Leonard A. Schlesinger is Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has served as a member of the Business School faculty from 1978 to 1985, 1988-1998 and 2013 to the present. During his career at the School he has taught courses in Organizational Behavior, Organization Design, Human Resources Management, General Management, Leadership and Service Management in the MBA and Executive Education programs. He has also served as head of the Service Management Interest Group, Senior Associate Dean for External Relations, and Chair of “Leadership and Learning,” the School’s 1993-94 curriculum review and redesign process.
Throughout his career Professor Schlesinger has regularly transitioned between academic and managerial roles in educational and business settings. He served as President of Babson College from 2008-2013, held a number of key executive and operating positions (ending as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer) at Limited Brands (now L Brands) from 1999-2007, was a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Senior Vice President and Counselor to the President at Brown University from 1998-1999, and was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Au Bon Pain from 1985-1988.
Schlesinger has lectured and consulted on strategy, service quality, customer satisfaction, entrepreneurship, human resources and organizational change for over 200 major corporations, non-profit organizations, governments, and international leadership organizations around the world. He was an active leader in the design and development of the “Work-Out!” initiative at General Electric and the “Reinventing Government” process for the U.S. Department of Labor.
His writings on entrepreneurship, service management and organizational management have been widely published. Along with his long term HBS colleagues, Profs. Jim Heskett and Earl Sasser, he has recently completed What Great Service Leaders Know and Do: Creating Breakthroughs in Service Firms (Berrett-Koehler, 2015). Additionally, he is the author or co-author of 12 books, including Own Your Future (AMACOM, 2014), Just Start: Take action, Embrace uncertainty, Create the future (Harvard Business School Press, 2012), Action Trumps Everything (Black Ink Press, 2010), The Value Profit Chain (Free Press, 2003), The Service Profit Chain (Free Press, 1997) and The Real Heroes of Business ... and Not a CEO among Them (Doubleday Currency, 1994), and has written numerous articles for academic audiences as well as for The New York Times, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. He has served on the editorial boards of five major academic journals and has published numerous management case studies that have sold well over one million copies.
He also has completed three video series on service management. Schlesinger currently serves as Lead Director of Demandware, Inc., Director of Viewpost LLC and Restoration Hardware, Inc., a Trustee of Wheaton College (MA), member of the Corporation of the Winsor School, and member of the President’s Council of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. He serves on the Advisory Boards of Startup Institute, The Hope Collaborative, Datapoint Capital, Clip-File, and the Emory-Georgia Healthcare Innovation Program. He also serves as an advisory council member of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative, and as a member of both the Council on Competitiveness and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Schlesinger holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, an MBA from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Arts in American Civilization from Brown University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson College. July 2015
What do you do best?
My key skill is the ability to shape settings as an organizational manager/leader that allow and inspire others to be their best
What makes you the best?
The ability to use well developed stand up skills to interest and excite others and one to one empathy skills to help move them as individuals
How will you become the best?
Lots and lots of practice and after action reflections that set the stage for improvements that can follow
What are your aspirations: business & personal?
Personal: A happy and healthy family.
Business: To leave any organization I am involved in materially better than when I arrived
What fascinates you?
Right now I am intrigued by the patterns of technology evolution and their implications for work and jobs
Don’t just be the best..be the only!
Pope Francis, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King
Himalayas (especially Bhutan), Patagonia
Any product or service that provides a world class customer experience (Disneyland (world), Four Seasons Hotels, Southwest Airlines, Quicken for example)
Trekking the world