The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) is one of the largest international non-governmental organisations in Afghanistan. SCA has been working in Afghanistan for more than thirty years and employs more than 5 000 employees working in different parts of the country. Their focus is on strengthening healthcare, community governance, education and rural livelihoods.
SCA operates through a Kabul-based central office, five regional offices in Afghanistan, and an office in Stockholm. In the past few years, a process of decentralization has taken place to give more authority to the regional offices. This is essential since most of the work is done through the central offices and the security situation often requires quick decision making. The regional offices work in close collaboration with many stakeholders including communities, civil society and government, often in tense situations. This puts high strain on all levels of management who face increasing levels of tension and stress.
Earlier work with SCA on Leadership and Strategic Planning provided MDF with in-depth understanding of its strategy and organizational culture. Based on this, MDF proposed to develop a tailor-made Value-Based Leadership training in small groups for a total of 100 managers from all levels, from Kabul, regional offices and the Stockholm office. A key principle of the training design was that within the volatile environment in which SCA operates, the organizational core values – responsiveness, impartiality, integrity, equality and social justice – need be a compass for organizational culture and leadership behavior. The training therefore started by strengthening commitment to these values as well an enhancing understanding how they can be translated to organizational behaviors.
The training furthermore focused on personal awareness of leadership styles and how these styles influence interactions and responses from others. This was linked to the concepts of situational leadership, personal accountability and motivation as a basis for the practical skill building sessions such as active listening, constructive feedback and coaching. Throughout the training, short interactive lectures were interspersed with group discussions, practical role play exercises and reflecting back on personal styles and core values.
At the end of the training, participants developed their personal leadership development goals, which they will continue to monitor in the years to come. Participants evaluated the training very positively, particularly appreciating their enhanced understanding of personal leadership styles and how they can use this to improve confidence, motivation and performance of their teams.