UNITED NATIONS LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE

Photo of Secretary-General and members of his Executive Office holding a leadership dialogue on 31 October 2018.
Secretary-General António Guterres and members of his Executive Office holding a leadership dialogue on 31 October 2018.

Beginning in 2013, managers in the Secretariat, host a yearly conversation with their direct reports related to the ethical challenges we face in our day-to-day work. UN Ethics Office provides managers with a Leadership Dialogue Guide and a model presentation as well as the participants with a Participant’s Guide. The topics vary from year to year, based on the evolving focus of the Organization.

In this dialogue, managers discuss with their direct reports what to do, where to get assistance and our roles as staff members in handling ethical dilemmas. The decisions we make are critical to our collective success.

Each head of department or mission leads the first Leadership Dialogue session with his/her direct reports. Following that initial session, those direct reports schedule and lead the next sessions. The dialogues have been planned to occur in a “cascading” fashion, until all managers have engaged their staff in a Leadership Dialogue.

Upon completion of the programme, respective Executive or Administrative Officers are requested to submit staff participation statistics for their respective Departments or Offices to the Ethics Office within a month of completion.

The UN Ethics Office provides all materials and detailed instructions.

LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE 2020

Between now and 30 November 2020, all managers in the Secretariat are asked to host a one-and-a-half-hour ‎dialogue session with their direct reports on the topic, “Acknowledging Dignity through Civility: How can I communicate for a more harmonious workplace?”. This year’s Leadership Dialogue is based on the Secretary-General's emphasis on our responsibility to create a more effective and harmonious work environment. This year’s Leadership Dialogue is part of the Secretary-General's initiative on fostering civility at all levels within the UN. It continues the work done by the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) on the same topic through its “C3” (Civility, Communication, Community) workshops and Civility Cafés.

Each Head of Entity should lead the first Leadership Dialogue session for his or her direct reports. Following that initial session, those direct reports will schedule and lead the next sessions. The dialogues should occur in this “cascading” fashion, until all managers have engaged their staff in a Leadership Dialogue. Upon completion of the activities, respective Executive or Administrative Officers or designates are requested to submit to the Ethics Office final participation statistics for their respective Entity by 31 December 2020.

All materials needed for the 2020 Leadership Dialogue are provided in the three Documents for Leadership Dialogue 2020 links directly below. Detailed instructions for the 2020 Leadership Dialogue activities may be found in the Leader’s Guide. The Guide additionally contains feedback forms for Entities to complete and return to the Ethics Office. To open or download the document(s), click on the link(s) provided. If you cannot download the materials, or if you have reviewed the materials and still have questions, please contact the Ethics Office directly.

We have all been extremely challenged this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic; but through it all, UN staff have persevered to ensure the delivery of our work and the UN’s mandate. In delivering this year’s Dialogue, please continue to observe measures, such as social distancing, recommended in your duty station and utilize creative means such as video/audio conferencing through Microsoft Teams or similar tools.

The most important aspect is that you enjoy the session. Having been conducted since 2013, feedback on the Leadership Dialogue initiative has been very positive. We are confident that you will have a similar experience regarding the 2020 Leadership Dialogue.

DOCUMENTS FOR LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE 2020

The following three documents contain all materials needed by participants for the 2020 Leadership Dialogue:

See also Ethics Training Documents and Resources.

ARCHIVES

The following are Leadership Dialogue guides from previous years:


LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE FAQs

Q. Why should I do this activity?

A. All Heads of Entity and managers in the United Nations Secretariat are asked to host a one-and-a-half-hour session with their direct reports on this year’s topic, “Acknowledging Dignity through Civility: How can I communicate for a more harmonious workplace?”. All Heads of Entity will be asked to confirm to the Ethics Office that their managers have completed their Leadership Dialogue sessions. The principles of dignity and civility are essential to promoting a healthy, rewarding, vibrant and productive work environment. A key dimension of practicing civility is to create a respectful environment for providing constructive feedback and for challenging ideas, not people. This year’s Dialogue is an opportunity to shift mindsets and to explore a new possible dynamic of workplace interactions.

Q. I am expected to lead the dialogue for my team, but I am not a great trainer or public speaker. Do I have to do this activity?

A. Don’t worry! The Leader’s Guide was designed with you in mind. Just follow the Guide that has been provided, and you will find that it is relatively easy to lead your session. We have also provided a PowerPoint presentation to help facilitate and guide the discussions. The most important thing you can do, besides being prepared, is to be honest and open with your team during this discussion. While the Guide provides practical examples under each topic, for your ease of reference, you may wish to think about examples from your own experience or that of your colleagues as this may make the session more authentic. You can also ask for the assistance of a facilitator to make the session more participatory.

Q. What if I cannot answer all the questions raised during the session?

A. The Leader’s Guide provides summary points that should address most questions that may be raised. However, it is entirely possible that your staff will ask questions or raise issues not previously considered. This is a good opportunity for the group to consider the issue and reach its own answers. For matters that you continue to struggle with, document the question(s) and consult with the Ethics Office. After your consultation, you can go back to your staff and share helpful information.

Q. I am ready to conduct my session, but my manager has not yet done his/her session with our team. Can I go ahead with my own session?

A. The Leadership Dialogue is designed in a “management cascade” style, which anticipates that you will lead your session once your manager has conducted his/her session with you. However, you may go ahead with your session if you are ready.

Q. Can I ask another manager to do these sessions instead of me?

A. No. The purpose of the dialogue session is to allow you and your direct reports to engage in a discussion with each other about the importance of conflicts of interest and why they matter. Having someone, other than the manager, lead the discussion does not achieve the purpose of the activity.

Q. My manager has scheduled the Leadership Dialogue session. As we do this every year, can I skip one session?

A. You should not skip a session, as the topic is different every year. The Leadership Dialogue began in 2013 with conversations about What does it mean to be an international civil servant?; in 2014, the topic was Treating each other with respect and tolerance; in 2015, it was Fulfilling our mission: Taking individual responsibility; in 2016, the focus was on Fraud awareness and prevention: How do I fit in?; in 2017, Standards of conduct: What’s expected of me?; in 2018, the topic was on Speaking up: When does it become whistle-blowing?; and in 2019, the topic was on Conflicts of Interest – Why Do They Matter? This year’s topic, Acknowledging Dignity through Civility: How can I communicate for a more harmonious workplace? is based on the Secretary-General's emphasis on our responsibility to create a more effective and harmonious work environment. This year’s Leadership Dialogue is part of the Secretary-General's initiative on fostering civility at all levels within the UN. It continues the work done by the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) on the same topic through its “C3” (Civility, Communication, Community) workshops and Civility Cafés. In addition, participating in the Leadership Dialogue session offers yet another opportunity for you and all colleagues to exchange thoughts, experiences, challenges and solutions with your team and manager.

Q. How can I learn more about ethics standards and issues?

A. Feel free to download and view additional information from the Ethics Office website. In particular, you are encouraged to download Putting Ethics to Work: A Guide for UN Staff (pdf icon) and The Roadmap: A Staff Member’s Guide to Finding the Right Place (pdf icon).

For questions or concerns, contact the UN Ethics Office

Helpline: +1-917-367-9858 or email: ethicsoffice@un.org.