Ron Heifetz

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Alan Bryman

Ronald Heifetz cofounded the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he pioneered leadership theory and education beginning in 1983. He advises heads of government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations around the world. President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia commented on Heifetz's advice in his 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture. Heifetz' 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. His research aims to provide a conceptual foundation for the study and practice of leadership and strategies that build adaptability.

Heifetz is well known for developing transformative methods of leadership education and development. His courses at the Kennedy School have consistently been voted the "most influential" by the school's alumni. His teaching methods are the subject of the book, Leadership Can Be Taught (2005), by Sharon Daloz Parks.

Heifetz co-authored 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 books 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.

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. Heifetz completed his medical training in psychiatry. As a cellist, he was privileged to study with the great Russian virtuoso, Gregor Piatigorsky.