Unit 1: Leadership skills required for safeguarding


1.7 What do we know about effective leadership?

The Global Evidence Review of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment (SEAH) in the Aid Sector (Feather et al., 2021) notes that research into effective leadership in the sector is sparse. However, there are studies into effective leadership which are helpful.

Activity 1.2 Learning from research

Read the short section on leadership in the review (Section 3.4.2 of the linked article above) and identify all the key findings.

A few examples are noted below:

“…Factors which may contribute to effective leadership and organisational culture include managers’ awareness of SEAH, a speak-up culture and diversity in the workforce.”

“… efforts to increase knowledge and raise awareness among senior leadership in the UN had led to widespread norm change among high-level UN officials against transactional sex involving peacekeepers.”

“Visible leadership by senior management was found in several studies as being an essential aspect of effective approaches to safeguarding.”

“It highlighted evidence of investments in prevention efforts, which were considered to be a result of strong leadership in this area. This included investments in training and community awareness raising as well as reporting mechanisms and actions to respond to reports. One of the interviewees cited in the research, described commitment by senior leadership as the main factor which had enabled action on SEA compared to other UN missions.”

Now consider these questions:

  • How does your organisation demonstrate some of the terms used in the text above, for example, ‘visible leadership’, ‘effective/strong leadership’, and ‘commitment by senior leadership’?
  • Section 3.4.2 of the article mentions that leadership is ‘open to challenge and be prepared to challenge’. Do you have any examples of this in your organisation that you can share?

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Want to find out more?

For more resources on leadership in safeguarding, follow the links below: