About the ILA

The world has a deep and pressing need for leadership. It is what inspires and enables humanity to face the challenges in a complex, diverse, and ever-changing world. The ILA is committed to advancing leadership knowledge and practice by creating a trusted space for leadership learning across boundaries and providing a trusted source of leadership resources for our members, partners, and the public.

The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals with a keen interest in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. Today, ILA is the largest worldwide community committed to leadership scholarship, development, and practice. We accomplish our mission through the synergy that occurs by bringing together our members and partners; collectively having a multiplier impact on leadership and change.

For twenty years the ILA has convened extraordinary talent across sectors, cultures, disciplines, and generations. Our members and partners are at the forefront, inspiring new thinking and shaping the greater good of individuals and communities world-wide.

We are committed to advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. This is who we are. This is what we do. This is what we intend to do with our members and partners to make an even greater impact. Come join us.


Our Mission

Advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world.

Leadership can make a difference. The ILA is committed to advancing our mission by creating a trusted space for leadership learning and by providing a trusted source of leadership resources.

A Trusted Space for Leadership Learning
Through the practice of bringing together individuals across distance and disciplines ILA plays a vital role in ensuring that the best thinking about the process of leadership is developed and disseminated. Creating and holding trusted spaces reflects our belief that leadership capacity exists across the globe in every sector and in every discipline. Through convening and conversing, we cultivate deeper understanding of the world and new insights into how we might exercise effective leadership that addresses our most critical challenges.

A Trusted Source for Leadership Resources
As a result of our commitment to holding spaces for research and dialogue, we are able to serve as a principle source for leadership related resources — programs, content and service. Through our global, regional, and topical conferences, books, webinars, and emerging digital offerings, we generate and disseminate new research, knowledge, and practices that address issues of interest to our members and the global community at large.

Cultivating a Thriving Global Leadership Community

The principal means by which our mission is achieved is through a thriving global leadership network of individuals currently working in every sector, discipline, and profession across the globe with a deep commitment to the exercise of leadership that will shape a better future for all.


Our Values

Inclusion Integrity Interconnection Interdisciplinary International Impact
We foster and promote diversity. We expect effective and ethical leadership practices and rigorous scholarship. We believe that we are part of a global web of interdependence; by bringing people together in meaningful ways, we deepen this interconnection. We promote and influence leadership as an interdisciplinary field from multiple sectors at the nexus of theory and practice. We respect cultural contexts and facilitate learning and networking across the boundaries. We encourage leadership initiatives that advance the field of leadership and contribute to the greater good.

A Brief History of the ILA

Larraine Matusak and Roger Sublett of W.K. Kellogg at the ILA 2000 conference in Toronto, Canada

The passionate contributions of many people and institutions coalesced to cultivate the networks, connections, and intellectual curiosity required to establish the International Leadership Association in 1999.  Like many ideas, it grew from both a series of informal conversations over many meals as well as more formal discussions in meetings and conferences. While it may be impossible to trace all of the conversations that led to the establishment of the ILA, several events that were foundational to its creation are described below.

The Association's international roots can be traced back to 1995 and the Salzburg Seminar on Global Leadership, Concepts and Challenges held in Austria, co-chaired by Georgia Sorenson and James MacGregor Burns, and attended by scholars and leaders from fifty countries.

Throughout the mid 1990's, participants of the Kellogg Leadership Studies Project (KLSP) often discussed the need for an umbrella organization to support the field of leadership studies. Supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with Larraine Matusak's leadership and based at the Academy of Leadership, the KLSP convened a premier group of 50 leadership scholars and practitioners to create and publish cross disciplinary leadership research.

At the conclusion of the KLSP project a conference was organized called the Leaders/Scholars Association, a meeting of the minds between those who study leadership and those who practice it. Coordinated by Barbara Kellerman and hosted at USC by Cynthia Cherrey the conference was deemed a success. It was decided to continue to meet as an Association of scholars, educators, leadership development professionals, and practitioners who share an interest in leadership and that the Association was to be diverse in thought, discipline, culture, sector, and geography. After many more conversations, the name "International Leadership Association" was chosen.

Around the same time, a group of leadership educators began to rotate conferences between the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the Academy of Leadership; when the idea of the ILA became a reality, it was decided to join efforts at the first ILA conference in 1999.

Since then, the ILA has become the largest international and inter-disciplinary membership organization devoted solely to the study and development of leadership. Based for its first ten years at the University of Maryland's James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, the ILA is one of the few organizations to actively embrace academics, practitioners, consultants, private industry, public leaders, not-for-profit organizations, and students.


Learn more about the ILA

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Past Annual Reports

2017 Annual Report 2016 Annual Report 2015 Annual Report

Strategic Plan

2020 Strategic Plan