Feb 12, 2020
Tom Kolditz is the founding
Director of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University.
Tom shares the concepts and foundational elements that led to
creating an evidence-based, leader development program that has
received top recognition from the Associations of Leadership
[2:00] Tom comes from a small
town in Southern Illinois. He was a senior instructor on the West
Point parachute team for 12 years and had 647 helicopter
[3:45] Five questions to measure
a leader’s effectiveness:
are this leader’s strengths?
are this leader’s challenges?
is this leader at their best?
is this leader at their worst?
can this leader improve?
[7:40] You don’t need to make
this process complicated. You can focus on theory all day long, but
the real results come from the outcome.
[10:15] Leaning too heavily on
‘the rules’ limits the leader of their responsibility. They can
just blame the rule instead of being flexible and adapting to the
[10:50] When you take
responsibility for what you say or what you do, it can be painful,
but it goes away.
[13:10] In our culture, we
openly talk about our mistakes, so you’d think people would be open
to making mistakes. However, it seems it’s having an opposite
effect, where more and more people are taking a more conservative
and fearful approach.
[16:10] If someone makes a
mistake, social media has the ability to make it go viral and ruin
[18:40] Most ethical
transgressions have, at their root, an excessive self-interest.
People do not get called out enough for being selfish.
[26:45] When you or a company’s
self-interest starts to take away from people in unfair ways, that
should not be an acceptable business practice. It is a flashing red
light for an ethics violation.
[35:30] One of the best things
the military helps us with is that the entire culture is focused on
leadership, rewards leadership, and respects leadership. It is a
cultural immersion. Soldiers can smell a fake person a mile
[37:45] Remember, if there is a
problem in the organization, it’s your job to fix it. It’s not your
job to lead an organization where there are no problems.
[39:45] Senior leaders have to
get comfortable with a lot more ambiguity. They have to think about
their guidance in broader, intense, statements. Define what your
team’s right and left limits are and let them soar.
[41:30] Leaders can think a lot
faster than their larger staff can execute. It can be pretty easy
to get sucked into being a micromanager when things aren’t
[45:00] You have poorly
developed leaders (their leadership abilities are at the
high-school level, even with a 4-year university degree) that have
adopted bad leadership habits for the last 15 years in their
career, and now they’re working in leadership positions. Industries
are just riddled with bad leaders because no one has helped them
develop this skill throughout their careers.
[49:05] Leading with ambiguity
starts with recognizing your abilities, how long it’s taken you to
get this far, and how much other people have helped you.
- Leading equals Impact.
- Leaders can’t ‘responsibility-proof’
ethical transgressions have, at their root, an excessive
Resources and Books Mentioned
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