"Leadership is not only about [managing] people and goals, but individual awareness is key."

This sentiment was one of the key lessons expressed during the first week-long gathering of a second cohort of the African Conservation Leadership Network (ACLN), a joint initiative between The Nature Conservancy and Maliasili. The ACLN was created to provide support to a new generation of African conservation leaders who are are developing leading, locally-based conservation solutions. To reach their full potential, these emerging leaders need to develop their personal leadership skills, build strong organizations that can sustain and grow their work, and deepen new collaborations with each other, and with the wider conservation field.

During 2016-2017, ACLN convened the first cohort from a select group of eight African organizations working on community-based conservation and natural resource governance in Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia. The cohort met for dynamic peer-learning seminars three times from August 2016 to September 2017, which focused on individual leadership, leading organizations, and systems-level collaborations.

In May 2018, the second cohort began the programme at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, where seventeen leaders from nine African organisations working in Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia and Zambia. This is the first of the first of three seminars to be held over the next year. Facilitated by the Maliasili team, the first week laid the foundations for personal learning and leadership- delving deeply into self-awareness and the impact of personality on leadership style. Participants quickly observed that this was “not the typical workshop,” and were challenged to focus their learning inwards.


Coming out of a week of interactive sessions, cohort members reflected on the experience:

“Learning about different temperaments can yield greater output. It was a great reflection on the critical role that each one of us play in the bigger team.”

“I learnt about managing myself. It was good to see understand in more detail my own strengths and how to exploit them. As a leader, it helped me to understand my team better, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and how to exploit these.”

“Listening and learning from your team is critical to enabling their strengths. In the past I knew it was important but not [how] I affected this. It’s also very important for leaders to give themselves space and time.”


The ACLN strives to elevate mid-career professionals, helping them to realize their leadership potential, investing in this new generation of conservation leaders across the region, and helping them grow and work together. Believing that an investment in leadership will improve organizational performance and durability, build relationships and collaborations, and ultimate scale the impact of effective conservation models across Africa. Each successive cohort will build off the success of the precious, building a trusted network primed for impact.