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Thomas Kolditz      

Retired Brigadier General, Professor at Yale School of Management, Behavioral Psychologist & Extreme Leadership Expert

Tom Kolditz is the founding Director of the Ann and John Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University–the most comprehensive, evidence-based, university-wide leader development program in the world. The Doerr Institute was recognized in 2019 as the top university leader development program by the Association of Leadership Educators. Prior to Rice, he taught as a Professor in the Practice of Leadership and Management and Director of the Leadership Development Program at the Yale School of Management.

A retired Brigadier General, Kolditz led the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point for 12 years. In that role, he was responsible for West Point’s teaching, research, and outreach activities in Management, Leader Development Science, Psychology, and Sociology, and was titled Professor Emeritus after retirement. A highly experienced global leader, Kolditz has more than 35 years in leadership roles on four continents. His career has focused on either leading organizations himself, or studying leadership and leadership policy across sectors. He served for two years as a leadership and human resources policy analyst in the Pentagon, and a year as a concept developer in the Center for Army Leadership, and was the founding director of the West Point Leadership Center. He was instrumental in the design and formation of the Thayer Leader Development Group, and is the managing member of Saxon Castle LLC, a leader development consultancy.

Kolditz is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s highest award for service. He has been named as a leadership Thought Leader by the Leader to Leader Institute and as a Top Leader Development Professional by Leadership Excellence. In 2017, he was honored with the prestigious Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership—an honor also bestowed on Doris Kearns Goodwin, Howard Schultz, Tom Peters, and Benazir Bhutto. In 2018, he was globally ranked #6 in Coaching by Global Gurus, an independent research and professional ranking organization. In 2019, he was among 8 global finalists in Coaching and Mentoring by Thinkers50, a UK management ranking organization.

Kolditz has published more than 60 articles across a diverse array of academic and leadership trade journals, and serves on the editorial and advisory boards of several academic journals. In 2006, he co-edited and was the lead author in a special issue of the Leader to Leader journal, winning the APEX Publishing Award for best magazine or journal in the United States. He is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and is a member of the Academy of Management. He is a founding member of the Board of Advisors for the Department of Psychology at the University of Missouri, serves on the Council of Senior Advisors for the Future of Executive Development Forum and the boards of Linkage, Inc. and BoardBench Companies.

Kolditz has presented leadership content to more than 300 governmental, corporate, and social sector audiences worldwide. Kolditz has appeared on Bloomberg TV, 60 Minutes Sports, ABC World News, ABC 20-20, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, CBS, NPR, Calgary Today, Morning Ireland, and interviews with reporters from the New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, Discovery, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Washington Post, La Razon, and more than a dozen national and international news agencies.

Speech Topics

In Extremis Leadership, Leading As If Your Life Depended On It

The contemporary operating environments for both government and business is characterized by volatility, complexity, and uncertainty—perfect conditions for crises to emerge. Brigadier Gen. Tom Kolditz shows how extreme life-and-death situations can offer profound lessons for leaders in any setting. Gen. Kolditz’s research reveals that the leadership skills and principles evident in dangerous settings also apply to leading in business and everyday life, making this program applicable to both personal and professional success.

Dodging Bullets: How to Avoid Crisis

Few people want to be put into a position of being crisis managers, so how can leaders prepare organizations to avoid crises before they occur? Gen. Kolditz will take the audience through specific processes and techniques to help leaders anticipate and prevent crises and have a more effective, more empowered work force every day.

Lessons from Sky Diving and High Risk Activities

Gen. Kolditz has lead thousands of civilian sky diving jumps and leads West Point’s elite Black Knights. Through heart-stopping real-life stories of leaders in these extreme situations, Dr. Kolditz insists that leaders at all levels can improve their effectiveness. In this program he share his knowledge about leading with influence, and communicating with purpose. He also has a variety of additional high-risk situations he shares that are ideal settings to seek and find great leaders, assess how they might be different, and gleans valuable insights for extraordinary leadership in everyday lives.

Bring Innovation Leadership to a Legacy Organization

Learn best practices, tools and processes for effective organization design, Identify key steps for mobilizing your desired organizational structure. Learn how to lead change in organizations, especially those that are tradition-bound and extraordinarily resistant to change. Tom Kolditz draws on first hand experience and multiple cases of innovation and change in organizations using a unique indirect strategy that was successful when more common change management strategies had failed.

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