17 Feb 2012
Dialogue for collaborative leadership
16 leaders from 11 districts, belonging to seven different political parties actively participated in a four day intensive national level workshop to learn the art of ‘dialogue’ as an important part of leadership during a period of democratic transition.
The party leaders expressed lack of intra party dialogue which needs to be promoted which is one of the main reasons they admitted for party division, adversely affecting key peace process decisions. They further expressed, “Often the leaders lose space for dialogue because they are only in the habit of telling people what they want. Also, focus on dialogue gets diluted because the leaders are struggling for power and less attention is paid to the underlining norms and values.”
Setting the pre-conditions and strategies for a successful dialogue within the political parties and between the parties, and promoting a culture of dialogue, is vital to facilitate smooth transition in the current country context. Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue aims to help leaders expand their understanding of leadership and build the requisite skills and attitudes, in order to know how to balance the use of competitive and collaborative approaches to solving problems. The simple idea being that, leaders in a time of democratic transition need to know how to compete and how to collaborate in order to bring the country forward..Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue project is one of the new initiatives of UNDP in Nepal, under the umbrella of Conflict Prevention Programme (CPP).
The political leaders participating in this training are either leading the training departments or are the members of the department in their respective parties and are expected to further impart their knowledge to other leaders within their parties, and also down to the local level.
Narayan Datta Mishra from Nepali Congress says, “The dialogue aspect that we learnt in this training is going to be very useful when we organise trainings for our party members at the national and local level.”
To date, 250 people have been through such dialogue workshops comprising of political party leaders, key government ministries, national level student leaders, local NGOs and the local media on preconditions, adequate preparation and credible facilitation for dialogue with sufficient commitment.
While this work is clearly focused on medium to longer-term change, one can already see elements of transformational change in the attitude of party leaders at the national and local level. As a result of the training, the District Party Presidents of Dhanusa have organised a forum and have started having regular dialogues for dealing with corruption, health and education issues in the district. One of the important outcomes is that the District Party Presidents now feel that they do not need additional funds in their district only if they can cut down ongoing corruption.
One of the Presidents said, “In the past even the representatives of the seven parties in Dhanusa were generally unwilling to listen to each other in meetings but following the CLD workshop the leaders of twenty-one parties now pay close attention to the issues raised during the meetings. It not just helped rebuild trust among the parties but also increased public trust on the parties, further enhancing the image of the political parties in the local level.”
In Nov 2011, Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue provided training to the Under Secretaries and government officials of various Ministries and the National Planning Commission along with the senior staff of the Nepal Administrative Staff College. Meetings have been ongoing for integrating Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue in the curriculum of the Staff College for further capacity building of the civil service. It is expected that this will be realized towards the second half of 2012. The local NGOs and youths in Banke district (Mid-Western region) have also received similar training and are already applying the skills into specific local level issues like public security and service delivery.
Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue becomes relevant in a context like Nepal where the political landscape is marred by intra party divisions , inter party struggle for power and positioning, which is reflected in a much prolonged peace process.