"Hi, I'm Bob Thomas. One of the things that I've learned from surviving a near death business experience is recognizing the difference between panic and discomfort. The fact is that in many organizations the challenges of change is sufficiently great. That people will panic around you. It's about being able to put things into perspective for yourself and for them. The ability to notice that calm is an important part of surviving, but being able to make others calm around you." -- Robert J. Thomas
What did you learn from your last business "near death" experience?
Robert J. Thomas is executive director of the Accenture Institute for High Performance based in Boston, Massachusetts and the John R. Galvin Professor of Leadership at the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University. He writes, teaches and consults about leadership and transformational change.
His newest book, Driving Results Through Social Networks, which he co-authored with Rob Cross is the first management book that applies network theory to leadership and organizational performance. Prior, his book Crucibles of Leadership: How to Learn from Experience to Be a Great Leader, was hailed by Harvard's Rosabeth Kanter as "a guide for aspiring leaders in all walks of life" and by Wharton's Mike Useem as "an organizational playbook for transforming managers into leaders."
In 2002, he co-authored with Warren Bennis a book entitled Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders that explores the motivations and aspirations of leaders under the age of 35 and over the age of 70. A BusinessWeek best seller and translated into 11 languages, the book was recently reissued with a new introduction as Leading for Lifetime. Bob has also published articles on leadership and change in the Harvard Business Review, Harvard Management Update, the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek.com. He is the co-author with Peter Cheese and Elizabeth Craig of The Talent Powered Organization, one of the first systematic efforts to chart a strategy for talent management in the global enterprise.
His first major book, What Machines Can't Do: Politics and Technology in the Industrial Enterprise, won the 1994 C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Thomas has been a featured speaker at dozens of corporate and NGO events, including those sponsored by BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, MIT-Sloan School, Conference Board, Society for Human Resource Management, PBS, McGraw-Hill corporate learning, the Young Presidents Organization, the Treasury Executive Institute and NASA.
Thomas leads the Accenture Institute for High Performance, Accenture's global "think and act tank" with professional researchers based in Boston, Beijing, Chicago, Delhi and London. The Institute provides Accenture with original research and actionable insights on the global political economy and on the latest developments in business practice. In addition to producing proprietary insights, Institute researchers regularly publish their ideas in Tier 1 media and also serve as subject matter experts in some of Accenture's largest and most important consulting engagements.
In his role as a professor at Tuft University's Fletcher School, Thomas teaches courses on the personal and organizational dimensions of leadership to mid-career executives from all over the world and from business, government, the armed forces and NGOs. He also maintains his affiliation to MIT through his participation in the Sloan Fellows, the Leaders for Manufacturing, and the Greater Boston Executive programs. In addition, he periodically teaches in executive sessions for the Harvard Business Review, the Center for Management Research, and the International Consortium for Executive Development Research.
An Eagle Scout whose upbringing in Central California left him with a lifelong passion for fast cars and fresh vegetables, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife Rosanna, chair of the Women's Studies Department at Wellesley College, and their daughter, Alyssa.