This article presents the author’s personal reflections from experiences over the past thirty years, working at the intersection of leadership development, complexity, and conflict: a journey from corporate law, the British Army, and armed conflict, through the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US-led coalition’s intervention in Iraq, emergency humanitarian response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and violence reduction and post-conflict reconciliation in Papua New Guinea, to a Jordan-based international peacebuilding organization that supports grassroots peacebuilding efforts in fifty-two countries, and finally a return home to Scotland. It is a journey of naïveté, hubris, curiosity, and an attempt at sense-making. It describes the application of peacebuilding theories in practice in diverse contexts. Although it does not purport to offer any solutions, it concludes that courageous leadership is needed: to embrace conflict as a source of energy for positive, constructive, generative development; to resist the seductive drama and hero-leadership of focusing only on present crises; and to focus more investment on upstream prevention.



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