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School of Business Administration

UD Alumni Brings Hostage Negotiation Techniques to the World of Business

Join Dean Trevor Collier as he delves into conversation with UD Alumni George Kohlrieser ('67) who currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD Business School in Switzerland. At the IMD Business School, he is the founder and director of the High-Performance Leadership Program for Experienced Senior Leaders, and the Advanced High-Performance Leadership Program for formal HPL participants. Kohlrieser is the author of two international bestselling books; one translated into 19 languages, the other into 12 languages. The first book is called: "Hostage at the Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance." The second book is "Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership." In addition, Kohlrieser is also an international keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum and World Business Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In the podcast, Kohlrieser describes how he grew up in Wapakoneta, Ohio, just north of Dayton on a farm. After school, he joined the Catholic seminary in Brunner Dale where he spent the next 10 years. Kohlrieser’s goal was to work in a field where he could help people, a foundation he learned from growing up on the farm.

At UD he found a community due to the faculty, fellow students, and the Marianist philosophy of serving people. Creating a connection to the Marianist s and to the whole community of what UD stood for.

After graduation, he started working with the Dayton police department, specifically with the hostage negotiation team as well as with the academy, training police officers in methods of de-escalation. It is his work with the police department and community mental health centers which brought him to the world of hostage negotiation and violence intervention where he helped develop the hostage negotiation systems in the US, which are used by the FBI as well as the New York Police Department.

Kohlrieser then took his mediation and hostage negotiations into the world of business. His work focuses on bringing in mediation emotions so that people can understand how to influence and lead others people. Kohlrieser explains that there is so much about leadership that has to do with human psychology including motivation, unresolved emotions, and emotions that block or create blind spots in leaders.

His team researched a thousand executives from all over the world on what it meant to find that psychological safety through a secure base that they would have for themselves, and that they were as a leader giving to others. This helped them narrow down the characteristics of secure base leadership, which is covered in "Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership" and which focuses on creating psychological safety, how to be a secure base, and covering those fundamentals that are now so important in teams and organizations.

“We have to have leaders be able to deal with emotions, and it's a no-no in many organizations how to balance cognitive activity with emotional activity. So we do a lot to teach people to understand that we are emotional beings who happen to think not the other way around. And avoiding the emotion is going to take you away from understanding motivation. You have to connect to pain points in your employees, in your suppliers, in your customers, in your, all those around you."

Listen to the entire podcast here

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