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ActionAid International (AAI)

Head of Governance, Accountability and Leadership Development

About the Role

  • This directorate is at the very heart of ensuring strong leadership, internal accountability and external accountability. In order for AAI to be a successful, growing, learning federation it is crucial that this unit that advises on, coordinates and monitors the organisation’s governance and accountability standards. Our leaders add value both in their own work and how they inspire others. We must give them the tools to work with and the personal development they need in order to be the best they can be. Being of such a fundamental importance, targeting the leaders and institutional dimensions of AAI, this unit is located directly under the CEO;
  • No delegation with countries is planned. Engagement with countries on governance and leadership will be done jointly (through matrix relationship) with the Institutional Development Directorate which will coordinate the development and support implementation of membership development plans which include governance and leadership. The OD resources located within Institutional Development directorate will ensure the OD approach envisaged in the MDP is embedded.

Key Activities

Strategic Management 

  • Serve as a trusted advisor to the CEO and Deputy CEO on issues relating to senior leadership effectiveness, organisational culture and leadership and governance risk including support to the SLT, FLT and International Board as required by the CEO;
  • Sign off on senior leadership appointments and support leadership induction and on-boarding;
  • Ensure effective transition management in key leadership roles across the federation advising country management teams, national boards, CE and Deputy CE;
  • Serves as the focal point for and assist the Chief Executive in processes and standards of Governance across AAI;
  • Champions a values-based, high performance leadership culture change across the Federation working closely with the CEO and in support of Vision 2020;
  • Ensure Federation compliance with agreed international standards for our sector, including meeting reporting requirements.

Leadership Development

  • Federation-wide leadership development strategy – design, development and ownership in the Federation supporting AAI strategy and transformation priorities;
  • Ensure AAI is aligned and up to date with best practices in global leadership development;
  • Custodian of Federation-wide leadership development programmes including SLDP, Women Leadership, Middle Management and Young Leaders Development;
  • Monitor succession and talent management system for senior leaders across the federation;
  • Champion the attraction, retention and development of senior women leaders across the federation;
  • Monitor and mediate conflicts involving board and management teams and in the IS as needed;
  • Provide supervision of the Leadership Advisor in coaching practice and leadership programme design and development;
  • Ensure ethical standards are maintained in coaching and leadership development aligned with international professional standards.


  • Provide strategic leadership in governance within a federal context to CE, International Board and federation members;
  • Serve as the spokesperson for Dual Citizenship and advance AAI’s Internationalisation strategy;
  • Serve as advisor to the CE and International Board in strengthening governance as leadership; providing capacity building facilitation and management-board relationship strengthening initiatives;
  • Oversee Initiative to Strengthen Governance as a key capacity building initiative aimed at developing a shared understanding of AAI governance standards and a culture of mutual accountability;
  • Champion governance support to members and to journey of country programmes to full membership through the overall implementation of Membership Development Process;
  • Facilitate and enable good governance practices across the federation through a network of Governance Focal People;
  • Oversee support to International Board and Committees especially the GBDC.


  • Champion a leadership culture of mutual accountability moving beyond compliance to ownership and commitment. Oversee the implementation of the Accountability Charter;
  • Develop and manage the mutual accountability framework;
  • Influencing the sector externally on issues of standards, compliance and accountability based on the Federation’s learning and experience;
  • Develop fit for purpose and efficient accountability reporting systems that will be owned by Members and serving both internal and external accountability requirements.

People Management

  • Build an effective, high performance team within the unit;
  • Performance management and staff development of both direct reports and staff in extended matrix teams;
  • Management of consultants as required;
  • Monitoring the team’s performance against the agreed organisational standards and ensure that problems are identified and resolved;
  • Supporting both the professional and personal development of the staff ensuring they are able to be proactive on all matters thus maximising and integrating the effectiveness of the service they provide to fulfil corporate goals and plans;
  • Fostering the necessary consultation, communications and good relations across the Federation.

Financial Management Responsibilities

  • Responsible for managing delegated budget responsibility for resources within approved limits. Delegation to other team members can be done but overall responsibility remains with Budget holder;
  • Responsible for preparing activity based budgets and monitoring actual monthly spend against these budgets, including providing relevant accruals and explanations for variances;
  • Responsible for approving all transactions (including amendments) to their budget;
  • Act within the parameters set by the International Secretariat financial policies and procedures.


  • Value Practice – A strong commitment to develop, promote and practice AAI’s vision, mission, values and strategy;
  • Women’s Leadership and Gender – Committed to Gender issues with a strong focus on women’s leadership;
  • Collaboration – Champion cross functional learning, participate (where applicable) in international platforms and cross functional project initiatives within AAI;
  • Accountability – Promoting, practising and contributing to the continuous improvement of transparency and accountability in the federation in line with the AAI Accountability Charter;
  • The role holder will from time to time be required to carry out any other duties that are within the scope of the job.

Person Specification

Education, Language & Qualifications

  • Postgraduate qualification in behavioural science;
  • Certification as a management coach

Essential Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

  • A strong leader with the potential to develop authority, credibility and visibility throughout the organisation;
  • Demonstrated theoretical and practical rigour in Governance, Leadership and Accountability;
  • Experienced OD practitioner managing change and transformation projects in complex environments;
  • Proven ability to deliver and coordinate projects within multifunctional teams and international teams, where there is no direct line authority;
  • Good people management skills and ability to work in a team across a large organisation and distance manage;
  • Experience in a large INGO working in a human rights based environment;
  • Understanding and commitment to feminist leadership and women’s rights issues and multicultural facilitation.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

  • Experience serving as a board member and or consulting to boards;
  • Experience as an organisational director/senior executive role;
  • Professional registration as a psychologist with experience of supervision of interns/professional practitioners.

Competency Profile

  • Strategic Perspective – Demonstrate understanding of the Organisation’s priorities and goals and effectively analyses complex problems;
  • Change Management – Uses effective strategies to facilitate organisation change initiatives and overcome resistance to change by involving others, listening and building commitment;
  • Decisiveness – Prefers quick and appropriate actions in many management situations;
  • Leading Employees – Attracts, motivates, and develops employees;
  • Building Collaborative Relationships – Builds productive working relationships with co-workers and external parties, whilst valuing people of different backgrounds, cultures and demographics;
  • Communication – Expresses ideas clearly and concisely; disseminates information about decisions and plans;
  • Leading with Purpose – Has personal direction and is not easily sidetracked by details or workload;
  • Credibility – Acts in accordance with stated values; follows through on promises; uses ethical considerations to guide decisions and actions;
  • Taking Initiative – Takes charge and capitalizes on opportunities.

Reporting Lines

  • Reporting to: Chief Executive (CE), AAI
  • Direct Reports:
    • 2x Governance Advisors
    • 1x Accountability & Transparency Advisor
    •  1x Leadership Advisor