Upcoming Sessions

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

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

Timothy O'Brien Photo

Timothy O'Brien

Lecturer in Public Policy

Farayi Chipungu Photo

Farayi Chipungu

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

HKS shield.

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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