Leadership and Management Development Programme (LMDP)


In late 2008, on the advice of the WCO and its Members, the international donor community recognized the need to support capacity building in the area of leadership and management development. The WCO membership then formally endorsed Leadership and Management as a capacity building priority. From then on, the LMD Programme was established within the WCO Secretariat and began to build its various elements. This resulted in the first version of a 10-day LMD Workshop. It was first delivered to the Customs administration of South Africa in November 2011.

Later on, in 2015, the 6th session of the Capacity Building Committee endorsed the format and content of a 3.5-day Top Executive Retreat (TER) aimed at executive teams of member administrations. The introduction of the Top Executive Retreat was the first successful step towards a broader approach to improve the highest management levels of member administrations and, hopefully, change the overall management culture in the organization.

In 2021, another complementary element - Middle Management Development (MMD) Training - aimed at middle managers of member administrations was developed and endorsed by the 13th session of the Capacity Building Committee.

Furthermore, the LMD Programme developed a Maturity Model to further support Member administrations in understanding their level of maturity in implementing and promoting a Leadership oriented culture.

Since its establishment, the LMD Programme has grown into a comprehensive one with specific ground principles and objectives, unique concepts and approaches, diverse types of support, experts, beneficiary administrations and partnering (donor) organizations.

So far, as of June 2022, around 83 member administrations and 2700 managers of different levels across the globe have benefitted from the LMD Programme’s support. The reported results of this support demonstrate significant progress in development at the organizational, team and individual levels.  

Goals and objectives

The LMD Programme aims to contribute to the modernization of the management culture in the whole organization so that, hopefully, the organization more efficiently and more effectively achieves its vision and delivers its strategy while living its values.

The LMD Programme’s principles are that modern leadership and management start with knowing, leading and managing oneself. Second, it means creating more effective teams based on understanding, trust and openness. Third, it should lead to a happier and more motivated staff that chooses and is enabled to contribute, take responsibility and use their  potential.

Accordingly, the LMD Programme, in its support and cooperation with member administrations, pursues the following aims:  

The first aim of the LMD Programme – at the individual level – is to inspire managers to adopt a leader-manager style. A style that, through knowing yourself, managing yourself and really understanding others, leads to a remarkable and positive impact on others. This modern leader-manager style focuses on developing others by managing staff through a human approach while at the same time being highly demanding on outputs and results. The LMD Programme helps to increase confidence in applying modern leadership attitudes, skills, and behaviour and improve the level of purpose and direction. It also enables enhanced motivation of staff, better results, a better quality of work, the development of staff, more creativity, happiness and energy at the staff level, and improved honesty and integrity levels.

The second aim of the LMD Programme – at the team level – is to create a stronger management team and a positive management culture based on trust and openness. A management team that is not afraid to confront and hold accountable and where honest, open and constructive cooperation is natural. The LMD Programme assists with redirecting focus on a management culture that is based on and encourages trust instead of fear. There is improved accountability, transparency, trust and openness, communication and cooperation, and people are more candid and authentic, talk straight, confront real issues etc.

The third aim of the LMD Programme – at the stakeholders’ level – is to support managers to establish and further enhance partnerships with the key stakeholders through effective engagement practices, negotiations and strategic communication; to promote the organization’s strategy and values in interactions with the stakeholders.

The fourth aim of the LMD Programme – at the organizational level – is to improve strategic management so that in addition to operational performance, the focus and success of the organization in the mid-to-long term is better guaranteed. The LMD Programme helps to establish more emphasis on vision and values, enable successful implementation of strategic issues and big changes, improve integrity and professionalism, redesign organizational culture, enhance change management and more.

Principles of cooperation

The LMD Programme capacity building approach builds on the following key principles, also endorsed by the 11th session of the Capacity Building Committee in 2019: sustainability, ownership and hand-in-hand development.

Sustainability: The LMD Programme aims to support committed Members in developing  and implementing modern, consistent and sustainable leadership and management development.  To produce an organization-wide change in the leadership and management culture, the LMD Programme offers support on three different levels: executive, senior and middle management. Another integral part of the sustainability principle is that the LMD Programme workis with participants on a deeper personal level, allowing them to make more profound changes in themselves and the organization.

Ownership: The LMD Programme aims to work for and with Members that know and understand that building and developing a modern leadership and management culture is a prerequisite for every successful administration. Therefore, the LMD Programme’s support starts with the most important – building trust and creating the right conditions in cooperation with the organization’s top executive management.

Hand-in-hand development: The LMD is a critical element and the leverage for organisational development, which in turn powerfully enables progress in technical areas. That’s why the LMD Programme realizes and wants to take its full responsibility for the hand-in-hand development of both organizational and technical dimensions of member administrations.

LMD support

The LMD Programme provides support to the WCO member administrations, to their executive, senior and middle managers by offering a Top Executive Retreat, an LMD Workshop and Middle Management Development Training, respectively.

The Top Executive Retreat (TER) is the first core element of the LMD Programme’s support. It is a 3.5-day retreat which is delivered to the Commissioner General of a Revenue Authority or the Director General of a Customs administration (CA) and their team of executive managers (up to 10 participants).

This retreat gathers participants in a secluded location where they undergo a process of surprising and profound change. The TER has a strong strategic and organizational development focus, helps in building trust and openness in the executive team and addresses issues on a deep, personal level. The TER agenda is always tailor-made based on the participants’ preliminary inputs.

The LMD Workshop is the second element of the LMD Programme, a 10-day workshop for senior management (max. 20 participants). Participants develop modern leadership skills, attitudes, and behaviour through interactive exercises and individual reflections. The workshop stands on the philosophy of knowing yourself, managing yourself, really understanding others and having a positive impact on others.

Depending on the size of a beneficiary administration, one to three LMD workshops can be delivered.

The content of the LMD Workshop was significantly reviewed and updated in 2019 thanks to the financial support of the SECO-WCO Global Trade Facilitation Programme funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO).

The Middle Management Development (MMD) Training is the new, third element of the LMD Programme. It addresses middle managers by expanding their knowledge, skills and understanding of modern management and developing in them the right behaviour and attitude of a modern manager. This training equips middle managers with a set of fundamental competencies necessary to manage themselves, their teams, stakeholders and the organizational strategy and culture on a daily basis.

Based on the principles of ownership and sustainability, the WCO Secretariat has designed an MMD train-the-trainers workshop that will enable national trainers to deliver the MMD training nationally and regionally.

LMD Advisors

The role of an LMD Advisor requires working on intense, innovative and interactive activities with all management levels of the organization. The LMD Advisor helps participants develop modern leadership and management skills, attitude, and behaviour based on greater awareness and knowing oneself, self-management, a real understanding of others and positively impacting others. Also, the LMD Advisor works on a deep personal level and coaches participants to integrate this knowledge into their daily management and to better contribute to their administration’s organizational development and modernization processes.

The regular expansion of the pool of LMD Advisors allows more and more WCO Members to benefit from the LMD support. For that reason, the LMD Programme (upon the availability of funds) conducts LMD Facilitators Accreditation Workshops that aim to identify and strengthen potentially qualified facilitators who can deliver LMD support in the language requested.

Requests for LMD support

As a WCO member administration, you can express your interest and request support in LMD:

  • during an annual WCO Capacity Building Needs Assessment exercise;
  • during diagnostic missions conducted by WCO experts;
  • by forwarding an official request letter to the WCO Secretariat.

More Information

LMD Publications



For more information about the LMD Programme, please contact Capacity-Building Directorate at capacity.building@wcoomd.org

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