Data for Leaders (D4L): Practical Skills for Data-Informed Decision Making

Data for Leaders (D4L): Practical Skills for Data-Informed Decision Making


IREX’s Data for Leaders (D4L) methodology is a comprehensive approach to help leaders translate data into informed and ethical decisions.

Unlike traditional data literacy trainings, this curriculum practices skills beyond collecting, cleaning, or visualizing data. Instead, Data for Leaders explores how to turn data into action, weighing data with other considerations like values, biases, impact, and empathy. In doing so, leaders gain confidence in the following:

  • Communicating data-informed decisions effectively and empathetically.
  • Balancing insights with other priorities, political economies, and pressures.
  • Drawing meaningful conclusions from data by interpreting it accurately.
  • Evaluating the quality of data to ensure it reflects gender equity and social inclusion considerations.
The assumption that whenever you have clean data then you will always and automatically make a right decision is not necessarily true. Issa Mbaga, Tanzania Ministry of Health official and 2014 YALI Fellow

How it Works

IREX facilitates in-person and virtual workshops of Data for Leaders content, contextualized to the unique experiences and perspectives of participants. The trainings last between 2-4 days and are suitable for a broad audience of leadership types including the following:

  • Emerging and established public and civic leaders.
  • People who influence other people’s decisions, like educators and journalists.
  • Youth seeking to engage more actively in community issues.
  • Entrepreneurs and business leaders promoting positive social change in their work.

Recognizing that leaders are experts in their respective environments, D4L puts them in the driver’s seat of how they engage with data and how it can be incorporated to complement the decision-making process through fun, practical, and engaging activities. D4L is designed to have participants engage and learn from each other and reflect on their own experiences to inform how to navigate an increasingly data-driven world.

Facilitators avoid training methods that rely on the memorization of concepts and instead set a learning environment where leaders can apply and reflect on how to incorporate specific skills intentionally in their work. Methods that foster this learning environment include the following:

  • Presenting concepts through group discussions so leaders can share and learn from each other’s diverse perspectives.
  • Collaborative exercises where leaders can navigate the application of specific skills and concepts in a group setting.
  • Incorporating current data and research relevant to common issues they are working to address.
  • Modular curriculum design to be highly customizable and support specific skill areas of interest and need.
  • Setting a safe and inclusive space for leaders to contribute to and explore new concepts authentically.
The training was very valuable because the examples used reflect real life experiences. Participant of D4L Training


The Data for Leaders curriculum teaches the following skills:

  • Identifying an opportunity to make a data-informed decision
  • Drawing meaningful conclusions from data
  • Measuring data-informed decisions’ effectiveness
  • Communicating data-informed decisions
  • Evaluating data quality
  • Balancing data-informed decisions with other priorities

For more information about each skill, reference the Data-Informed Decisions Skills and Subskills.pdf.

The training gives insights into the methods of decision-making, with data being a practical and solid foundation in the process. Participant of D4L Training


  • In Ukraine, IREX used D4L to train government officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports about evidence-based policymaking using research about national youth engagement. 87% of participants improved their skills in incorporating gender equality and social inclusion considerations into their decisions.
  • In Jordan, IREX used D4L to train Jordanian administrators working to improve teacher training programs about successfully leveraging available data to inform priorities. 93% of participants improved their skill in drawing meaningful conclusions from data.
  • In Kenya, IREX used D4L activity recordings to compliment a public dashboard and webinar discussions with civil society leaders on government resource allocation in response to COVID-19. 100% of respondents who access the material indicated sharing it with their organization or network.

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