Leadership Conference in Berlin – the story of its evolution

Berlin from June 13 to June 15 will be the location of a major leadership conference. The conference is taking place in a historical venue – the former East German State Council Building – the building which was the official seat of the East German government. The conference theme is the task of leading across generations.

The conference promises to be very special. The welcome speaker to the conference will be Michael Diekmann – the chairman and CEO of Allianz – one of the largest insurance companies in the world. The list of speakers and attendees to this conference will make it one of the most important in Europe on this topic this year.

I will speak more about the conference in future blog posts. Today I would like to talk about my involvement in making this conference happen.

Back in 2001, I attended a conference of the International Leadership Association (ILA) in Miami, Florida. I remember being quite puzzled as to why this association was calling itself international. I was one of 4 people at that conference that lived outside of the United States.

But the association had large aspirations and before I knew it, the President of ILA – Cynthia Cherrey convinced me to head up an effort to organize the first global ILA conference in Europe. Along with Ted Baartmans who also attended the Miami conference, I helped to organize an international leadership conference in Amsterdam in 2005. Since then, I have played a role in organizing conferences in Prague (2009) and London (2011).

The ILA has come a long way since then. It is truly international with over 2500 members. As such it is the largest association in the world dealing with the topic of leadership. I have been a board member of the ILA since 2003.

The Berlin conference represents a new service offering for the ILA. Previous global conferences have been dedicated to leadership in general. The Berlin conference is dedicated to a specific leadership topic. Berlin does not replace the global conference but compliments it. ILA’s global conference which has been a continuing success will this year be in Denver. Over 1000 participants are expected to attend the Denver conference.

After the 2009 global conference in Prague, I travelled throughout Europe looking for partners for ILA with the specific intent of creating topical conferences. Through the various discussions, I connected with the European School of Management and Technology. The first discussions began in early 2010. ESMT has developed over the past four years a conference series known as the ESMT Annual Forum. In these conferences, many topics of the school were highlighted to alumni and friends of the school.  Through the partnership with the ILA, ESMT sees an opportunity to really focus the conference on leadership and make it an international event.

I have been working with Professor Konstantin Korotov of ESMT on the conference content and design. A truly cooperative effort has emerged between the two organizations with project teams in Berlin and Maryland contributing to a new look, feel and structure to this newest of ILA conference offerings. I am proud to have helped bring this type of conference into the world.

Workers of the World Unite

“With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin. With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” Chinese Proverb