Leadership Toolbox: Leader Conferences

By | September 3, 2015

[September 3, 2015]  What are the tools that leaders use to impart important messages and develop their lower level leaders on how to carry out their duties?  There are, of course, many ways to do this but one of the more effective ways is to conduct leader conferences which reach a larger audience efficiently.  One of the best pieces of advice that I’d received for my leadership toolbox was ensure that senior leaders are full participants.

I was judicious whenever I held a conference because of the monetary costs involved, and the potential of the squandering of resources, risks to the security of participants, and failure to sufficiently develop leaders.  Leader conferences are a valuable tool not to be underestimated at the professional benefits derived from them.  But they can be abused if used bureaucratically.

For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs was found by the Office of the Inspector General to have underestimated the costs and reporting of their conferences and that VA management oversight was “too weak, ineffective, and in some instances, nonexistent.”1  The Department of Homeland Security also recently came under fire for their conferences.2 The result has been that U.S. Congress demands that all of its Departments, including the Department of Defense, report their conferences and seek higher levels of approval.

This is not to diminish the fact that leader conferences are valuable and while the payoff is not easily measured, we do know that conferences have the benefit of leaders who can impart wisdom and mentoring.  One secret to this is to have sufficient time between formal events to ensure this occurs.  Rarely is it the information being formally presented but the informal time leaders have with one another that is most beneficial.

Leader conferences are an efficient way of sorting through future issues that are not fully developed intellectually or technically.  Advanced thinking is necessary for a successful conference and thus those who attend must be selected with care.

Leader conferences are a valuable leader tool in this world of shrinking resources.  Other forms of information sharing can reduce the number of attendees and frequency of conferences but there is no substitute for leaders looking each other in the eye and ensuring they are each professionals in executing their job of security of their country.

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  1. va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-12-02525-291R.pdf
  2. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/31/watchdog-dhs-only-reported-fraction-its-conferences/

[Note:]  I have a small mini-series on Leadership Toolboxes here at theLeaderMaker.com.



Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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