Engaging leadership to deliver transformational change

Engaging leadership to deliver transformational change

To deliver an effective transformational change programme, it is critical to ensure a clear strategic vision is outlined, or an acceptance of the need to formulate this vision at the very least. It needs recognition of where the organisation is at now and the work that’s required to take it forward and realise that vision.

This vision needs to be a shared vision, right across the leadership team and beyond. When it comes to government organisations such as the police, their first duty is the safety and security of the population. This, therefore, has to be the bedrock of any transformational change programme.

Transformational change can be a daunting prospect for those who would be responsible for delivering it. People know they want the change, but the task at hand can be seen to be enormous, too complex, and bringing too many risks. This can cause a sort of organisational paralysis, particularly when the change goes against cultural norms and the traditional way of doing things.

Change in itself presents a huge operational risk. When change occurs dynamically and quickly from what people have been used to, this can form a barrier for people when it comes to adopting new systems and operating procedures. Strong leadership is required from the top-down – ensuring the necessary corporate communications are in place which lets people know, both publicly and politically,  why the change is necessary, how people will benefit from the change and the potential implications from not implementing that change.

The complexities of transformational change in post-conflict environments

Achieving the buy-in from the necessary leadership figures can be particularly challenging in post-conflict countries. In the case of Libya, which is still feeling the effects of 50 years of Gaddafi rule followed by nine years of internal conflict and strife, there is a great deal of infrastructure building required to facilitate transformational change. This means that leadership has to be committed to the longevity of the project, which could be as much as 20 years, in order to bring prosperity to the population.

Given the instability of the political platform in this type of environment, it can be difficult to reach a consensus at the highest level of leadership, and therefore commit to the timeframe required to deliver meaningful change.

The security environment presents additional risks. In Libya, there is a footprint of ex-combatants and mercenaries and tensions between the east and the west for military power and control of the country remain.

This reinforces the importance of understanding and assimilating the culture. Only then can you build the strong relationships with key stakeholders required to even get a reform programme off the ground. The culture needs to be ready to understand and accept the transformational change with everybody feeling as though they are part of it, owns it and believes in it.

Referring back to the example of Libya, there is a widespread desire to improve the day to day lives of citizens, a want for peace, security and stability and a hunger to embrace the change required to make it happen. The reality is that, as with organisations of any kind, there are winners and losers out of change. While there is a large ground-level presence who are eager for change, there are some who will be fearful of what the future holds for them and their power base.

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons: Raising awareness of exploitation

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and its victims across the globe.

Trafficking is a complex issue which Rose Partners has first-hand experience of from training police services to writing the new Libyan police strategy to help combat illegal migration and organised crime in North Africa.  Better policing is important, but we recognise it is only one of many things needed to tackle this huge global problem. According to the United Nations, 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries in 2018. However, the likelihood is that there will be a far greater number of victims, according to Specialist Policing Consultant Colin Carswell.

‘There is a horrific level of exploitation of people and the scale of the problem is probably frighteningly more than any estimate,’ Colin said. ‘There is a general assumption, certainly here in the UK, that this is in the sex setting. While this is absolutely true, it extends far wider than that.

Colin served in the Metropolitan Police for 31 years and became involved in human trafficking investigations from 2008. One particular investigation he was involved with resulted in the conviction of more than 100 gang members who had been responsible for trafficking more than 1,000 Romanian children across Europe for things like begging, stealing, benefit fraud and sexual exploitation.

Colin has also held a capacity-building role with the Met and UK government, before going on to advisory and consultancy roles, including delivering training in Kazakhstan on behalf of the UN. He believes that raising awareness is the key to tackling the problem across the world.

‘Globally there is a lack of awareness of what human trafficking is, what it looks like and how it manifests itself in societies. Victims can get pulled into it by the draw of a better life – not to make millions, but to live a reasonable existence – some of the work might not be seen as a better life, but if you’ve got no work then you’ll take it.

‘Then there’s the push factors such as poverty, corruption, crime and conflict, whereby people are seeking to leave the area they live in. Lifting people out of poverty, as well as recognising and helping people distressed in areas of conflict would all have a significant impact in reducing global exploitation.

‘In Romania, the kids and their families had no choice – we raided 34 houses linked to the gangs and found military-grade weaponry like AK47s and armour-piercing ammunition. The gangs have control over their lives as nobody can resist that kind of coercion.

‘There’s also horrific exploitation which takes place in North Africa, with people travelling from sub-Saharan Africa in search of a better life. Young men and women can be sold in slave markets and put to work on things like building projects in order to fund the next leg of their journey.’

Knock-on benefits of tackling human trafficking

Preventing or taking people out of these situations is the right thing to do by any measure of morality. By tackling the organised criminal gangs who perpetrate these crimes, there is a knock-on benefit to wider society, including identifying further criminal activity and mitigating the billions of pounds lost from the economy to these activities.

Colin has been involved in investigating county lines gangs and sees parallels between trafficking domestically and internationally.

‘The gangs involved in human trafficking don’t care what they do or who they do it to,’ Colin added. ‘It’s very often the case they’ll also be involved in drugs trafficking and sometimes tax evasion, cigarette smuggling and benefit fraud.

‘Using county lines as a drug trafficking example, it’s the same method as trafficking girls into the country from eastern Europe. You’ll have a young, vulnerable person, looking to better themselves, who gets sucked into the gang but is being duped the whole time. They’ll be selling drugs for the gang and then be subjected to a set-up ‘robbery’, culminating in them owing a debt to the gang.’

How far have we come?

Much of the progress in combating human trafficking has been made in the past 10-20 years. It was in 2000 that the UN codified human trafficking in the Palermo protocol, and only 10 years ago the EU recognised criminal exploitation as a form of human trafficking.

‘There’s talk about eradicating it, but that’s unlikely to happen because ultimately humans can sometimes be bad and greedy people. However, simply having these conversations is a sign of progress – recognising there’s a problem, understanding the problem and government bodies doing something about the problem.’