Program on Humanitarian Leadership

Second Generation of Humanitarian Leaders are emerging

Humanitarian agencies play a critical role in emergency response, relief and recovery when disasters strike. In complex emergencies, where the context rapidly changes and decision making becomes challenging, leaders of humanitarian agencies must not only understand the complexity in which they are operating, but they must also possess in-depth knowledge of the international humanitarian system, international humanitarian law and skills required of any successful leader.

The Program on Humanitarian Leadership (PHL) is a 7 months intense training program that addresses the leadership skills in humanitarian workers trough long distance learning, in-person intensive training and field placements. These leadership skills include the ability to manage diverse groups, drive competing parties to consensus, make difficult decisions and necessary compromises while adhering to humanitarian principles, effectively utilize resources in an efficient and transparent manner, and make themselves accountable to their peers and the disaster-affected population.

The Program on Humanitarian Leadership (PHL) is designed and implemented by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, together with Concern Worldwide and International Medical Corps for the second year in 2017. The meticulous selection criteria from 1400application filed for the training, selected 38 young leaders from local SCOs and iNGOs from all over the world, that have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and learn from the best of the academia and humanitarian professionals. Aleksandra Davidovska from LEGIS is one of the selected participants in this training. She was also one of the 6 participants selected to take part in the PHL Field Placement Program offered by this course, which gives the opportunity to young leaders to learn and practice their leadership skills through a 3months internship with International Medical Corps and Concern Worldwide. All of the participants in the PHL will be assigned a professional mentor coming from one of these organizations, whose role is to support the professional development of the mentees and facilitate their learning process.

The first half of PHL has already been implemented – the online learning and assignments in March and April were complimented with intense in person one week training course in Nairobi, Kenya in May, designed to provide current humanitarian professionals with an introduction to leadership frameworks and styles and apply these directly to their own experiences. Beside the didactic curriculum during the in-person training that was focused on Adaptive Leadership, Contextual Analysis, Strategic Vision, Communication with all stakeholders and Understanding local populations’ needs, dynamics and perception, the course gave the possibility for peer-to-peer learning, using the various backgrounds, experience and variety of contexts the participants operate in. It also gave the opportunity for networking and building relations between the participants, which will hopefully result to better communication and cooperation in the humanitarian sector.

The second part of the PHL is ongoing, more online learning and assignments are following in June, July and August for all participants, as well as the two Final Assignments that must be completed to finalize the course. The Field Placements Program will begin in June, and the selected few will be placed on 3 months missions in Jordan, South Sudan and Pakistan with one of the partner organizations, that will provide the participants with a full immersion into experiential learning.

PHL has so far the best Leadership curricula that is offered in the humanitarian sector today. It was build on the basis of research and need assessment and the fact that the humanitarian sector has not yet paid the deserved attention to the development of professional leaders, that will motivate and drive teams, communities and stakeholders towards a common vision and clear objectives and introduce positive changes in the world.