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. 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, Tom 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, General Kolditz has more than 28 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. General Kolditz is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s highest award for service. In 2017, he was honored with the prestigious Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership.
General Kolditz has published extensively across a diverse array of academic and leadership trade journals, and serves on the editorial and advisory boards of several academic journals. 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, and serves on the Council of Senior Advisors for the Future of Executive Development Forum. 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 US.
A skydiving instructor since 1980, Kolditz served 10 years as the senior instructor for the West Point 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 circumstances—in extremis leadership—and how such leadership can inform the practice of leading in more ordinary settings. His book, titled In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It, was based on more than 175 interviews taken on the ground in Iraq during combat operations. 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.
Professor Kolditz has presented leadership content to more than 250 governmental, corporate, and social sector audiences worldwide. As a professor, he has led academic seminars or given lectures to students from Babson, Wellesley, and Olin Colleges, Duke University, Columbia University, Yale University, Yale CEO College, Rice University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Missouri, the Military Psychology Center of the Israel Defense Forces, Renmin University, Peking University, the Beijing International MBA program, Harvard Law School, Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, the World Economic Forum, seven national and international service academies and more than ten major metropolitan law enforcement, firefighting, and public service academies and assemblies, including the CIA, FBI, and DEA. 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.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Vanderbilt University, three Master’s degrees, and PhD in Psychology from the University of Missouri. He and his wife Kay reside in the Houston Heights. They have two adult daughters, Jenna Bell and Kerry Feeney, and three grandchildren, Mary Ann and William Thomas Bell, and Leigh Katherine Feeney.