The GCSP-CCL* Leadership Alliance was formed in response to a growing demand to bring leadership development into the Peace and Security space and advance the effectiveness of leaders in public, private, transnational, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society. Its co-directors are Peter Cunningham and Dr Patrick Sweet.
The Leadership Alliance combines expertise in leadership development for large, multi-level organizations with in-depth knowledge of peace and security issues and policy. Through courses, dialogue, special events, applied policy analysis and thought leadership, the Leadership Alliance identifies advances and scales leadership best practices, at each level of impact: individual, team, organizational and societal. They are reaching a global audience, many of whom are active in some of the most challenging environments, working on some of the world’s most complex issues.
Tell us about yourself.
Patrick: I was raised in Michigan, USA, married in Madagascar and I have 2 daughters, 8 and 13. My ‘identity’ is an expat living in Stockholm for over 20 years with my family. I have worked in societal, organizational and leadership development efforts in the corporate sector, as an entrepreneur, and for institutes through these times. Furthermore, I have assessed and held developmental dialogues with 1000 plus leaders/managers from around the world and have several publications. I am personally pleased to have learned Swedish after the age of 35, and to ski after 40!
Peter: I was born in England, raised in Holland and have lived so far in 6 different countries, the most recent being Switzerland, my wife’s country of origin. My career has been equally varied having started my working life as a chef’s apprentice, to working in the English prison service and now having amassed over 15 years of international experience in adult education and executive coaching in public and private sectors.
What got you into executive education?
Patrick: A genuine desire to contribute to the common good that started back in Michigan. When Michigan deteriorated into a ‘rustbelt’ in the 1980s, I had a fortunate experience to work with regional economic transformation, with private, public, labour, educational organizations and NGO donors. This shaped my ‘revolving-door’ life experience.
Peter: I’d love to say it was a single light bulb moment of clarity but the reality is more a combination of coincidence, increasing curiosity and having had the fortune to work for a couple of inspiring leaders along the way. Since completing a Masters in Applied Coaching in 2015 I’ve found that much of my coaching practice and research is proving useful in my wider exec. Ed. work. I find the direct interaction with experienced professional adult learners both stimulating and hugely rewarding.
What is your role as Co-Directors of the GCSP-CCL Alliance for Advancing Leadership in Peace and Security?
Peter and Patrick: The Leadership Alliance brings together two world-class, complementary teams and missions. As co-directors, we bring complimentary capabilities and lead as we teach. We are co-responsible for creating synergy among the assets, networks and talents of our respective sponsors, in ways, which in turn serve the stakeholders and beneficiaries of those sponsors. We report to each other first, and then to our respective institutions, under the guidance of an advisory council and executive management teams. This is true collaborative leading.
Tell us more about the courses you run.
Peter and Patrick. Our courses are aimed at the nexus between issues related to global security and leadership. E.g. Leadership in Anti-Corruption where we explore the compliance and governance challenges as well as the leadership cultures of organizations that have developed resistance to corruption.
We also deliver several leadership courses that focus on developing essential capabilities required to be effective and influential in international and complex professional environments. These courses are for anyone who is interested to develop in the topics we cover, although we do have selection criteria that create participant groups that will benefit from each other’s experience and provide valued future networks.
In your opinion what is true leadership?
Patrick: Leadership is an outcome: it is the commitment of individuals, teams and networks to align resources, energy and actions toward shared, meaningful goals.
Peter: True leadership comes in many forms. For me it tends to involve the emergence of a certain way of thinking and acting at a certain point in time that encompasses an understanding of what is needed, the ability to connect others to this understanding, the courage to listen, learn, adapt and no small amount of resilience along the way. This combination can be found at times in individuals and, perhaps more commonly, in groups of people that collectively ‘lead.’
How do you see leadership developing in the future?
Patrick: Leading is less about leadership and more about ‘leading for purpose’. The future is here. And leadership is about leading for the betterment of a common good over that of disparate interests. Align around this and the future is bright!
Peter: Contemporary research into leadership development is primarily oriented toward and originated from the private and defence sectors, simply a matter of financial weight and demand. I believe that directing attention to the peace and security space and the numerous complex challenges people are faced with here can advance our understanding of where and how leadership needs to develop, possibly more than in any other space.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Patrick: I was given advice once to ‘distance myself’ from something. It is not important what and it was not the words but rather the entire gestalt of the communication that influenced me to action, to take the advice. This person’s disposition in that moment was quite different from the way he normally related with me. So it was the ‘delivery and the words’ together, that had such influence on me. It made me feel something unexpected, yet genuine. I followed his ‘advice’. Had I not, I would be sitting somewhere other than here today.
Peter: I was once asked a question by a mentor I was lucky to have and it has stuck with me over the years and is one that I still stop and ask myself whenever I can’t see a clear way forward on something: “What is really going on here?”
It is amazing how six words can cut through all the noise and get to the heart of a situation. It was very helpful.
What's the next challenge for global leaders?
Patrick: Advancing peace and stability directly, rather than hoping to do so indirectly through religious-, political- or market-fundamentalism.
Peter: We are experiencing a period of uncertainty and a need to prevent further harm while finding solutions to our planet’s many diverse challenges; this is high on the agenda. We have spent a period of time scaling things up and ‘globalizing’ the world to a point where the possible unintended consequence is leading more and more to ‘decision paralysis’. Maybe its time to scale things differently?
Article by Sunita Sehmi, director of Geneva-based leadership and management consultancy Walk the Talk
Learn more about courses on offer from the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance at our programme page.