2020 Leaning into 2021

2020 Leaning Into 2021

Cynthia Cherrey
By Cynthia Cherrey, President & CEO, International Leadership Association

2020 was unexpected and filled with unimaginable disruptions and loss for many people. But in the midst of those clouds, the ILA held tight to its mission and sought to create rainbows, in the words of poet Maya Angelou. We created new resources, hosted our largest every global conference, and launched new projects aimed at advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world.

Before I share with you the work of our new projects, I would like to take a moment to celebrate, give gratitude, and reflect on our learnings from Leading at the Edge, ILA’s first live and online, virtual global conference.

Conference Chair Kathryn Goldman Schuyler and Program Chair Tom Sechrest along with the entire Conference Planning Team and the Member Community leadership deserve our accolades for taking the plunge and immersing us in the virtual conference world! ILA’s members, presenters, participants, partners, and sponsors deserve our thanks for willingly following us down the virtual path. Thank you for your confidence in the ILA, your stellar presentations at the global conference, and your contributions to the leadership profession.

The blueprint for ILA’s 2021 global conference is now underway. We continue to learn how the technology and our evolving mindset towards virtual events will inform the design of our 2021 global conference in Geneva. While the conference is likely to be a hybrid format, we do not know what the exact design will look like until the Conference Planning Team and staff convene to co-create another signature ILA global conference. What we do know is the mission is not in the format, it is in the formula — the different ways we create trusted spaces and bring together all those who teach, practice, and study leadership. We know that trusted spaces can take many different shapes and forms. Stay tuned!

The ILA has worked hard throughout this unprecedented context to support connections in a time of disconnections. We have stepped up with dialogue and resources to help populate the virtual networks with ideas, inspiration, and the sharing of experiences. What we all hold common is a very clear understanding of the importance of leadership and a recognition of how much better leadership should and could be for our times. We have worked purposefully to combine a sense of continuity with the reality of new times and new emphases within our ways of operating. We have worked to embrace the reality of 2020 and live in the moment with an eye towards the future.

Toward that end, the ILA board, member community volunteers, partners, and staff continue to work toward advancing the ILA mission. Three projects underway are The Renew, Refresh and Regenerate Project (the R3 Project), the Global Thought Leaders Project (GTL), and the Guiding Standards Task Force. To see who is involved in each project, please visit our board and task force webpage.

The R3 Project, chaired by LabVantage CEO and ILA Board member John Heiser, is an internal, ILA-focused directive tasked with envisioning a flourishing future for the ILA as the trusted space for those who study and practice leadership to address the changing complexities of our local and global communities. Using appreciative inquiry, a team comprised of board, staff, and ILA members participated in a process of discovery, dreaming, and design on how to refresh, renew, and regenerate the ILA to further its mission and growth. This work will be used as a foundation to our ongoing development goals and strategic planning

The Global Thought Leaders Project, chaired by The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, is an externally focused undertaking charged with developing a declarative white paper for better worldwide leadership. We have invited and connected exceptionally talented global leaders and a selection of ILA Lifetime Achievement award scholars to contribute. The process is designed to stimulate discussion around profound and provocative global leadership questions that move the leadership field forward. Some examples of the questions being discussed include: What are the most important changes confronting leaders and leadership in these times? What are the important contemporary issues facing global leadership such as finance, health, youth, inequality? What does all of this mean for leadership? What is possible, what is achievable? What does better global leadership look like?

Some of the GTL members presented at the 2020 global conference and have posted a question for your input on HubILA (ILA’s members only listserv on ILA Intersections). This leads me to the third project underway, which is also seeking your feedback.

The Guiding Standards Task Force, co-chaired by Gama Perruci and Sadhana Hall, is leading the charge to develop rigorous standards for use in the development and evaluation of academic leadership programs. As the leadership field matures, and we continue to see growth in undergraduate and graduate leadership programs, this work becomes more relevant and critical in ensuring that rigor is employed across programs. There was good work already done in this area from ILA members who created the original Guiding Questions document, used as the foundational work for this project. The global task force members expanded on this initial report to include global leadership principles and standards in the five areas of context, content, conceptual framework, teaching and learning, and outcomes and assessment that can be used by universities and colleges around the world.

Some of the task force members also presented at the global conference and the ILA recently sent out a survey to members asking for their input. Your input means so much to the members of the task force who are volunteering their time and talents to establish guiding standards that can be used for academic leadership programs around the world. If you are an ILA member and you haven’t already completed the survey, will you take a moment to do so now?

As we turn the corner on 2020, we look forward to working collectively and collaboratively with all of our members to reimagine leadership together and create a better future for us all.