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    For information about requirements to participate in an executive program on the Harvard Kennedy School campus, please visit this page.

    Program Fee: The program fee includes tuition, housing, curricular materials and most meals.
    Executive Certificate: This program is a core program in the Public Leadership concentration. This program can also be used as a third program for any concentration in the Executive Certificate series.
    Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): This program aligns with one or more Executive Core Qualifications.

Program Overview

In today’s chaotic, partisan world, leaders often feel so much pressure to choose what to do that they don’t give enough thought to why they’re doing it. As a result, they make critical decisions based on little more than gut instinct.

Effective leadership begins with identifying and managing the assumptions and values that drive decisions. It requires not only examining personal beliefs, but also determining how to reconcile competing commitments and loyalties in your organization or community.

Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict, and Courage, a one-week on-campus program from Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, provides a foundation for this innovative approach. Through sessions in the classroom and in small groups, and through individual reflection, you will get critical insights into understanding the relationship between leadership and authority. You will learn better ways to exercise influence and manage the individual and institutional dynamics of change. And you will be equipped to re-enter your environment refreshed, with new tools and practices to guide your approach to leadership.


    Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict, and Courage is an on-campus executive program developed by Harvard Kennedy School faculty and led by Faculty Chair Tim O’Brien. In this unique program, you will face some of the same challenges that make leadership—and being a leader—so demanding in the public sphere. These challenges form the basis of peer-group consultations throughout the week.


    In Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict, and Courage, you will explore how to:

    • Exercise leadership without authority
    • Analyze and manage the dynamics that impede progress
    • Unlock individual and group creativity
    • Translate purpose and commitment into effectiveness
    • Find your voice
    • Thrive in a leadership role

    Application Information

    Sample Schedule

    Immerse yourself with a cohort of fellow leaders on Harvard’s historic campus. View the draft program schedule. Note that module titles, speakers, and sequence may change.


    “This program was the best training I have ever experienced, pushing me to my limits in a learning environment second to none. I left Harvard a different person.”

    Marvin Sims, Equity Coordinator, Mounds View Public Schools
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    Hear from the Faculty Chair

    Professor Tim O'Brien, Faculty Chair, discusses the curriculum and impact of Leadership for the 21st Century.

    Faculty & Research

    Faculty Chair
    Timothy O'Brien Photo

    Timothy O'Brien

    Lecturer in Public Policy
    Harvard Faculty and Guest Speakers
    Farayi Chipungu Photo

    Farayi Chipungu

    Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

    Hugh O'Doherty

    Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

    Shari Tishman

    Shari Tishman

    Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Senior Research Associate at Harvard Project Zero

    Hear from Participants

    Participants from the Leadership for the 21st Century program discuss their experience at Harvard at what they took away from the program.

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    Access brochure and receive more information about the program
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