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 November 1997    

New leadership programme launched
"My government and the people of Jordan are extremely proud of what the UNU has done," said Jordan's King Hussein, referring to the University's first Leadership Programme, which concluded at the end of June. The 32-day programme gathered 163 would-be leaders from 63 countries at its Jordan-based International Leadership Academy (UNU/ILA) to teach them about the art and science of leadership.

The future of the world is closely connected with the performance of its political and business leaders. Good leadership can transform static countries or organizations into dynamic ones. But it involves a deep sense of responsibility and dedication to serving others. The UNU thought that future leaders needed a place where they could develop these skills and learn about leadership through direct interaction with some of the world's most successful leaders. So with Jordan's help, the Academy was set up in 1995.

In his address to participants, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul Salam Majali, former Chairman of the UNU Council, who conceived the idea of the UNU/ILA 14 years ago, said that one of the programme's main objectives was to teach participants how to direct history and not be dominated by circumstances. He also explained that he hoped this programme would show them how to use their mental and psychological talents to lead others undeterred towards clear-cut objectives.

"To meet the challenges of the 21st century, leaders need to use their global awareness and multidimensional perspective to improve the human condition," said Jordan's Queen Noor, Chair of the UNU/ILA Advisory Committee, in her opening address to participants, adding "the world needs leaders who appreciate and understand the direct relationship between such things as sustainable development, participatory decision-making and world peace."

The would-be leaders participating in the programme attended an average of three lectures each day from the 45 high-level speakers. The speakers included prime ministers, secretaries of state, congressmen, and executive directors from around the world. The programme also included a six-day study visit to Israel, Palestine and Egypt.

"I personally have benefited enormously from the opportunity to learn from a wide range of distinguished speakers and to network with an interesting and multi-talented group of international participants," said Sue le Mesurier, a participant from New Zealand.

Although most of the participants shared Ms. Mesurier's experience and praised the ambitious initiative of the programme, some did not spare criticism over organizational and logistical problems. "Due to the high calibre of the speakers and their consequent engagements, the programme was unfortunately subjected to a lot of fine tuning," lamented Adel Safty, UNU/ILA's Director.

And some felt that 163 participants was too many. While they recognized the networking potential of being part of such a large and diverse group, many thought the number of participants should have been limited to the original plan of 75. "Basically, this meant fewer opportunities for interaction with the speakers," said Sarah Vallance, a participant from Australia.

But leadership can be a risky endeavour that sometimes involves compromise. As one participant said: "As this was the first leadership programme, we cannot be too critical of small logistical details that could arise at any forum of this nature."
UNU undergoing evolution, not revolution Contents Earthquakes and mega-cities