Leadership, like art, is a fluid and lived experience, making it hard to define.
Yet, efforts to understand leadership and to diagnose, even perhaps remedy, what some refer to as the lack, or the end or even the death of leadership in today’s world have only intensified over the past few years. The issue seems to be on everyone’s mind. No sphere of human activity and no institution escape the interrogation, and perhaps nowhere else more than at the United Nations.
Few would dispute that better leadership is essential for ensuring trust in the UN and in multilateralism, and for delivering more effective responses to today’s global challenges. Indeed, despite significant achievements since the organisation’s creation, public debate tends to focus on what is not delivered instead of what has been achieved. But both the source of the doubt and the answer lie with the UN – its leadership culture and in leadership manifested by its professionals. Poor leadership explains, to some extent, why the UN at times under-delivers on its promise, and why people lose faith in the organisation.
This publication frames the bigger picture of UN leadership and presents experiences and ideas that speak to both its reality and potential. Written with passion and sincerity, the contributions within it convey a degree of awareness, knowledge and inspiration that we hope will contribute to further strengthening the promise and the practice of UN leadership.
The landscape: Painting the big picture
Leadership not by title
An interview with Kanni Wignaraja
The burning priority for UN leadership?
Authentic and relatable UN leadership
An interview with Fathiaa Abdalla
Leadership and identity
The role of lawyers: Leadership for a UN civil servant
Larry D. Johnson
A UN culture of integrity
An interview with Karin Landgren
The portrait: Rendering the individual
A transformational leader
In praise of ‘influencing’ from offstage
Power, leadership and responsibility for the Other
The heart of a leader: Lessons from a mother
Ahmed Abdillahi Hashi
Leadership with empathy
Raja Karthikeya Gundu
A story of inspirational UN leadership
‘Blue Grit’: Determination, courage and principled behaviour in the UN
Ulf T. Kristoffersson
Who would you want to work for?
The abstract: Innovating and breaking the mould
Building coalitions for change: UN leadership on the ground
Feminist leadership – An inspiration for all
An interview with Bela Kapur
Democratising innovation and leadership at the UN
Ruth Blackshaw and Klas Moldéus
Testing limits, pushing boundaries and giving space to young people:
An interview with Catherine Sozi
Vendela Romedahl Stjernkvist and Savvy Brar
The still life: Depicting current arrangements
The United Nations System Leadership Framework – Where are we now?
Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
Who leads the UN? What UN demographics can reveal about leadership
Acronyms and abbreviations
What makes a good leader at the UN?
Click through to watch interviews with a number of contributors to The Art of Leadership: Framing What's Blue