Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Must-Attend Leadership Conference

Among conferences focused on the development of leaders — perhaps the most vital issue facing boards of directors and senior management today — the one that gets my vote as best of the best is the Wharton Leadership Conference.

This one-day program is put on every year in June as a joint initiative of the Wharton Center for Human Resources, whose director is faculty member Peter Cappelli, and the Wharton Center for Leadership & Change Management, directed by professor Michael Useem. Of the dozens of leadership and governance programs held every year, this Wharton program goes on my calendar as a must-attend event.

It is not just the richness of its content that gives this program such distinction. It is the roster of speakers that the attendees are exposed to.

You see corporate superstars up close and personal (such as UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis, pictured), but you also get exposed to perspectives on talent development and management from diverse worlds — politics, the military, religion, the media, and, certainly, academia. Even more, you also hear from experts beyond the average executive's normal sphere of interaction. In years past attendees have listened in on the leadership lessons from those who scale treacherous mountains to those who jump into the middle of raging forest fires to those who are a creative force in the arts and humanities. It's an astonishingly diverse mix of big names doing big things, all leadership driven, and you just don't find that in most other such programs.

This year's 14th annual Wharton Leadership Conference, held June 16, carried on the grand tradition, as this agenda shows. My next several blog posts will be reflections inspired by what I heard this year at this Wharton conference. And I will be sure to give Directors & Boards readers a heads up when the date for the 15th annual conference is set so you can consider it for your must-attend lineup in 2011.