The Best of: Summarizing the 2014 ILA Conference

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My first participation in the International Leadership Association conference was a very enjoyable experience. Three full days of presentations (with too many options to count)  would appeal to any individual with interest in the broad field of leadership. The presentations were a good mix of practitioners speaking about real-life application of leadership as well those who research and provide insights about emerging leadership issues.

Thoughout the weekend I tweeted and blogged my favorite quotes from the sessions I attended. Here is a summary of my top 15:

  1. The crisis of US congress is an issue of followership and not an issue of leadership. Barbara Kellerman
  2. Followers are the gem cutters of leadership, coaxing out its full brilliance. Ira Chaleff @followercourage
  3. Leadership studies and leadership programs are not necessarily leadership development. Susan Komives @SusanKomives
  4. Vitamins are to people as values are to organizations. Bernie Jaworski
  5. We live in an era of organized irresponsibility.  Otto Scharmer @ottoscharmer1
  6. What happens at the beginning of any creative process? Nothing! Creativity requires that we create space and wait for something to emerge. Otto Scharmer
  7. We need to move beyond seeing people as hired hands to seeing them as hired hearts. Kathleen Patterson
  8. The lines between organizational culture and organizational brand are merging. Steve Trainor
  9. Its time to legitimize the term follower. Ronald Riggio @ronriggio
  10. The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener. Bill O’Brien
  11. It is easier to recognize the quality of leadership in the behavior of their followers than it is in the behavior of the leader.  Kevin Lowe [Read this again – this is an amazing quote]
  12. Effective leaders of change must serve equally as agents of change and protectors of continuity. Samuel Wilson
  13. Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole. Otto Scharmer
  14. Succession planning often results in the selection of a weaker representation of yourself. Peter Drucker
  15. Courageous followership is the courage to stand up for leaders when they are right and stand up to them when they are wrong. Ira Chaleff

While the event is titled ‘International’, the actual content had a much more North American slant than I would have preferred. This event will be held in Europe next year so I’m sure this will improve. My conference highlight was the attention given to the importance of effective followership (my blog the week of ILA happened to focus on this – What if Everything Rises & Falls on Followership?). I believe that followership is a topic that will dominate leadership literature for the next decade or two. While I have very few negative comments about the conference, one would be related to the extremely heavy emphasis on the concept of mindful leadership (a somewhat self-evident concept to me). I had to laugh at the amount of conversations that I had where people used the phrase, “in my dissertation/book…”. It appears that the practices of servant leadership are still emerging. Or perhaps I’m just insecure because I haven’t written a book 😉

Details about next years conference in Barcelona, Spain can be found here (October 14 – 17, 2015). Those who wish to submit presentation proposals can do so here by February 1, 2015. #ILABarcelona

More detailed overviews of each of the days can be found here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.


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Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman


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