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High Performance Leadership: Interview with Prof. George Kohlrieser

In this informal interview, Prof. George Kohlrieser who is Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at IMD Business School in Lausanne shares some of his insights on High Performance Leadership:

Q1: You have founded the High Performance Leadership Program at IMD Business School back in 2002. At the time, your background was in Clinical Psychology and Hostage Negotiation => What was your motivation back then to develop a program on Leadership and how did you “connect the dots” between Hostage Negotiation and Leadership?

Q2: Today HPL is clearly recognised as a flagship program. You will celebrate its 100th edition in Sept and approx. 5000 alumni have now completed the program. Most participants say that HPL has been a “life changing” program for them. What makes the program so special?

Q3: How did the program evolve over the years? What have been the main learning points for you and your team of coaches who run the program?

Q4: Many people still see the Leader as a “Charismatic Hero” at the top of the organisation… but you bring a more nuanced view on Leadership and define the Leader as being a Secure Base for their teams. What do you mean by that? What is a Secure Base Leader and how does that differ from the “traditional stereotypes” that we can have about leadership?

Q5: Some of the trends and “buzzwords” that we hear today are digitalisation/volatility/change/uncertainty/… Teams are becoming more agile and Leadership is more spread/distributed in the teams and no longer concentrated in the hands of a few people at the top of the organisation => is there a new set of skills/behaviours that Leaders need to develop in this changing environment (or can they rely on the same leadership fundamentals) ?

Q6: You have an incredible track record and career path, looking forward what are your dreams/goals for the future?

Short Bio

George A. Kohlrieser is an organisational and clinical psychologist. He is Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD Business School in Switzerland and consultant to global companies. He is a frequent speaker at management and professional conferences around the world including the World Business Forum, the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations.

George is a thought leader focused on high performance leadership, high performance teamwork, conflict management, change management, dialogue and negotiation, coaching, the person effect, stress management, work-life balance, and personal and professional development. He is also a police psychologist and hostage negotiator focusing on aggression management and hostage negotiations. He has worked in over 100 countries spanning five continents.

George is the Founder and Director of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Program, the flagship six-day IMD program for experienced senior leaders, and the Advanced High Performance Leadership (AHPL) for former HPL participants. He is a notable media commentator on issues related to leadership, conflict, aggression management, and hostage negotiation, and had his own highly acclaimed radio call-in talk show in the US for over 10 years. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes and other leading newspapers and magazines. He has been a speaker at TEDx talks in both New York and Lausanne.

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