Focus Area III
Advancing Leadership and

We delivered a variety of leadership and management programmes to support stakeholders in their effort to drive a UN management culture that fully supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

As leaders support teams and organizations to move more effectively towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a set of leadership programmes were delivered to advance a collective understanding of principled, accountable, inclusive, and transformational leadership, as outlined in the United Nations System Leadership Framework.

Ensuring equity, inclusivity and wellbeing at the heart of all that we do

Equity and inclusion have been important components of COVID-19 emergency responses. Going forward, they will be crucial for our collective recovery planning and efforts. To bend the curve of thinking and behaviour on gender equality, diversity, and inclusion, UNSSC has supported multiple stakeholders through two flagship learning programmes, and two college-wide thought leadership events.

Our flagship Leadership, Women and the UN programme continues to be a useful tool for female UN leaders wishing to learn about leadership approaches, as well as the gender and cultural dimensions of leadership, and the dynamics of power, influence and negotiation. The joint UNSSC - Global Woman Leaders Voices for Change and Inclusion “Women’s Voices for An Equal Future” thought leadership event convened a powerhouse panel of women leaders who shared insights on the significance of women’s leadership, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. The event drew an online audience of over 250 participants from the UN system and civil society. Through such initiatives, the College continues to underscore the critical role of women's leadership in preparing for a more equitable recovery.

The first edition of the “Developing Diversity and Cultural Intelligence Skills for Results in Today’s Environment” programme and the “Unity in Difference” thought leadership series saw the College take a step further in contributing to a more diverse and inclusive United Nations. These programmes focused on supporting UN Staff to widen their cultural sensitivity and awareness in order to foster more harmonious interactions and communication in diverse work environments. The “Unity in Difference” thought leadership event offered a space to collectively explore and understand identities as they relate to diversity and inclusion. Stakeholders were able to gain clearer understandings of diversity and its implications on individuals and policies. These domains included development, social cohesion, climate change, migration and demographics, education, welfare and social security, peace and security, and many others. Together, these initiatives aim to ensure that UN staff, and society at large, stay invested in building diverse and inclusive workplaces and societies.

Impact story
Leadership, Women
and the UN
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Fostering innovation and operational excellence

Innovation, data analytics, and operational excellence are critical levers to ensure sustainable and inclusive recovery efforts.

To create awareness and advance knowledge on innovation, in 2021 the Staff College continued its efforts to mainstream the UN Innovation Toolkit . Through a series of events and other activities, UNSSC highlighted the role of innovation in the UN. The Staff College demonstrated how innovative practices can lead to transformation at an organizational, individual and community level. Stakeholders from across the UN participated in different initiatives to showcase and share insights and explain how they are adopting UN Innovation Toolkit tools to nurture innovation. Coupled with Innovation, data analytics is an invaluable tool for the United Nations to innovate further, but only if staff know what to do with the available data. To support staff in the area of data analysis, the College launched the Fundamentals of Data Analytics in the UN context course. Across different UN agencies, staff learned how to effectively access, use, interpret, and communicate data.

Data will continue to transform the way the UN organizes, strategizes, and operates. Keeping pace with and effectively applying innovative initiatives and data technologies will depend on operational excellence and the ability to simplify processes. In line with this, the Staff College continued to deliver the Business Operations Strategy (BOS) 2.0 Practitioner Online Training developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Coordination Office. The course continues to assist operations staff to establish a common understanding of the UN’s Business Operations Strategy whose focus is on eliminating duplication, leveraging the common bargaining power of the UN, and maximizing economies of scale.

Impact story
World Tourism Organization
(UNWTO) – UN Innovation
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Instilling a new leadership & change culture

To play a role in shaping recovery efforts, UN entities and the UN system as a whole will need sustained leadership rooted in a cohesive leadership culture and change management practices. To further support this, the Staff College implemented and re-scoped a set of learning initiatives, including The Blue Line and UN Leaders Programme , as well as knowledge exchange initiatives under the auspices of the UN Lab for Organizational Change & Knowledge (UNLOCK).

Like all the College’s leadership and management development programmes, the Blue Line and the UN Leaders programme are aligned to the UN System Leadership Framework (UNLSF). The framework outlines what a UN leadership culture aligned with Agenda 2030 should consist of and how it should look.

In 2021, the Blue Line — a global learning hub for self-directed e-learning — continued to enable the Staff College to provide a comprehensive online training plan to supplement the leadership skills of UN staff. The expectations outlined in the UNLSF apply to all UN staff, at all levels, and in all locations. In line with this, the Blue Line has been an effective tool for providing a common language around leadership for UN staff. Similarly, UNSSC’s UN Leaders Programme has supported leaders dealing with the various complexities exacerbated by the pandemic. Through a combination of self-paced learning, peer exchanges, personalized executive coaching, individualized assessments, and interactions with leading experts, senior UN leaders continue to benefit from a unique opportunity to examine their leadership challenges and lead the transformational change required of the UN.

With change and recovery efforts happening at an unprecedented pace, UNSSC’s 2021 UN Lab for Organizational Change & Knowledge (UNLOCK) provided forums for change practitioners throughout the UN to connect, share, and support one another on work related to organizational change, transition, culture transformation and similar initiatives. In June 2021, UNSSC hosted the sixth annual peer exchange for the UNLOCK Network, hosting about 50 participants. Three days of discussion centered on change management topics like hybrid working, the UN efficiency agenda, anti-racism, and systems thinking. UNLOCK has been a successful forum for discussing critical change management trends and topics and finding solutions that enhance the work of the United Nations as we build forward better. In addition to facilitating knowledge exchanges, strengthening the network, and conducting case studies to identify good practices and lessons learned, UNSSC offered, through UNLOCK, advisory services to UN entities to provide capacity building on change management.

Impact story
Blue Line Learning Hub
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Strengthening leadership, management, and professional competencies to help leaders adapt to complexity

People-centred recovery strategies cannot be strengthened without good management and leadership. Managers and staff throughout the UN system need professional competencies to successfully contribute to pandemic recovery efforts. In 2021, the Staff College offered unique learning programmes that were designed to equip UN staff with updated skills in areas like change management, communication, adaptive leadership, emotional intelligence. Our Leading Transformational Change in a Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex, & Ambiguous (VUCA) World, and the UN Emerging Leaders e-Learning programme empowered UN staff and leaders to develop these skills.

The mental health challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic call for a new type of UN leadership, where leaders create workplace environments where staff feel psychologically safe. Through our newly launched Workplace Mental Health and Well-being: Lead and Learn Programme, UNSSC in collaboration with the UN Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy Team, developed learnings on mental health and well-being. The programme helps train leaders and managers to be supportive and understanding of the needs of their staff, and able to foster workplaces that enhance mental and physical health and well-being.

Collaborative partnerships with academia

Tapping into the research and teaching capabilities of leading academic institutions in order to provide better learning outcomes for the UNSSC community, the Staff College advanced a number of academic partnerships in 2021. Collaborations centered around curriculum design with IE University and the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

UNSSC leveraged its partnership with IE University to develop a new curriculum on the “Fundamentals of Data Analytics in the UN context” which enables UN professionals to strengthen their ability to access, use, interpret and communicate data. To support UN staff to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace, UNSSC partnered with the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to create and deliver a course on “Diversity and Cultural Intelligence Skills for Results”. The course is designed to help participants increase their cultural sensitivity and awareness, enabling them to work, interact, and communicate in diverse work environments, as well as build relationships with people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and mitigate cross-cultural challenges.