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The difference between a leader and leadership

Author: Robert Ninyesiga, UNNGOF Uganda, IFP member

In the simplest terms, leaders are the ones who are in leadership. Leadership is often seen as a position – by appointment or earning; however important to note is the fact that a leader can actually lead without a formal position. Leaders influence others to accomplish more than they ever thought possible – and that can be done within a formal position or without! A person can be a leader, while leadership refers to the ability of the leader (among other definitions). A leader may simply be someone in a position, while leadership is a reflection of that leader’s ability to lead, whether positive or negative.

In a bid to stimulate debate and peer exchange on leadership, the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP) developed a Leadership Development Program for CSO leaders. It is facilitated by the Community Development Resource Association (CDRA). The Program starts with online exchanges, a 4-day face to face workshop in Dhulikhel, Nepal, and will continue with online exchanges in the upcoming months. The first cycle of the Leadership Development Program (#LDP) brings together 12 CSO platform leaders (from Zambia, Indonesia, Slovenia, Chez Republic, India, Nepal, Latvia, Brazil, Seychelles, Nigeria and Uganda) aimed at developing them as social change actors and preparing the next generation of leaders who would steer the role of national NGO platforms towards social change.

Ms. Nomvula Dlamini, the Director of Community Development Resource Association while facilitating during the training emphasized that – “Leadership is about ability to connect with your power, and if you don’t know the essence of your leadership, then you lead anyhow”.

The 4 days training provided an opportunity for participants to understand social change, role of CSO platforms in social change as well as the kind of leadership that CSO platforms should be offering to enhance social change.

As take-aways from this training; agency ought to be at the center of social change, alliance building is critical in the pursuance of social change, self change can greatly impact on social change, legitimacy and credibility of CSO platforms are fundamental during campaigning for social change, CSO platform leaders ought to learn how to manage diversity within the membership so to avoid the tensions that tend to rise and end up affecting the campaign for social change. It’s important to understand the context within which you are campaigning for social change citizens (understand the social change landscape which is regularly changing.

Speaking during the training, Ms. Joyce Soares, IFP’s Capacity development & membership coordinator, noted that over the next 4 years, a total of thirty-six current and emerging national NGO platforms leaders will benefit from the Program during three 9-month cycles. Uganda National NGO Forum participated in this first cycle.

IFP, to which Uganda National NGO Forum is a member enables exchanges and cooperation between platforms and the NGO community at national, regional and international level and organizes dialogue with a range of international development actors. It also serves to promote national NGO platforms and regional coalitions.