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Ronald Heifetz founded the Center for Public Leadership and is the King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. Heifetz speaks extensively and advises heads of governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations throughout the world. He co-developed the adaptive leadership framework.
His research focuses on creating a conceptual foundation for the study of leadership, creating teaching, training, and consulting methods for leadership practice, and building the adaptive capacity of organizations and societies.
His first book, Leadership without Easy Answers, (1994) is a classic in the field. Read widely as a foundational text, it is one of the 10 most assigned course books at Harvard and Duke Universities. He coauthored the best-selling Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading with Marty Linsky (2002), which serves as one of the primary go-to book for practitioners across all sectors, and the field book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your Organization and the World, (2009) with Marty Linsky and Alexander Grashow.
Heifetz is also well-known for developing transformative methods of leadership education and development. His courses on leadership at Harvard are legendary. Drawing students from throughout Harvard’s graduate schools and neighboring universities, they have consistently won the alumni award for the Kennedy School’s most influential course. His teaching methods are the subject of the book, Leadership Can Be Taught, by Sharon Daloz Parks (Harvard Business Press, 2005).
A graduate of Columbia University, Harvard Medical School, and the Kennedy School, Heifetz is a physician and cellist. He trained initially in surgery before deciding to devote himself to the study of leadership in public affairs and business. Heifetz completed his medical training in psychiatry. As a cellist, he was privileged to have studied with the great Russian virtuoso, Gregor Piatigorsky.
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