March 14–15, 2002
The study and practice of leadership should, ideally, benefit from one another, but all too often there exists a wide divide between the two. Leadership 2002 sought to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
The conference gathered scholars, practitioners, and students for two days (March 14–15) to explore the convergence of theory and practice. The first afternoon included two intellectually stimulating presentations, while the second full day featured no less than 22 different speakers on topics in leadership research and leadership practice.
Mark H. Moore, Director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), welcomed the conference attendees and introduced Warren Bennis, University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. Bennis delivered a lively talk entitled “Get Real! – Leadership as a Performing Art,” which presented his new and developing ideas on leadership as performance. His multimedia presentation included examples ranging from Shakespearean leaders to the Bush vs. Gore debates, and his speech provoked a lively set of questions and comments following its conclusion. The official conference concluded for the day, but the audience was invited to a public lecture at HKS on “The Current Economic Situation,” given by David Rockefeller, Former Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank.
The second day paired research papers with practitioner insights. The day began with a warm welcome by Ira A. Jackson, Director of the Center for Business and Government at HKS and J. Bonnie Newman, Executive Dean of HKS. Then, 22 individuals presented their ideas, research, and experience in the following three sessions:
“Rising to the Occasion: Circumstances That Make Leadership Possible” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Respondents: Reverend J. Bryan Hehir and Lawrence K. Fish.
At lunchtime, David Gergen, Director of CPL, shared his perspective with the crowd. After telling an inspiring story of a young Harvard College graduate, Seth Moulton, who joined the Marines in the spirit of service and leadership, Gergen posed four questions:
- How do we inspire young men and women to embrace the idea of becoming leaders for the common good?
- What are our responsibilities in helping people learn how to develop into leaders?
- What can we do here at the school to help develop leaders among women, African Americans, Latinos, and other groups?
- How do we close the gap, in a very practical way, for people who understand the theory of leadership but don’t really practice it in the way the theory would suggest?
Following his words, the sessions continued with sessions organized around scholarly and practitioner perspectives on leadership:
TEACHER/SCHOLAR: Robert G. Kegan, Educational Chair, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Respondents: Wendy Puriefoy, Ellen Schall and Martin Cherkasky.
Dean of HKS Joseph S. Nye, Jr. offered closing remarks, re-grounding everyone in the central two-tiered objective of CPL and HKS: “The mission for this school is to train public leaders and to do research on the solution of public problems.” Leadership 2002 was the next step in striving toward this mission.