Developing Effective Intergenerational Supervisory Skills in International Development

Developing Effective Intergenerational Supervisory Skills in International Development

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In the dynamic landscape of international development, where cultures converge and global challenges demand innovative solutions, effective leadership is indispensable. As advocates for positive change, we must adopt a nuanced approach to management, one that recognises the complexities of intergenerational dynamics and promotes collaboration across borders and generations.

International development presents a unique array of challenges and opportunities. From addressing poverty and inequality to combatting climate change and humanitarian crises, adept leadership is more crucial than ever. Drawing from my experience as a senior manager and team lead, I am pleased to offer insights into the intricacies of intergenerational supervisory skills.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness forms the foundation of effective leadership within the global context of international development. It involves a deep understanding of one’s own cultural biases, privileges, and constraints. Consider Aisha, a development manager overseeing a diverse team spanning various countries and cultural backgrounds. Aisha’s leadership journey is characterised by her conscious recognition of her cultural perspective and her proactive solicitation of feedback from team members.

Aisha regularly engages in introspection to identify her own cultural biases and assumptions. She takes time to reflect on her upbringing, experiences, and societal influences that shape her worldview. Through this reflective practice, Aisha gains insight into how her cultural background may influence her perceptions and decisions in the workplace. Aisha also actively seeks feedback from her team members to gain different perspectives and challenge her own assumptions. She creates a culture of openness where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences.  She prioritises continuous learning about different cultures and global issues relevant to her work. She stays informed about cultural norms, historical contexts, and socio-economic factors that impact the experiences of her team members. This proactive approach not only expands Aisha’s knowledge but also demonstrates her commitment to cultural competency and inclusivity.

Leading by Example

Leading by example is paramount in fostering cross-cultural collaboration within international development. Take Kofi, a project coordinator, for instance. Kofi embodies values such as integrity, collaboration, and accountability in his interactions with local partners and stakeholders. Kofi understands that actions speak louder than words, and he embodies key values such as integrity, collaboration, and accountability in all his interactions. When working with local partners and stakeholders, Kofi consistently demonstrates these principles through his actions and decisions.

For instance, when faced with a challenging situation, Kofi does not just talk about the importance of integrity, he lives it. He ensures that all project activities are conducted transparently and ethically, earning the trust of his partners and stakeholders. Moreover, Kofi fosters a culture of collaboration by actively involving all stakeholders in decision-making processes. He recognises that each person brings unique insights and perspectives to the table, regardless of their cultural background. He also holds himself and others accountable for their actions and commitments. He sets clear expectations and follows through on his promises, inspiring others to do the same. This accountability creates a culture of reliability and dependability, essential for the success of development initiatives.

Building Trust and Transparency

Trust serves as the foundation of effective collaboration in the international development arena. Ijeoma, a programme manager, prioritises transparency and open communication within her team. Ijeoma fosters an environment of trust and mutual accountability by establishing clear expectations, encouraging dialogue, and valuing diverse perspectives. Ijeoma recognises that trust is the cornerstone of successful collaboration. She prioritises transparency and open communication as fundamental principles in her leadership approach. One way Ijeoma builds trust is by establishing clear expectations for her team. She ensures everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, as well as the project’s objectives and goals. This clarity helps to minimise misunderstandings and conflicts, creating a foundation of trust and accountability.

Moreover, Ijeoma encourages dialogue among her team members. She creates opportunities for open discussions and brainstorming sessions where diverse perspectives are valued and respected. Ijeoma demonstrates her commitment to inclusivity and collaboration by listening actively to her team members and considering their input. She values diverse perspectives within her team. She recognises that each team member brings unique experiences and insights to the table, which can enrich the project and lead to more innovative solutions. Ijeoma builds trust and promotes mutual respect among her team members.

Empathy and Cultural Competence

Empathy emerges as a fundamental trait in effective leadership, particularly in cross-cultural engagement. Kamara, a country director, exemplifies this by demonstrating empathy and cultural competence in his interactions with local communities and partners. Kamara understands that empathy is a fundamental trait in building meaningful relationships and driving positive change. He demonstrates empathy by actively listening to the concerns and perspectives of local communities and partners. Rather than imposing his ideas or solutions, Kamara takes the time to understand their needs, challenges, and aspirations. This empathetic approach fosters trust and respect, laying the groundwork for collaboration and mutual understanding.

Kamara’s adaptability to local contexts is another key aspect of his cultural competence. He understands that what works in one cultural setting may not necessarily work in another. Therefore, Kamara is flexible and open-minded, willing to adjust his approach based on the specific needs and preferences of the communities he serves. This flexibility not only enhances his effectiveness as a leader but also strengthens relationships and fosters collaboration.

Effective Communication

Effective communication serves as the lifeblood of successful international development projects. Njambi, a project manager, leverages technology and cross-cultural communication skills to facilitate dialogue and collaboration among team members dispersed across different time zones and languages. Njambi recognises that effective communication is the lifeblood of successful collaboration. As a project manager overseeing a team dispersed across different time zones and languages, Njambi understands the importance of leveraging technology and cross-cultural communication skills to facilitate dialogue and collaboration.

To ensure clear and inclusive communication, Njambi establishes various communication channels that cater to the diverse needs of the team. Whether it is through email, video conferencing, instant messaging platforms, or project management tools, Njambi ensures that every team member has access to the necessary information and resources. Moreover, Njambi actively fosters an environment where every team member feels empowered to voice their opinions and contribute to the project’s success. She encourages open dialogue and constructive feedback, creating a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.

Recognition and Appreciation

Recognition and appreciation play pivotal roles in nurturing motivation and commitment among diverse team members. Sarah, a project director, celebrates cultural diversity and acknowledges the unique contributions of each team member to the project’s success. Sarah understands that recognising and appreciating the contributions of team members is vital for maintaining morale and driving success. As a project director leading a diverse team, Sarah celebrates cultural diversity and values the unique strengths that each team member brings to the table.

To ensure that every team member feels valued and appreciated, Sarah implements inclusive recognition programmes. These programmes acknowledge not only individual achievements but also the collective efforts of the team. Sarah takes the time to publicly recognise and applaud the hard work and dedication of her team members, highlighting their contributions to the project’s success. Moreover, Sarah organises team building activities that foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among team members. These activities provide opportunities for team members to connect on a personal level, build trust, and strengthen bonds. Whether it is through team lunches, off-site retreats, or cultural exchange events, Sarah creates spaces where team members can celebrate their differences and learn from each other.

In conclusion, effective leadership in international development hinges upon the ability to bridge cultural divides, foster collaboration, and drive positive change. Through deliberate efforts to apply self-awareness, leading by example, and cultivating empathy and cultural competence, leaders can navigate complexity with confidence and inspire others to join them on the journey towards a more equitable and sustainable world.

Embracing intergenerational supervisory skills allows us to collectively strive towards a brighter future for generations to come.

 

About the author

Head, Capacity Development Unit at WACSI | + posts

Charles Kojo Vandyck is a dynamic development practitioner and thought leader who is driving transformative change within civil society. As a Founding Member of the prestigious International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), spearheaded by the renowned Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Charles is at the forefront of transforming citizen participation worldwide. With positions as a Trustee of INTRAC and an Advisory Board Member of Disrupt Development, he is shaping the future from Oxford to Amsterdam. Charles's remarkable contributions continue as a Core Team Member of the game-changing Reimagining INGOs (RINGO) initiative and as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Recognised by the Development Studies Association, Charles is also a certified Change the Game Academy Master Trainer and an IFC-Learning and Performance Institute Trainer. Prepare to be inspired by Charles as he paves the way for a more resilient, sustainable, and empowered civil society.

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Charles Kojo Vandyck

Charles Kojo Vandyck is a dynamic development practitioner and thought leader who is driving transformative change within civil society. As a Founding Member of the prestigious International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), spearheaded by the renowned Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Charles is at the forefront of transforming citizen participation worldwide. With positions as a Trustee of INTRAC and an Advisory Board Member of Disrupt Development, he is shaping the future from Oxford to Amsterdam. Charles's remarkable contributions continue as a Core Team Member of the game-changing Reimagining INGOs (RINGO) initiative and as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Recognised by the Development Studies Association, Charles is also a certified Change the Game Academy Master Trainer and an IFC-Learning and Performance Institute Trainer. Prepare to be inspired by Charles as he paves the way for a more resilient, sustainable, and empowered civil society.

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