Our impact

The Global Leadership Academy's objective is to enable change on a personal, organisational, and systemic level. Our programmes take an emergent approach to change – we don’t formulate the objectives for change initiatives, instead, we provide an enabling space where new ideas can be sparked, networks created and paths to change tried and tested. 

Below are just a few examples of the change initiatives that our members have brought to life as a result of their participation in our programmes.

Stories of Change

“I am more open and accepting to others and I explore more by learning.”

Minea Tim, Executive Director of Kdei Karuna, Participant of the Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work 1

Prototypes & Projects

The Kadavu prototype

How to increase local resiliency of island communities?

The group prototyped approaches to community resilience in island communities. In this regard, the prototyping team has focused on Kadavu in Fiji which includes about 70 villages, and narrowed the focus down to two priorities: Sustainable livelihoods and renewable energy.

Sustainable Oceans Lab

A Flourishing South Africa

A Flourishing South Africa brought to life multiple activities aimed at revitalizing the national vision 2030 and Ubuntu as a powerful connection point for South African society. Lab participant Louise van Rhyn and colleagues have run a series of Business in Education forums linking their work to Vision 2030 as well the SDGs – efforts they say would not have happened without the Lab. At least 1,200 people have been impacted by this commitment to Vision 2030.

Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

The Kanan Kay Alliance and Future of Fish Prototype

How to strengthen and model multi-stakeholder initiatives around complex small-scale fisheries management?

Kanan Kay Alliance and Future of Fish are working together to address the challenge of how to strengthen and model multi-stakeholder initiatives around complex small-scale fisheries management. The prototype is looking at whether the Kanan Kay Alliance could be a model for other multi-stakeholder alliances looking at community based oceans management and how lessons learnt might apply to other initiatives.

Sustainable Oceans Lab

The Integrated Oceans Management (IOM) practitioners group

How to support the development and implementation of national Integrated Oceans Management in international and regional contexts?

The focus of this prototype was to set up an IOM Practitioner group with the aim to support development and implementation of national IOM in international and regional contexts. A first output of this practitioners group was a discussion paper on the challenges of multi-stakeholder engagement in IOM.

Sustainable Oceans Lab

Eileen Fisher Inc.

Eileen Fisher Inc., a leading innovator in women’s clothing, was inspired by the Lab to aim for 100% sustainability by 2020 and, in the longer term, to transform the entire fashion industry (one of the planet’s highest-polluting industries). The company is now a triple bottom line company, setting not just financial targets, but environmental and internal/external social targets as well. They are currently in the process of strategic planning work related to these and in January 2016 received their B-Corp certification.

Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

The Sargasso Sea and Fiji Prototype

EBSAs and how to mitigate impacts from industry?

The prototype of this group was a develop a process to involve industries in the assessment of industry impacts in ecologically sensitive marine areas and in respective mitigation measures to limit the negative impact.

Sustainable Oceans Lab

Conversatories – Towards an Ecosystem of Civic Learning

Contributing to a "Civic Learning Ecosystem", based on broader social and environmental values, such as those included in the GNH concept, Lab participant Fredrik Bjork has developed a conscious dialogue space – Conversatories – that brings together diverse actors and people in a learning atmosphere. More than 20 such events have taken place already in Malmö, elsewhere in Sweden and in Italy.

Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

Monitoring and evaluation


Measuring performance and evaluating impact of programmes that seek to inspire long-term, systemic changes is a challenging undertaking.

To assess the impact of our work, we have developed a comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation framework which reviews the relevance of our methods, the validity of our Theory of Change and the suitability of our cooperation models. Learnings and insights from our evaluation processes are continuously fed into our work to improve our services and review our methodological claims.  

In 2018, our cooperation partner New York University ran an expansive study of GLAC’s accumulated impact between 2014 and 2016 based on participants’ self-reports and additional written and audiovisual material. The study comes to the conclusion that Labs “do what they say they are going to do”. Intermediate outcomes of the Labs show strong achievement: Participants report that their leadership skills improved and they gained a deeper understanding of complex challenges in the field of development, as well as of the complexity of solutions needed to meet those challenges. While organisational and systemic outcomes are often difficult to attribute causally to the Labs – a challenge that many development programmes are grappling with –, the research also confirms that participants report actively transferring their new skills to their organisational environment and some initiate systemic change in or through their organisations. This evidence is particularly interesting as the researchers note that making the leap to home organisations is difficult to achieve, as indicated in numbers of a 2008 World Bank study on its training programmes.

According to another study by USAID (2018), many international development projects and training programmes are not faithfully implemented and invest little effort into collecting and analyzing data. Hence, the NYU study on GLAC’s Leadership and Innovation Labs emphasizes that GLAC’s engagement in conducting evaluations, which critically examine if Labs works and how they can be improved, is indicative of GLAC’s commitment to learning and improving. The researchers note that the uniqueness of Leadership and Innovation Labs makes it difficult to compare their efficacy to other development programs. The latter mostly employ standard training and workshop methodologies, while in contrast, Leadership and Innovation Labs intertwine the development of innovative solutions, leadership development and dialogue between very stakeholders with different perspectives.
The researchers conclude that the “focus on hands-on and applied learning activities, as well as the direct prototyping of change initiatives likely offer a comparative advantage […] for seeing intermediate outcomes”, as their 2018 study of GLAC’s programmes confirms.