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The Dynamics of Inclusive Leadership

November. 2 - 5, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Inclusive leadership is most evident when diverse people act in concert, when each person contributes aspirations and energy to a larger vision for the greater good. This kind of participation requires leadership that balances, highlights, motivates, and engages. Inclusive leadership shines when the merely curious transform into the heartfelt committed. Inclusive leadership can change people. It can cultivate local and global change. As Nobel Peace Prize winner and native Atlantan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

So how do we as educators, practitioners, scholars, and students of leadership manifest inclusivity into the work at hand?

The dynamic forces at play are robust, value-laden, and, sometimes, unpredictable. Thanks to global media, some leaders can quickly capture the world's imagination. For example, reaction to the attack on Malala Yousafzai at the hands of the Taliban blossomed into a global movement promoting education for women and girls. Slow-downs can happen when leaders then move to translate inclusive ideals into action. Even in a world of charismatic, catalytic leaders real change can be slow to arrive. As noted French theorist Paul Virilio once quipped, "The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck." What do leaders navigating the rocky shores of slow-moving needles like gender equality or economic and social justice need to know? How do leaders find their sea legs and sail toward a future that leverages inclusive leadership to budge the needle on wicked problems? What happens when leaders lose their way in the fog and their leadership wrecks on the shore of the urgent versus the important?

ILA's 18th annual global conference, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, will occur in a time when leaders continue to struggle mightily to engage inclusively despite unprecedented pressures to the contrary. Bearing witness to the suffering of people and planet and moving beyond hate to healing is a central challenge of leadership today. Atlanta is a living demonstration of the dynamics of inclusive leadership. From the refugee resettlement hub in Clarkston (a community the New York Times called the most diverse square mile in America) to historical sites honoring Civil Rights and the local youth culture booms in film and music production, Atlanta holds story after story of leadership that created inclusive coalitions to address critical issues such as civil rights, religious tolerance, fair business practices, women's equality, and environmental justice.

While the 2015 conference in Barcelona contributed to the knowledge and practice of crossing generations and borders, the 2016 conference asks, "What happens next?" Leading across borders is one step toward inclusive leadership. What are the next two, three, ten, ten thousand steps? What happens to those who, by their own intention or through oversight, are not included? When boundaries of principle and pragmatism create in-groups and out-groups, where are the connections? Amidst the complexity of leadership, how do issues ripen?

We invite you to contribute to the dialog around The Dynamics of Inclusive Leadership in Atlanta November 2-5, 2016 as a path to more effective and ethical leadership for the greater good of all.