Learning to Lead

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."

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"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." John F. Kennedy planned to say those words in a speech in Dallas on the day he was shot. He'd be gratified to know that his message was heard.

At Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, the Center for Public Leadership provides research, seminars, and workshops to teach students to become effective leaders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. "We see a trend toward the convergence of these sectors as the pace of globalization accelerates," says Donna Kalikow, the center's executive director.

There are no Lone Rangers at the CPL. "As much as people want charismatic leaders, today's multicultural world doesn't support a go-it-alone approach," says Kalikow. Instead, she sees a shift toward leadership teams schooled in collaboration, cultural tolerance, conflict resolution, communication, and what CPL calls followership—the empowerment of colleagues who support a leader's vision.

CPL also emphasizes self-awareness as a key to strong leadership. Judging by the latest students, Kalikow finds reason to be hopeful. "People of this generation are entrepreneurial, independent, tech savvy, tolerant, and have a social conscience," she says. "They want to help our country, nationally and internationally." With polls signaling a leadership crisis, she adds, that help can't come too soon.