Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard Launch First-Ever Executive Leadership Program for Mayors and City Leaders

Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard Launch First-Ever Executive Leadership Program for Mayors and City Leaders

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Monday, July 24, 2017 - 3:45pm

CAMPAIGN: Bloomberg: Philanthropy & Engagement

CONTENT: Article

This week, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard University convened the inaugural class of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. A first-of-its-kind collaboration, Bloomberg Philanthropies has brought together Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and its business school to help mayors become even stronger leaders. We spoke with Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patti Harris, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, and Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf about how the initiative got started and why it matters.

Why is it so important to have a leadership development program for mayors and how will this initiative help support the skills mayors already bring to the job?

Patti Harris: Over the years, through our work with cities across the globe, we’ve heard time and again that mayors wish they had easier access to the latest information, tools, and techniques to help them achieve their greatest ambitions for their cities. We’ve also learned that they value learning with and from fellow mayors above all else. That’s why we worked with Harvard to create the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, to give mayors access to high-quality executive coaching and training – like that offered to their CEO peers in the business world. It is truly a unique effort!

Nitin Nohria: Mayors all bring their unique perspectives and skills to the job. But it is hard to imagine how anyone can ever be fully prepared for all that it takes to be an effective mayor. Inevitably, mayors will have to grow into these jobs. And they can benefit from learning from each other, from a structured educational experience, and from research that can inform their thinking. This is where the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative hopes to play a role and make a contribution.

Douglas Elmendorf: An increasing number of people are moving to cities, so the decisions made by mayors and their staff affect more people every day. Making sure that mayors have the tools necessary to diagnose, face, and solve problems through leadership becomes more important by the hour. The job of mayor is extremely demanding – expectations are high and because mayors are close to the community they serve, mayors are held accountable immediately if they don’t meet expectations. Mayors rarely have the opportunity to reflect, step back, and further develop their skills to become an even better leader. Thanks to Mike Bloomberg’s vision, they now have that opportunity.

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