Virtual Leadership Development: Leadership = Results
Do improved leadership skills lead to results? Just ask the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) team from the Ethiopian Interfaith Forum for Development Dialogue and Action (EIFDDA) who participated in MEASURE Evaluation’s second offering of the Virtual Leadership Development Program (VLDP).
Established in December of 2002, EIFDDA is an alliance of faith-based organizations (FBOs) with development experience in diverse locations of Ethiopia. EIFDDA’s aim is to strengthen the capabilities of member agencies to translate their respective religious values into their development interventions, thereby improving the social, economic, cultural and spiritual prosperity of Ethiopians living in poverty. EIFDDA’s major areas of intervention are in:
- HIV and AIDS prevention and control
- Good governance
- Peace building and conflict resolution
Prior to the VLDP
According to team member Dr. Habtamu Woldeyes, HIV/AIDS Unit Coordinator, prior to the VLDP the team’s results were compromised by a lack of focus on goals and objectives, poor planning skills, a focus on individual contribution rather than on team work, and a lack of alignment within the organization.
Challenge and Desired Measurable Result
By the end of the 13 week program, the EIFDDA team developed an excellent action plan using the Challenge Model tool focused on achieving this desired measurable result:
In collaboration with EIFDDA’s management and technical staff as well as with member faith-based organizations (FBOs) and other stakeholders, develop/finalize materials to train EIFDDA and member staff in developing M&E indicators, data collection tools, data reporting formats, electronic data base and M&E guidelines by 30 June 2010. Identify and schedule first training for 30 program managers and M&E staff in its application to begin starting July 2010.
Their challenge statement was:
How can our team develop HIV M&E indicators, data collection tools, data reporting formats, electronic data base and M&E guidelines for EIFDDA and its members while most M&E staff are not well trained and the importance of M&E is not recognized by managers at all levels?
The action steps in their plan focused on aligning and mobilizing team members and their management staff, refining and promoting the use of data collection tools, developing training materials, and providing training.
Not only did the team achieve their desired measurable result within the 6-month implementation period, but they also used a “training of trainers” model that allowed them to increase the total number of people trained. The first 30 people trained “cascaded” their training to over 240 additional people by June 30th.
As a result of this training, all 9 member organizations improved their data reporting using the new format and, as a result, EIFDDA’s required reporting to the Global Fund also improved. Going forward, having data in a consistent format will allow EIFDDA to give member organizations feedback on their M&E systems and will lead to even better data reporting in the future.
Team member Dr. Habtamu Woldeyes attributed the team’s success in achieving its goals to the following:
- Vision and Focus - During the VLDP, the team developed a vision and a focus for M&E. This moved the team members from concentrating on their own work as individuals to acting as a team working toward a common goal. Although the team was drawn from different departments in the organization, through the VLDP they were able to assess organizational priorities and determine that data collection and other M&E systems were top priorities for demonstrating programmatic results to donors and other stakeholders.
- Action plan - During the VLDP, the team was able to create a clear plan of action. Through step-by-step implementation of the plan and a clear focus on the result they wished to attain, they were able to achieve their desired result.
- Aligning and mobilizing stakeholders - Using the leadership practice of aligning and mobilizing, the EIFDDA team was able to obtain funding from World Learning to support this activity. They also convinced their own senior management of the importance of this project.
In recognition of the importance of leadership and the impact that the VLDP had on them, the team has spread the VLDP principles and lessons the team learned throughout the organization through staff and departmental meetings. So ask this team “Do improved leadership skills lead to results?” Their resounding reply is “Yes.” Clearly, for this team, leadership = results.
For more information, read "The Virtual Leadership Development Program," a fact sheet summarizing the EIFDDA M&E team's experiences using the VLDP.