fbpx Ronald Heifetz | Harvard Kennedy School
Ronald Heifetz Photo
King Hussein Bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership
Contact:
617-495-7867
617-495-1339

Ronald Heifetz is among the world’s foremost authorities on the practice and teaching of leadership. He speaks extensively and advises heads of governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations across the globe. In 2016, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia highlighted Heifetz’s advice in his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture.

Heifetz founded the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School where he has taught for nearly four decades. He is the King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership. Heifetz played a pioneering role in establishing leadership as an area of study and education in the United States and at Harvard. His research addresses two challenges: developing a conceptual foundation for the analysis and practice of leadership; and developing transformative methods for leadership education, training, and consultation. 

Heifetz co-developed the adaptive leadership framework with Riley Sinder and Marty Linsky to provide a basis for leadership research and practice. His first book, Leadership Without Easy Answers (1994), is a classic in the field and one of the ten most assigned course books at Harvard and Duke Universities.  Heifetz co-authored the best-selling Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Change with Marty Linsky, which serves as one of the primary go-to books for practitioners across sectors (2002, revised 2017).  He then co-authored the field book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your Organization and the World with Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky (2009).

Heifetz began his focus on transformative methods of leadership education and development in 1983. Drawing students from throughout Harvard’s graduate schools and neighboring universities, his courses on leadership are legendary; his core course is considered the most influential in their career by Kennedy School alumni. His teaching methods have been studied extensively in doctoral dissertations and in Leadership Can Be Taught, by Sharon Daloz Parks (2005).

A graduate of Columbia University, Harvard Medical School, and the Kennedy School, Heifetz is both a physician and cellist. He trained initially in surgery before deciding to devote himself to the study of leadership in public affairs, business, and nonprofits. Heifetz completed his medical training in psychiatry, which provided a foundation to develop more powerful teaching methods and gave him a distinct perspective on the conceptual tools of political psychology and organizational behavior. As a cellist, he was privileged to study with the great Russian virtuoso, Gregor Piatigorsky.

Transparent Engagement 

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Ronald Heifetz

Organization Relationship
Broad Institute Consulting
Centro Liderazgo y Gestion Consulting
Centro Liderazgo y Gestion Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Council of Chief State School Officers Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Dialogos Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
International Finance Corporation Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Mammoet Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
McKinsey and Co. Consulting
Microsoft Corporation Consulting
Microsoft Corporation Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Momentum Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Consulting
The Holdsworth Center Consulting
The Holdsworth Center Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
United Church of Canada Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
United Church of Christ - Hawaii Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
United Methodist Church / Church of the Resurrection, KS, MO Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
US Dept of Health and Human Services Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation

Contact

Phone: 617-495-7867

Expertise

Politics
Business & Regulation
Democracy & Governance
Gender, Race & Identity
Public Leadership & Management

HKS Affiliations

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138