At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) we have 18 thematic clusters including Leadership. Dive in deeper with our one of the experts, Mr Peter Cunningham, who will be co-directing our upcoming executive education course in Geneva on ‘Lead and Influence with Impact’ in partnership with Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
Tell us about yourself:
Name: Peter Cunningham
Job Title: Co-director,Geneva Leadership Alliance
Fun fact: My first career was as a chef
GCSP: Why did you choose to enter this field?
It’s been a gradual journey. Partly, I guess because I seem to have a natural affinity with aspects of the work so it’s motivating to spend time doing things you have learned to do well. Equally, because it challenges me and I keep finding myself in situations that I haven’t experienced before and that take me outside my comfort zone so I’m always learning.
GCSP: What is your role at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy?
I am co-director of the Geneva Leadership Alliance, a partnership between the GCSP and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Jointly, we bring expert insight into peace, security and development issues and an evidenced based approach to developing leadership capability across all sectors. This combination is crucial because it allows us to offer relevant, affordable and accessible leadership development for individuals and organisations.
GCSP: Tell us more about the courses you run?
We offer courses on how to better influence and lead teams and organisations. People participate from many different countries and sectors so it’s a really enriching setting and a great way to grow your network. We also work directly with organisations on developing internal programmes and organisational change projects.
GCSP: How do you see the Geneva Leadership Alliance shaping the future?
There is a growing leadership deficit across society. This is largely because it is becoming increasingly difficult to practice leading amidst all the complexity, diversity and distractions today’s world presents. It’s really hard to lead well, consistently!
The only way we are going to address this is to start taking seriously, and invest in, the preparation of people to take on the challenges of leadership. This is based on much the same principle as needing to train pilots to fly more sophisticated airplanes.
This is why we offer a growing portfolio of executive education, dialogue activities and research on leadership that is designed especially for professionals in the peace, security and development sectors. Our focus on mind-sets, skills and tools that develop collaborative, creative and resilient leaders is aimed at reducing that deficit.
GCSP: What have you learnt from the participants in your courses? What is your biggest takeaway?
Many things but two stand out:
First one is that despite all the negative ‘news’ we are bombarded with every single day, there are so many people working tirelessly under very difficult circumstances, often for very little reward, to try and make their world better and safer. The second follows on directly, its humility.
GCSP: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Never stop asking questions
GCSP: What’s the next challenge for leadership?
Leadership is something that happens between people, it’s a form of service to others, to a team, an organisation, to a mission or a community. Our challenge is to continuously make more relevant, stimulating and applicable learning opportunities available to more people who are working in their own ways to make the world a safer place. One way we do this is through our scholarship programme that enables change makers to participate who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this form of expensive education.
GCSP: What’s coming up next in leadership at the GCSP? What should readers stay tuned for more information on the Geneva Leadership Alliance?
We have 2 great open enrolment courses coming up in Geneva:
We’ll also soon be sharing a new video concept: Resolute. It’s a series of entirely free video resources based on interviews with incredible individuals along with teaching notes so that anyone can use them to facilitate discussion sessions about leading with integrity when things get really difficult.
GCSP: Why are you passionate about this subject? Why does it make a difference for you personally or professionally?
Seeing smart and motivated people overcoming personal challenges, grow as individuals and realise their potential in ways that sometimes they themselves hadn’t even considered is pretty special to me. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to do the work we’re doing alongside some fantastic colleagues at GCSP and CCL. I couldn’t ask for more than that!
Interesting in learning with Peter Cunningham ?
He is the course director for the 'Lead and Influence with Impact'