“I used to focus on just myself, completing my daily tasks without considering a holistic approach to enhance my organisation’s work,” Chinenye Etoniru, a 2017 Fellow of WACSI’s Civil Society Leadership Institute (CSLI), shared as she reflected on the impact of the programme on her personal and organisational development.
Chineye was one of the eighteen young civil society activists who were selected to be a part of the second cohort of the Fellowship. She had been promoted shortly before the programme yet was unsure she had the tools to effectively execute her duties and excel in her new role.
“The programme was instrumental in helping me transition roles effectively. From the session on leadership and influencing change, I learnt to develop programme innovation as a discipline, moving from just implementing programmes to innovating and taking the lead by thinking outside the box to achieve results.”
WACSI’s CSLI was created in 2015 to initiate the process of nurturing middle-level civil society professionals by strengthening their leadership competencies. The programme is run in 3 phases: training, mentoring and coaching. This design facilitates transformational leadership focusing on individual development, institutional strengthening and societal transformation.
Today, the thirty-eight Fellows who have undergone the Fellowship programme, just like Chinenye, attest to a marked transformation in their personal and organisational development.
“The CSLI programme helped me hold myself accountable for the results that I envisioned in my professional career. I learnt to lead myself, constantly innovating to achieve my outlined goals. This results-oriented thinking led me to successfully review and upgrade a leadership curriculum for a programme I currently lead.” Chinenye stated proudly. “This curriculum has been adopted for use in all other youth leadership programmes in the organisation. A few months before the CSLI, this would have seemed impossible. The programme unearthed my potential which drove me to change and lead growth in my organisation.” Chineye confessed.
“Before attending the CSLI programme, I easily gave up whenever I was faced with difficulties during project implementation. Now I consciously choose to make every project work despite challenges. I work with a leadership mindset and take ownership of the project,” she asserted. “During one of our recent projects, I designed a programme that provided learning opportunities for underprivileged school youth through organisations and community centres that cater for them. This change came about because of unforeseen challenges that affected the entire approved programme model,” she added.
“I quickly formulated a new design which was accepted by the funders and management of the organisation. This boldness was instilled in me through self-leadership at the CSLI programme; which is first holding myself accountable to set goals and pushing for results despite obstacles,” Chineye explained.
“The two-week training was a turning point in my career. Interacting with other young development professionals from the region helped me realise that most of the problems non-profit organisations face in Nigeria exist in other West African countries. This gave me hope and the unique opportunity to learn from my peers, share my experiences and best practices and to develop solutions to advance my community,” Chineye proclaimed.
*The CSLI programme is designed to groom the next generation of leaders in civil society. It equips participating fellows with the skills and tools they need to create sustainability in their fields and places of work and amplify the effectiveness of their actions. It also designed to bring the present and future young leaders in civil society together to share ideas, build each other up, to construct a vibrant, resilient and effective civil society in West Africa. The programme is run in two phases, the training phase and mentorship/coaching phase. These together, provide the fellows with strong theoretical principles and experiential guidance to put these into practice.