In today’s interconnected world, leadership challenges are complex. However, so are the many theories, ideas and practices around leadership development promising  to overcome such challenges. These popular practices of leadership are frequently confined within the ideas of “who” a leader is, rather than “how” one can practice leadership. These perceptions are also often tied to the importance and requirements of power and formal authority to lead.  

Nepal faces an acute leadership crisis. Frustrated with high poverty and inequality, local communities nationwide are losing hope and becoming more dependent on external support. The authorities in the public, private and social sectors, on the other hand, have largely failed to collaborate in creating a suitable environment and citizen capacity for addressing these flaring issues. Most unfortunately, the colossal innovation potential of youth, who comprise half the nation, remains largely untapped. In fact, 1500 youth leave Nepal daily for foreign opportunities, despite 5 of them dying each day due to harsh working conditions abroad.

Nepal Leadership Academy (NLA) is a signature component of the Daayitwa campaign, which envisions a resilient and thriving Nepal where all citizens embrace their responsibilities to collectively transform societal challenges into innovative opportunities. We believe that leadership can be discovered, learnt, and practiced. Our beliefs are guided by the emerging emphasis on the psychological intricacies of leadership—the mental modes from which effective leadership operates. With this belief, NLA builds leadership capacity in change-agents—who are guided by the shared values of collaborating, innovating, and serving and the shared principles of community, justice, and sustainability—to architect effective policy, business and civic solutions that tackle the most grueling adaptive challenges. NLA conducts research, develops curriculums, and provides in-practice leadership coaching to policy, business, and social innovators.

Our courses and workshops, designed collaboratively through 18 months of action research by Dr. Pukar Malla, NLA’s Executive Coach and former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Center for Public Leadership, with distinguished professors Marshall Ganz and Ronald Heifetz at the Harvard Kennedy School, build on globally renowned leadership practices such as adaptive leadership, community organizing, and public narrative.


NLA’s genesis can be traced to the Nepal Leadership Lab at Daayitwa (learn more about Daayitwa here), which offered leadership courses that aspired to nurture competent leaders by not only invigorating their zeal to lead, but also by providing them with practical tools to sharpen their competencies.

In 2013-2014, Dr. Pukar Malla, former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Center for Public Leadership, collaborated with Professors Marshall Ganz and Ronald Heifetz at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to create a leadership framework built on Nepal’s socio-cultural and political context, as well as current needs. The framework, LEAD, emphasizes four core leadership capabilities: Listening to oneself; Empathizing with others; Analyzing adaptive issues; and Doing collaborative work.

Over the past five years, NLA has provided over 60  customized leadership courses to more than 800 innovators working in civic engagement, governance innovation and entrepreneurship on leadership practices such as adaptive leadership, community organizing, governance innovation, and public narrative. These course participants have included Daayitwa Public Service Fellows, World Economic Forum Global Shapers, senior government officials, leaders of political parties, bureaucrats, NGO representatives, executive directors of private companies and banks along with high school and college level students and student leaders.

In addition to the courses, NLA has also organized various events to initiate and continue cross-sectoral dialogue on effective leadership practices within Nepal’s context. In 2016, we organized a national Nepal Leadership Conference with Former Chief Justice Rt. Hon. Kalyan Shrestha as the Chief Guest and included the participation of Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla and Former Minister of Health Hon. Gagan Thapa. We have also facilitated five leadership-focused interactive conversations in Kathmandu with 30 to 50 participants at each event and with speakers ranging from Hon. Member of Parliament, Kamala B.K. and former Minister of Commerce, Hon. Ganesh Man Pun to former Prime Minister, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai. Lastly, we have hosted a series of leadership development sessions with 103 youths across Nepal selected as U.S. Embassy Youth Council (USYC) members.