Harnessing the Soft Leadership Skills of Young Civil Society Actors

Harnessing the Soft Leadership Skills of Young Civil Society Actors

In 2017, with the support of  Ford Foundation West Africa and the Rockdale Foundation, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) organised the second edition of the Civil Society Leadership Institute (CSLI) programme. This programme was designed to groom in the civil society sector the next generation of 18 leaders from 11 West African countries. It was implemented in two phases; the training phase and mentorship/coaching phase.

These two phases together provided the fellows with strong theoretical principles, experiential guidance to put their learning into practice. Participants also acquired managerial skills, to guide their teams in a smooth and efficient way. While leadership is unique to everyone and every leader has their own style and strategy, experience sharing is a key part of the process to inspire other fellows. Bearing this in mind, experience sharing constituted one of the key elements of the programme.

The sharing of experiences, the stories from the other fellows and various capacity building sessions helped to clarify certain notions about leadership. Leaders face challenges daily and their ability to surmount them makes the sterling difference. The leadership stories and lessons of others can help one more quickly level up their skills.

Augustine Macarthy was one of the 18 participants. He is the founder and Executive Director of Education and Youth Empowerment, a non-governmental organisation in Sierra Leone. He applied to WACSI’s CSLI programme to enhance his leadership skills to lead his team better.

His active participation in the programme enhanced his understanding of leadership. He confessed how his participation in the two-week leadership programme has helped him define a new organisational strategy and made decision making in the organisation more consultative. He has now a strong capacity and facility to work with his team and together they are working toward achieving the organisation’s goal.

Thelma Ankora was among the participants of this cohort. She was the Programme Officer of Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED-Africa), Ghana. Thelma admitted that through the programme, she understood the need to manage her expectations as these often triggered her reactions at work.

Through sessions on personal leadership, specifically, modules on understanding self, Ankora understood ways through which she can manage her emotions before expressing them to others, not making hasty decisions during pressing moments but carefully analysing the impact of her actions.

These, for Ankora, were essential gains she got from the CSLI, a programme which she considers to have played a key role in her career and leadership journey.

You can read the full CSLI stories here

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