At the beginning of October we celebrated our colleagues from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ethiopia Public Health Institute and Zambia Public Health Institute who have taken part in our "Laboratory Leadership" series, exploring and developing their skills in leadership and management in the laboratory environment. The event marked the end to the virtual sessions and celebrated the achievements, friendships and best practises that were gained throughout the workshops.
Through the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, the IHR Strengthening project team, along with delegates from Zambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia, have continued to engage with our Laboratory Leadership Series. The series of 2.5h virtual seminars over 2-4-week intervals aimed to provide skills in solving technical challenges with good leadership and applying this knowledge to lead better, more effective teams through a global pandemic. The series was timely, and delegates saw the importance of having the capacity and skills to lead through an ongoing crisis.
The series was delivered virtually and although there were connectivity difficulties at times, the delivery team's persistence and the benefits of remote network learning resonated with the delegates. One delegate shared, "Virtual events are cost-effective and a great platform to reach people in hard to reach places. Therefore, I will endeavour to try use the platform to reach out to my colleagues on leadership related programs as way to motivate and build stronger for uncertain times. Am looking to see a positive change work culture work force and self-motivated lab leaders in my region".
When asked what changes the delegates would make to their practice as a result of the event, one delegate said, "As a manager, I need to listen more from staff, get feedback, include all the staff in the change process and be supportive to an individual through the entire process". Another shared, "It's important for us to continue to work together as a team as various levels of leadership exist in every system. Engaging and challenging these various leadership levels will ensure more buy-in into projects embarked upon by the facility".
To celebrate the team's achievements and to create an opportunity where all participating countries could have a chance to share stories, lessons learned, and create networks beyond their own countries, a final joint event was held to celebrate collective successes. The event brought together delegates from Nigeria, Zambia, and Ethiopia and representatives from each country shared their experiences with presentations. IHR project Country Leads from Zambia and Ethiopia also shared inspiring words, emphasising the importance of the series and impact of effective leadership in the world of global public health. And finally, Chikwe Ihekweazu, former Director Genera; of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, spoke to the delegates about his own experience as a leader through the pandemic and what it takes to deliver change effectively.
The delegates shared how essential the leadership series had been, and some spoke of the need to 'unlearn, learn and re-learn' as a cycle to becoming better leaders. The delegates all received professional biographies of other attendees to enable better networking, as well as all the training resources and materials used throughout the course.
Our next steps....
It was particularly inspiring for the delivery team to hear such positive take-home messages from the delegates; as such, and upon the request of the delegates, the team plans to develop a mentoring session to equip the laboratory leaders with skills to provide downstream training of the components learned on the series to their own teams.
Watch this space for the next group of laboratory leaders in the year ahead!