Jim Kouzes is a bestselling author, an award-winning speaker and, according to the Wall Street Journal, one of the twelve best executive educators in the United States.
Jim Kouzes has been thinking about leadership ever since he was one of only a dozen Eagle Scouts to be selected to serve in John F. Kennedy’s honor guard when Kennedy was inaugurated President of the United States. Kennedy’s inaugural call to action —“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” — inspired Jim to join the Peace Corps, and he taught school in Turkey for two years. That experience made Jim realize that he wanted a career that offered two things: the chance to teach and the opportunity to serve. It was in his first job back in the U.S. where Jim trained community action agency managers that he found his calling. Jim has devoted his life to leadership development ever since.
The fifth edition of The Leadership Challenge was released in July 2012, marking the 25th anniversary of the book. It debuted as #1 on Amazon’s leadership bestseller list and was selected by FastCompany as one of the 2012 Best Business Books of the Year and was on the 2013 Wall Street Journal bestseller list. In 2009 The Leadership Challenge was selected as one of the 100 best business books of all time by 800-CEO-READ. It was an Amazon Editor’s Pick for one of the Best Business Books of 2007, as well as the winner of the 1995-96 Critics’ Choice Award, and the 1989 James A. Hamilton Hospital Administrators’ Book Award. Their book A Leader’s Legacy was selected by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the top thirty books of the year and by the Globe and Mail (Canada) as one of the top ten books of 2006. Jim and Barry have coauthored over thirty other publications including Making Extraordinary Things Happen in Asia, Encouraging the Heart, The Leadership Challenge Workbook, and The Truth About Leadership. Their book award-winning Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It was chosen by Industry Week as one of the ten best management books of the year.
Currently Jim is Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, at Santa Clara University, and also lectures on leadership around the world to corporations, governments, and nonprofits. In 2010, Jim received the Thought Leadership Award from the Instructional Systems Association, the most prestigious award given by the trade association of training and development industry providers. He was listed as one of HR Magazine’s Most Influential International Thinkers for 2010 and 2011, named one of the 2010 and 2011 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America, and ranked by Leadership Excellence magazine as number sixteen on its list of the Top 100 Thought Leaders. In 2006, Jim was presented with the Golden Gavel, the highest honor awarded by Toastmasters International.
A highly-regarded leadership scholar and an experienced executive, Jim served as president, CEO, and chairman of the Tom Peters Company from 1988 through 1999, and prior to that led the Executive Development Center at Santa Clara University (1981–1987). He founded the Joint Center for Human Services Development at San Jose State University (1972–1980) and was on the staff of the School of Social Work, University of Texas. His career in training and development began in 1969 when he conducted seminars for Community Action Agency staff and volunteers in the war on poverty. Following graduation from Michigan State University (BA degree with honors in political science), he served as a Peace Corps volunteer (1967–1969).