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Thomas Kolditz    

Brigadier General (Ret.) Professor at Yale School of Management, Behavioral Psychologist and Extreme Leadership Expert

Colonel Thomas Kolditz is an internationally recognized expert on crisis leadership and leadership in extreme contexts, as well as cross cultural leadership, and the development of programs to inculcate leadership and leader development in everything from project teams to large organizations. Tom Kolditz is also a leader himself, serving in an array of military tactical command and technical staff assignments worldwide, commanding on three continents. His 32 year career has focused on either leading organizations, or studying leadership and leadership policy.

Thomas Kolditz 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. For over a decade, he chaired the academic department responsible for teaching, research, and outreach activities in Leadership, Psychology, Sociology, and Management at West Point, and coordinated the establishment of the West Point Leadership Center. Colonel Tom Kolditz is among a handful of presidentially confirmed officers offered permanent status at West Point beyond 30 years of service.

Thomas Kolditz has published over 50 book chapters and articles across a diverse array of academic, military, and leadership trade journals, and serves on the editorial and advisory boards of several academic journals. His most recent book, titled In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It, was based on more than 100 interviews taken on the ground in Iraq during combat operations.

Tom Kolditz has appeared on ABC World News, 20/20, Al Jazeera, CNBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, multiple radio programs including NPR, and interviews with reporters from the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Washington Post, and more than a dozen national and international news agencies.

Since 2001, Colonel Kolditz has served as coach to the U.S. Military Academy Sport Parachute Team. He weaves his personal experiences and abilities as a soldier, skydiver, and scholar into the first-hand study, analysis, and practice of leadership in dangerous circumstancesin extremis leadershipand how such leadership can inform the practice of leading in more ordinary settings, across the private, public, and social sectors.

Tom Kolditz has presented leadership content to more than 200 governmental, corporate, and social sector audiences worldwide.

Colonel Kolditz's clients include: GE, Procter & Gamble, Mercedes Benz USA, Goldman Sachs, Central Intelligence Agency, The Hartford, Yale Executive Education, Underwriters Laboratories, Save the Children, EDS, Young Presidents Organization, Aptuit, American College of Emergency Physicians, jetBlue, Boeing, World Business Forum, and The Conference Board.

Col. Thomas Kolditz holds numerous degrees, including a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Sociology from Vanderbilt University, as well as Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Social Psychology, a Master of Military Arts and Science, and a Masters in Strategic Studies.

As a professor, Tom Kolditz has led academic seminars or given lectures to students from Babson, Wellesley, and Olin Colleges, the University of Missouri, Columbia University, Duke University, Yale University, the Military Psychology Center of the Israel Defense Forces, Peking University, the Beijing International MBA program, Harvards Center for Public Leadership, seven national and international service academies and more than ten major metropolitan law enforcement, firefighting, and public service academies and assemblies.

Colonel Kolditz 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 2009, he was named to the Council of Senior Advisors, Future of Executive Development Forum. In 2010, Tom Kolditz was the only executive development professional highlighted in the GE Annual Report to Shareholders.

Dr. Kolditz is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and in the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, and is a member of the Academy of Management and the Society of Psychologists in Management. In 2007, Col. Kolditz was appointed a Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Management and has taught an annual crisis leadership course in their MBA curriculum.

Speech Topics


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.

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.

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.

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.

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