Phil Harkins is the founder of the Global Institute for Leadership Development™ (GILD). This institute is so much more than your average institute where you attend with great intentions, but leave without actionable items. GILD makes sure each attendee is inspired, customizes their learning experience, allows attendees to take an invaluable 360-degree assessment, and ultimately, impacts transformation in individuals and their companies. The one-on-one coaching sessions and small-group learning sessions are something I've had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand, and were truly eye-opening. After attending GILD, I sat down with Harkins about his 5-day leadership development program.
6 Questions With Phil Harkins
1. What do you think makes GILD different than other conferences out that?
At Linkage, we've been doing conferences since 1988. The market changed, and then we decided to get out of the conference business. We had the idea that the part of conferences that we love, is the part where we provide content-rich, benchmark data in a way that engages and creates an immersion learning experience.
It took us two years to make the first GILD. From concept, to design and modelling. We wanted it to change from a conference to an institute. We wanted to transform people and improve how they lead.
The attendees rated this year's GILD as 9.85 out of 10 this year, and we've gone up every single year.
2. Who would you recommend attend the GILD Institute?
We built this program for the high potentials out there people aged 30-45, the up-and-comers. These people who are really going for it and are trying to get to the next level. What's happened is that our average aged attendee is 49. The program wasn't designed for them, but they're high fiving us saying, "Too bad I didn't know about this when I was 30." We spend days putting people in learning teams, making attendees get the most out of their time.
3. Tell us about your journey. What motivates you to continue?
I have a lot of good weeks, because I enjoy what I do and there are a lot of great people to meet. I'm never tired because every minute I'm thinking new thoughts, and meeting new people.
4. How do trends play into Linkage and GILD?
The story of Linkage began while I was in graduate school in Cambridge. I was reading something in a PhD program in the 70s, when there was no Internet and you were just digging through piles of paper in the library. I came across this article about executive learning and it said more money will be spent on developing leaders than on traditional schooling. I thought, "Who knows about this stuff?" There were no companies that did it, but I knew this is where I wanted to spend time in my life. I became very excited about it, and 45 years later, people have realized the impact and science executive learning has to make a difference in organizations. People will feel better and do better because of executive learning. Linkage's purpose and GILD's purpose is to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of leaders around the world.
What is the biggest upcoming trend you see in your industry?
Our plan is to roll GILD out in every continent. We don't want their learning teams to end. We want to integrate GILD into educational programs for kids. Knowing your purpose and knowing what you're about has a profound implication.
5. What advice do you have for people looking to mimic your success?
Leadership is something you sign up for. It's a deliberate action that you make. We all lead for different reasons.
6. What do you think is the most rewarding thing about attending a GILD conference?
Our Co-chair Warren Bennet once said, What people get out of GILD is they find their voice as a leader. It comes to them in different ways, but they get a commitment and conviction that what they're doing is important. They become a better leader.