Emerging water leaders: Three key roles
The International WaterCentre (IWC) is building a new Water Leadership Program that will begin in December 2011. This nine-month program is customised for emerging water leaders at the project to middle management level who want to be more effective at exercising influence, driving change, and advancing more integrated forms of water management.
The primary rationale for the program is that to address wicked problems and drive more integrated and sustainable forms of water management, the water sector needs practitioners with a range of technical, management and leadership skills.
To help inform the design and content of the program, the IWC has reviewed relevant literature and conducted a national survey of water practitioners to identify key, non-executive water leadership roles. This background research identified three key roles.
The first of these roles is the ‘project champion’. Emergent leaders in this role initiate and strongly drive processes of change, as well as integrated water management projects and policies. They are highly motivated, stand out early in processes of change and excel at exerting influence.
The second role is the ‘enabling leader’. People in this role enable others to find solutions to complex challenges involving integrated water management. They create environments where people (e.g. often less senior people) from across organisational boundaries can interact, collaborate, experiment, take risks and learn together.
Project / team leader
The third role is the ‘project / team leader’. They are formally responsible for delivering outcomes from teams working on integrated water management projects. Their role includes building, managing and monitoring the performance of teams. For major projects, they commonly lead challenging, cross-boundary, multi-disciplinary teams.
Knowledge of the nature of these roles has helped to identify relevant content to be included in the leadership program. For example, transformational leadership theory is particularly relevant to project champions, complexity leadership theory has value to enabling leaders, and functional team leadership models have relevance to project / team leaders. In addition, some leadership abilities are needed for all three roles, such as social networking, using ‘windows of opportunity’ and influencing executives.
Applications for the 2011/12 IWC Water Leadership Program close at the end of October.