29 – 31 May 2019, Geneva, Switzerland – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) hosted a Collaborative Leadership Workshop at the Palais des Nations, which came to life during the course of three half-day sessions. The workshop is part of UNITAR’s Leadership Portfolio, and was facilitated by Mr. Alex Mejia, Director of the Division for People and Social Inclusion at UNITAR. The lead trainers of the workshop were three international field-experts who enabled valuable, in-depth training and guidelines.

Effective collaborative leadership is demonstrating itself as paramount for the future, especially when focusing on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. All actors involved in the process must understand the importance of collaboration. Moreover, achieving the objectives of this new agenda requires successful multi-partner engagement.

With these important points in mind, the workshop was designed specifically for senior UN staff and senior diplomats serving in Geneva. The shared three-day interactive and reflective workshop covered various topics ranging from different leadership styles, understanding and using tools and techniques for effective collaboration, in addition to diverse strategies and action plans for valuable collaboration. The workshop ended with a practical activity during which participants were invited to draft an example of said action plan by leveraging the tools and concepts learned, which was followed by a small certificate ceremony.

The first day evolved around the definition of collaboration, the link between leadership and collaboration, as well as its challenges. The session was facilitated by Dr. Alexander Dormeier Freire, Director of the Executive Program in Development Policies and Practices at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland and by Mr. Alex Mejia of UNITAR. The sitting also considered what contributes to making collaboration effective and suggested how organizations and individual managers can be effective collaborators. In a practical exercise, participants gained insight into active listening and subsequently applied techniques aimed at sharpening their respective skills. The second day, led by Mr. Mike Saks, Emeritus Professor at the University of Suffolk, focused on distinct leadership, styles, behaviors and skills, in conjunction with how to establish a culture of collaboration as a manager.


The final day highlighted psychological concepts of leadership. To explore how personal qualities of an individual influence his or her leadership style, Ms. Tania Hummel, HR consultant, executive coach, and senior advisor to UNITAR delivered a session on psychological concepts of leadership, combining the Jungian Typology and the OCEAN big 5. The presentation explored how personal qualities can support collaboration or undermine it. In a subsequent practical exercise, participants were invited to explore these concepts hands-on, gaining insights into their own personalities both from their own perspective and the perspectives of others.

Given the invaluable results of this workshop, UNITAR looks forward to future Collaborative Leadership Workshops and to reach out to more beneficiaries.


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