The initial concept and coordination of the Leadership and Conflict Management Skills for Electoral Stakeholders (LEAD) course was developed by Fabio Bargiacchi, today the Executive Director of ECES. He created the concept with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) after attending CCL’s “Leadership Development Program” in San Diego in August 2009, while serving as Senior Electoral Assistance Advisor of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brussels and Coordinator of the Joint European Commission (EC)-UNDP Task Force on Electoral Assistance.
Building on his vast experience in the electoral assistance field, Fabio Bargiacchi was able to identify the need for capacity-building training, and the added value this could provide in consolidating democratic transitions and ensuring free and transparent electoral processes.
The LEAD curriculum integrates both the concepts of leadership and conflict management, providing a solid foundation for capacity-building among the different stakeholders engaged in the electoral process. The curriculum was formulated after feedback was incorporated from several stakeholders, including representatives from the Electoral Commissions of the Economic Community of Central African States, Madagascar, Togo, Chad, Mali, along with participants of the Political Academy for Young Politicians (PYPA) and expert seminars organised by ECES and MediatEUr.
Leadership is a complex activity in which qualities such as the ability to set direction, control emotions, create alignment among competing departments or goals, motivate personnel, keep promises, and manage change are fundamental when it comes to facing the challenges and the risks that emerge during the electoral process. The importance of strengthening political and electoral administrators’ leadership skills lies in the assumption that it can lead to sustainable and effective outcomes in terms of the building of strong institutions that in turn can not only maintain integrity in the face of direct coercion and threats to their own operations but also establish the trust, neutrality and capacity to identify and mitigate, where possible, sources of electoral conflict in the broader political and social milieu and prevent triggers and incidents of violence from escalating.
This echoes both “top-down” and “bottom-up” dynamics, by which political norms and practices are built no only by institutions and individuals atthe top (eg. State, Government, Law) but also by individuals, informal networks, private organisations etc. Strengthening local leadership, therefore, can aid the consolidation of democratic transitions.
Click here for examples of LEAD trainings implemented by ECES