In the humanitarian sector, the issue of leadership has been largely absent from recent debates about performance and professionalism. An initial foray into what it is that people are talking about when they lament a lack of leadership is a vacuum of strategic leadership, both at global and local levels. This vacuum is all too evident among multinational and bilateral organisations as well as amongst NGOs.
Strategic leaders of the future need to position themselves at the node where different networks connect or where there is maximum overlap between the elements of a collaborative ven diagram. They will need skills to build multi-sectoral collaborative networks based on a recognition of the changing realities of the humanitarian field and emerging actors, and also to enable others to learn from them. The strategic leader will have the ability to identify and seize opportunities for innovation, and through “stakeholders net assessments” will be better able to understand the value he or she brings to stakeholders and the value which they in turn bring. Future strategic leaders will have to move beyond their traditional comfort zones and embrace the ambiguity which reflects reality, and consequently will have to develop appropriate anticipatory and adaptive skills.