On October 3-6, 2007, in a retreat held outside Monrovia, the Leadership Project gathered together a diverse array of high-level Liberian leaders for a workshop on Strengthening Governmental Collaborative Capacity in a New Liberia. The workshop, the third in a series of reconciliation and capacity-building training events conducted by the Project, was in response to recent tensions among the various Liberian parties and between executive and legislative leaders that have impeded Liberia's reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Attended by Liberian legislative leaders, deputy ministers of government, and party leaders, the workshop's objective was to contribute to the restoration of trust among key Liberian leaders, to help these leaders develop a common vision for the way forward, and to establish a sustainable collaborative leadership network to insure the realization of this vision.
In a post-conflict society like Liberia, there is an attitude of "winner take all," with little sense of shared interests or of the need for collaboration. The protagonists also need to rebuild trust, establish working relationships, open up lines of communications and dialogue, and agree on the "rules of the game," of power sharing. The Leadership Project's workshop addressed all of these issues through interactive simulations, role-playing, and negotiation exercises that not only impart negotiations and communications skills, but help to break down the barriers between former adversaries and to strengthen their social cohesion.
The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (pictured above, left), attended the last session of the workshop, congratulating Leadership Director Howard Wolpe (pictured above, right) for the success of the workshop, and said: "This has been a useful exercise for me . . . I like the diverse nature of the group (and) it helps bring us together and achieve our reconciliation goals." She urged the Wilson Center to continue its leadership initiative and to integrate its training process with the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy and other development efforts being funded by the international community.