The mission leadership team (MLT) will reflect numerous concepts and cultures of leadership. Correctly approached and cultivated, this diversity will be an obvious strength for both the MLT and the mission as a whole. It is important to invest in developing and forging a professional, inclusive, committed, dynamic and enduring team. All peace operations generate continuous challenges, surprises and frictions for their leaders, and these need to be tackled and overcome as a team. For the MLT to work well together, its individual members must first demonstrate inter-cultural competence.
Teambuilding should be prioritized, planned and creative. Small and recurring efforts count. The focus should not just be on formal and scheduled occasions, but also on building the team a little every day, and in every encounter within the MLT.
The exact composition of the MLT will vary depending on the specific type of mission and its requirements. Integrated and multidimensional missions are typically led by the Head of Mission (HoM) or Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG). This core team consists of the Deputy SRSG (Political); the Deputy SRSG-Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator (DSRSG-RC/HC); the Force Commander (FC), the Police Commissioner (PC); the mission’s Chief of Staff and the Director or Chief of Mission Support. It is very often reinforced by other section heads such as Human Rights, Gender, Strategic Communications and Security.
Whatever the chosen format, the MLT is responsible, at the operational level, for implementing the mission’s mandate through the coordinated planning and execution of the many tasks required to achieve the strategic end state – that is, the mission’s overarching vision. To achieve this vision, each MLT member must understand their individual role and responsibilities.
Head of Police
• Operational command and control over all UN police personnel and units in the mission
• Responsible for establishing the police chain of command
• Primary interface between the mission and the UN Country Team and Humanitarian Country Team
• Responsible for the planning and coordination of humanitarian and development activities, and for maintaining close contact and cooperation with all relevant agencies.
Chief of Staff (COS)
• Responsible for the coherent and efficient management of the integrated mission across all organizational units
• Supports the SRSG in executing his/her management and control functions to fulfil the mission’s mandate
• Ensures the coordinated running of the mission’s control structures to allow the MLT to make informed decisions and adapt effectively to changing contexts
Head of Military
• Responsible for the deployment, control and command of all UN military personnel and units across the mission
• Responsible for establishing the military chain of command
Director/Chief of Mission Support (DMS/CMS)
• Ensures the provision of support to all mission units, including undisrupted supply chains and resource management
• Key advisor to the MLT concerning financial resource management in support of the mission’s mandate
• Responsible for supporting the HOM in strategic political engagement
• Provides leadership in the planning and implementation of the mission mandate
Special Representative of the Secretary-General or Head of Mission (SRSG/HOM)
Depending on the mandate, the role of the HoM can be seen on three levels:
• Lead political representative of the international community through the mandated authority of the Security Council and the Secretary-General. The HOM thus also provides political and strategic direction to the MLT
• Head of the UN peacekeeping operation and responsible for all of its mandated activities as well as the management of the mission’s resources.
• Coordinator of all UN activities and programmes beyond the peacekeeping and political/security tasks.
Civilian leaders provide the general and political direction and set mission-level strategic objectives. The uniformed components plan and execute their operational contributions in order to achieve those ends. At the same time, it is important for the uniformed components to be conscious of the dynamics of political priorities and considerations, and to understand that these are not always compatible with preferred operational practices and options. Uniformed leaders need to be sensitive and imaginative within their professional domains and identify ways for the military and police instruments to sustain the political process. In essence, they need to be officers with acute political and diplomatic antennae.
Developing the capacity to lead, then, is about developing the collective level and capacity to produce shared results, whereby everyone engaged must and does fill a leading role in some fashion. Given this, it may also be useful to clarify some aspects that are core to this study. The competing issues which need engagement by senior leaders are sometimes technical in nature, requiring ‘either/or’ technical solutions. More often they are ever-present tensions or polarities that require shared ‘both/and’ attention.