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2018 Plenaries

ILA's 2018 Plenary Speakers will challenge, inspire, and spark new insights and questions as they talk about the state of leadership in the world today.


Barbara KellermanBarbara Kellerman,
James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
Caroline KisiaCaroline Kisia,
Executive Director, Action Africa Help International (AAH-I)
Donna LadkinDonna Ladkin,
Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Faculty of Leadership and Change, Antioch University
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Donna Ladkin
Thursday 25 October | 9:00 - 10:15


Donna LadkinWhy Self-Constitution Trumps the True Self as the Foundation for Leading Authentically

Part of Donald Trump's popular appeal is his '"authenticity", but is acting on one's uncensored impulses an optimal form of authenticity, especially when occupying the leader role? This keynote will challenge essentialist notions of the self as a stable aspect of identity as an appropriate underpinning for authentic leadership. Instead, it introduces the possibility of authenticity as emerging from deliberate processes of self-questioning and reflexivity, as well as sensitivity to the context in which one is operating. From such a perspective, the key question in attaining authentic leader performance is not 'who am I?', but 'who do I want to be?', especially in relation to achieving the goal of engendering progress, peace, and prosperity for others.

Donna Ladkin's background in philosophy and organizational leadership has led her to literally rethink the field of leadership. Her book, Rethinking Leadership: A New Look at Old Leadership Questions, provocatively explores the fundamental questions of leadership with an insistence that the questions we should be asking are ones we know we are not going to get to the bottom of. Her most recent books — Mastering the Ethical Dimensions of Organizations and The Physicality of Leadership — are the results of her ongoing research and interest in the aesthetic and material dimensions of ethical organizations and how art-based methods can be used to educate managers. Authentic Leadership: Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences, a 2013 volume co-edited with Chellie Spiller, speaks to the theme of ILA’s 2018 global conference, and turns the notion of Authentic Leadership inside out by examining it in terms of the fluidity of the concept of self and the orientation toward leadership as a relationship.

Caroline Kisia
Friday 26 October | 9:00 - 10:15


Caroline KisiaAuthentic Leadership: From Crises to Peace

Authentic leadership that inspires can move individuals, communities, organizations, and nations from crises to peace. Caroline will offer leadership insights and lessons drawn from her practice as a medical doctor in rural Kenyan villages, to leading start up organizations, to achieving Silicon Valley recognition, to working with refugee populations, to her current role over the last ten years as Executive Director of an organization working in six fragile conflict and post-conflict countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. An avid hiker, Caroline will draw upon her experiences climbing Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro, and the Imja Tse in the Himalayas, to draw parallels and provide vivid illustrations of crises we go through as leaders. Finally, she will share the self-nurturing and reflective practices she uses to maintain authenticity.

Caroline Kisia, Executive Director of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), is a Physician from Kenya, whose passion is working with disadvantaged communities. She has worked in remote rural communities, many of them conflict-affected. With experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, Caroline has played a key leadership role in health, humanitarian, and development matters in Eastern Africa, including working with large refugee populations and their hosting communities. Among her many degrees, she is a graduate of the International Masters in Health Management and Leadership (IMHL) from McGill University where she studied under Henry Mintzberg. Throughout her career, Caroline has played an integral role in organizational management and leadership, strategy formulation, institutional development, program planning and delivery, knowledge and innovation management, capacity building, and health research.

Barbara Kellerman
Saturday 27 October | 12:15 - 13:30


Barbara Kellerman Standards

Barbara Kellerman's keynote speech will explore our sense of standards in the second decade of the 21st century. While her emphasis will be on the American experience, her presentation will pertain more broadly, to liberal democracies that traditionally have been American allies. Kellerman's discussion will be wide-ranging and far reaching: historical and contemporaneous; political and economic; social and cultural. It will conclude with conceptions about standards as they apply to leadership and followership specifically, to the leadership industry generally, and to the International Leadership Association, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Barbara Kellerman is a quintessential scholar of leadership. Approaching leadership from multiple disciplines, she delights in poking and prodding to see what turns up and then synthesizing her observations and analyses into books filled with big ideas discussing overarching, sweeping trends in leadership and followership. Her books — including, Hard Times; The End of Leadership; Leadership: Essential Selections; Followership; Women & Leadership; and Bad Leadership, among others — have challenged existing orthodoxies and created new contours to guide the field forward. Kellerman, who frequently earns titles like “Top 50 Business Thinkers” (Forbes.com) or “World’s Top 30 Management Professionals” (Ranked 13th by Global Gurus), is a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Harvard Business Review and she frequently appears on the BBC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and NPR. Her forthcoming book is Professionalizing Leadership.