Professor Thomas Kolditz
Professor in the Practice of Leadership and Management & Director of the Leadership Development Program
Our Leadership Development Program stretches over two years, and is fully integrated into the student experience; it’s not an isolated program, but a part of what the school is about.
Leadership synchronizes, coordinates, and focuses effort. It inspires people to work harder individually and it creates conditions for people to work better together.
Leadership is hard. It has an element of selflessness to it. If you’re going to be at the head of an organization, that means putting some of the interests of the organization ahead of your personal interests. And not everyone wants to do that. But when you see what good leadership does for the human condition, it’s powerful.
Some elements of leadership can be mastered rapidly, but when you’re talking about really, powerfully changing people’s lives—and that’s what we want to do at Yale SOM; we want to change people’s capacity to influence the world—that’s a lofty goal. It takes time. So our Leadership Development Program stretches over two years, and is fully integrated into the student experience; it’s not an isolated program, but a part of what the school is about.
Of course, you can never just check it off and say, “Okay, I’m a leader now.” It’s a continuous process. But we aim to give our students a big head start on that lifelong process.
Leadership, in many respects, is exercising a moral obligation. When you put yourself at the head of an organization, or you put yourself in a group of individuals and work to influence them in a certain direction, there are consequences that affect people’s lives.
If you do it right, you help people make their mortgages. You help them send their kids to college. And the organization is stronger because of it. For those willing to take that on, I think there is a reward and satisfaction that comes with the responsibility.
Interviewed spring 2012.