Why ILA? Connecting, Connections, and Connectivity
This is my first year in this amazing role at ILA. I was both excited and humbled as we started 2019. Reflecting on the path-breaking success of our former chair Katherine Tyler Scott, I was, and I remain, six months on, very keen to place emphasis on maintaining the high standards to which ILA’s board works. At the same time, I want to make sure that the Board’s role and the context in which Board members work are clear and central to our policies and decisions. Last October, at ILA’s annual global conference in West Palm Beach, I suggested we should be more deliberative in our actions — making sure that role and context become strong organizational drivers.
I am often asked why I devote so much of my time to thinking about and agonizing over leadership: Thinking — probably because leadership is central to what we all do and defines our contributions, in our own particular ways and in our many and diverse settings; Agonizing — definitely because, too often, the quality of leadership I observe and experience falls short of being helpful or effective. Because leadership is something we all do and in which we are all engaged, it’s something we can all improve and make work better for the various challenges we face. And, we don’t have to do this all by ourselves.
The ILA is a space and a community that I can trust and where I feel safe to explore and grow my experience through conversations and dialogue about leadership styles, techniques, and contexts across all boundaries. When I joined, I found a community rich with experience and expertise willing and able to share the latest in thinking, research, teaching, and practice and uniquely, a community combining those who study and teach leadership with those who practice leadership including coaches and mentors, business leaders, and politicians.
The ILA is a place of and for purposeful connections — connecting people with each other, with ideas and resources, and with other cultures and experiences and for connecting challenges with solutions and perceptions with evidence. The ILA connects us globally and across sectors with a clear focus on improving effective and ethical leadership. Our success then, and the potential we have for improvement and for influencing whether our world gets to be a better place or not, is rooted in our connectivity. How well we relate to each other and to the wealth of resources that we collectively represent will determine whether or not we are the force we need to be for both leaders and leadership.
So, we need to work on our connecting, our connections, and our connectivity. We need to find ways of inviting more people into our trusted space and involving a greater diversity of active participants. Our space must be engaging and relevant to existing and new members. Good connectivity cannot be a once-off — a moment at conference or during a webinar — it must be sustainable and a near-permanent feature for our professional lives. So, my agenda with the board includes working hard to grow our global footprint, recruiting new members who will add to our talent pool, strengthening our finances so that we can do more, and growing our services to members. I want new partnerships with the corporate sector, with philanthropists, and with nonprofit foundations. We must continue to strengthen our relationship with higher education and continue to persuade others of our value. We have important work to do in helping to define leadership standards and curriculum. And, I want to hear more from members.
We are clear with our ambition that ILA will provide the resources for complex leadership challenges in both local and global communities. Like these contexts, we must be agile and work at pace. Most important of all is our commitment to scale. As the first-stop-shop for leadership we need to be reaching out and drawing in the talent, interest, and energy in places where we are less well known. Watch this space; the connecting will only get better!
Chair, ILA Board
Mike Hardy is a founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University, formed in 2013 incorporating the Institute of Community Cohesion, The Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies, and the Centre for Trust and Ethical Behaviour. From 1995 until 2011, as a senior U.K. civil servant, Mike was a leader with the British Council responsible for the Council's global programme for Intercultural Dialogue, youth engagement, and so-called 'soft-power' global strategic partnerships.
Following overseas postings in the Arab world and Asia, his work focused on working with difference and with inter- and intra-community relations. His particular interest was with disconnected and underemployed young people. His portfolio included international work with schools and skills, networks of young global citizens, and capacity development within civil societies worldwide as well as supporting partnerships which help conflict and post-conflict contexts and people and communities in fragile states. In his leadership role he was active in policy advocacy in international affairs and public diplomacy, most notably in Muslim majority countries.
He returned to the academic world in 2011 to a new Chair at Coventry and continues to contribute to conferences, global discussions and applied research in intercultural dialogue, multiculturalism and diversity. Mike is active within the UN Alliance of Civilizations, is lead advisor to the World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku and directs the RISING Global Peace Forum at Coventry. Professor Hardy has been twice honoured, awarded the OBE in 2001 for his peace-building work in the Middle East, and appointed a Companion of Honour of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen's Birthday Honours June 2010 for his work internationally in Intercultural Dialogue.