”
Tools to support a new way of working
UNSSC Leadership Culture Assessment Tool
To advance implementation of the UN System Leadership Framework and Management Reform, UNSSC developed the UN Leadership Culture Assessment Tool. The tool was designed to measure how participating teams, departments and entities demonstrate the key competencies of the Leadership Framework. It also provides an important platform through which to drive behavioural change and assess leadership culture across the UN system. In this way, it supports the UN in narrowing the gap between the current and the desired leadership cultures, revealing key opportunities for leadership development, effectiveness and efficiency at all levels. By using the tool, teams learn to what extent their leadership culture supports or impedes efficiency and performance, and how to set up benchmarks for improvement.
UN Innovation Toolkit
To help drive transformational change rooted in an innovation mindset, UNSSC became the curator of the UN Innovation Toolkit. Initiated at the behest of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres under the leadership of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, the toolkit was developed in close collaboration with the UN Innovation Network and other partners. It was entrusted to UNSSC in 2019 to be integrated into UNSSC learning programmes as an effective means of scaling up its use across the UN system.
The creators of the toolkit built the platform upon five critical foundations of innovation:
- Strategy: arriving at a straightforward way to guide people’s work while balancing risks and rewards;
- Partnerships: connecting with internal and external entities that can contribute to the success of innovation;
- Architecture: developing platforms that users need to administer throughout the life cycle of an innovation;
- Culture: creating spaces that foster calculated risk and allow the UN to innovate continually;
- Evaluation: offering mechanisms that encourage organizations to look inward and share the efficiency and results of their work during the innovation life cycle.