Humanitarian Leadership

A Research Protocol to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Leadership Training Program Aimed at Enhancing Leadership Skills for Humanitarians

  • Vincenzo Bollettino Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
  • Allyson Brown Kenney
  • Sarah Schwartz
  • Gilbert Burnham
Keywords: Leadership, Humanitarian, NGO, Evaluation


Leadership skills are essential to addressing today’s humanitarian challenges. While leadership training programs abound in the private sector and within the military, the same is not true for the humanitarian field. International donors have recognized this gap and have recently invested in formal leadership training programs for aid workers. This paper presents a protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of the National NGO Program on Humanitarian Leadership, a leadership training course targeted to humanitarians working for national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide. The protocol establishes a model for evaluating the impact of NNPHL participants’ ability to make decisions about complex challenges in a manner that is consistent with a core set of leadership competencies introduced in the course. The evaluation consists of scenario-based vignettes that the participants answer in order to assess their leadership competencies through a series of illustrative indicators. This paper also includes a discussion of the definition of leadership, both broadly and through the NNPHL course, and the study’s strengths and limitations along with avenues for future research.      

Study Protocols