What to expect?

This two-day training is designed to be interactive, with a mix of large and small group discussions and an interactive role-play activity that is tailored to suit the needs of participants (who fill out a learning needs assessment before the training). Participants also have the opportunity to apply these skills to real challenges they are currently facing in their work through our “strategy clinic” exercise.

In broad terms, the Political Acumen training teaches participants how to:

1. Set Sound Priorities: The ability to decide what goals are most
important for the organization, given the programming context, and the
context-specific comparative advantages of the leader’s organization.
Governments, NGOs and corporations have many mandates, and it is not
usually possible to make progress on all of them simultaneously. In most
cases, women leaders must combine extensive assessment and internal
consultation with personal judgment to answer the basic question: “What
is most important for my institution to achieve in this situation?”

2. Assess Stakeholders and Issues with Insight: The ability to identify
the key actors (in government, the donor/international agency community
civil society, business and communities) involved in a complex issue,
assess their interests and capabilities to affect the outcome on the issue,
the arguments and incentives most likely to influence them, and their views
on current or potential involvement of a woman leader’s organization.

3. Choose Appropriate Institutional Role(s): The ability to select and
frame the role the organization will play, as convener, facilitator, mediator,
advocate, source of technical expertise, partner, funder, etc. Other actors
must see the organization’s role and actions as being legitimate and
potentially helpful. The role may have to shift subtly or swiftly in response
to changes in the situation and/or in the set of actors involved.

4. Develop Sound Strategy: The ability to plan and structure a process
for advancing an organization’s goal through interaction with other actors.
Strategy includes the selection of tools/approaches (persuasion, advocacy,
negotiation, coalition and consensus building), sequencing (whom to talk
to in what order), and substantive choices (what facts, proposals, options
and questions to explore with individuals and groups during the process).

5. Engage Effectively with Key Stakeholders: The ability to communicate,
negotiate, advocate, facilitate and/or mediate effectively with other actors
to advance the goal, taking account of their personalities and life histories,
professional and institutional roles, cultural norms, relationships and
histories with other actors. This is a personal skill set for the woman leader,
but it is also important for her to know when to deploy other members of
her institution and/or other national or international actors, to advocate,
negotiate, mediate and/or facilitate with specific entities.