Strengthening Leadership

In a changing world with growing conservation challenges, dynamic, creative and effective leadership is more critical than ever. Conservation efforts in Africa and around the world need a new generation of conservation leaders who are rooted in their communities, landscapes, and social and political contexts, and who can develop new solutions, locally-based conservation models, and national movements that collectively have the potential to address today’s challenges.

A key component of Maliasili's overall work to support high-impact organizations is strengthening the leadership of those organizations, and in the process building networks of emerging conservation leaders.

We support leadership development through structured modular programs that draws heavily on peer-to-peer learning. These leadership programs generally run for 8-12 months and focus on three key levels of leadership:

  1. Individual self-awareness and personal actions - understanding personal strengths and weaknesses and behaviors.

  2. Leading and managing organizations, including building strong teams that deliver performance.

  3. Leadership within the wider system that organizations operate within, with a focus on collaboration between  multiple different actors and interests.

African Conservation Leadership Network

The African Conservation Leadership Network has emerged since being piloted in 2016, as a collaboration between Maliasili and The Nature Conservancy Africa Program, and now involving 17 leading organizations from four countries. ACLN provides a platform for investing in this new generation of conservation leaders across the region, and helping them grow and work together. The purpose of the ACLN is to achieve greater conservation impact in Africa by improving the quality and effectiveness of leaders of local organizations that work with communities to protect their land, natural resources and livelihoods. Through the ACLN, leaders can connect, develop and maintain relationships through sharing knowledge, information and expertise. The ACLN is also a platform for African conservation leaders to expand their joint influence and to convene strategic thought leaders.


ACLN Forum Summary


From ‘Silverbacks’ to Systems Leaders: Rethinking African conservation leadershiP


ACLN Overview


Building leadership skills in African organizations


WATCH: New African Leadership, Sam Shaba, Honeyguide

WATCH: An overview of ACLN


Other Leadership Initiatives

In 2018, Maliasili partnered with the International Land Coalition to pilot a customized leadership program through ILC’s Africa membership. Modelled on the ACLN structure, this program involved 16 leaders of African civil society organizations working on land rights in six African countries.

Read more about this program and related leadership work:

  • A synopsis of the leadership program published by ILC.

  • Op-ed by Michael Taylor and Fred Nelson on the importance of strengthening civil society leadership in land rights, in PLACE.