Leadership Development

Last Friday I attended a meeting with university-wide faculty and community leaders on leadership in the 21st century: what does it look like? can it be taught? how will the public and nonprofit sectors benefit? is a heightened and improved leadership ability the answer to many of the pressing social and economic problems facing Minnesota and beyond? The task of this meeting was not to answer these questions (thankfully!), but rather to critically think about them and begin an insightful dialogue as to what it means to nurture leadership development at the University and throughout our communities.

These pertinent questions and the weight of their answers hold a great deal of relevance in today's society. We cannot begin to address these growing problems without adequate leaders of all kinds ready to implement creative solutions with large-scale impact and success. Leadership development seems like a fuzzy subject, which it is, but it is essential if we want to move past the current state of public affairs that is racking this country at all levels. Understanding what leadership looks like in the 21st century, and perhaps what it should look like, is the first step in creating a much-needed change in society to bring us all to a place of social and economic stability.


The recent failure of business and political leadership is reason for new interest in a new kind of leader focused on the success of others and the common good rather than personal fortune, fame and power. Leadership development is journey to leadership maturity, which comes from listening to and learning from feedback. With self-awareness and coaching, leaders can continue to improve throughout their lives.


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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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