Legacy and Future

The legacy of Dr. Paul Hersey and the future of The Center for Leadership Studies.

Episode Transcript


Welcome to The Center for Leadership Studies podcast, an exploration of contemporary leadership issues with experts from a variety of fields and leadership backgrounds. In this episode, Sam Shriver, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at The Center for Leadership Studies, discusses the legacy of Dr. Paul Hersey and the future of The Center for Leadership Studies, the Home of Situational Leadership®.

Sam Shriver

CLS does have a very enviable story to tell, and I think the place you have to start with that is that was founded by a really smart guy. And I think anybody who knew Dr. Paul Hersey or spent time listening to him over the years would have a tough time arguing with me on that one. He really was a unique trailblazing force in our industry. In my opinion, anyway, he did as much as anybody to contribute to the training and development industry in general and the leadership development portion of that industry in particular.

Anybody who knew Dr. Hershey or spent any time with him whatsoever would tell you that he was the kind of guy who was passionate about many things in life. They would also clearly tell you that the thing he was probably most passionate about was Situational Leadership®.

He was the situational leader. It was a huge part of his identity in life and will undoubtedly be a huge part of his legacy now that he has passed. Beyond that, I think it’s safe to say that Dr. Hershey could best be described as a strong personality, which, of course, was a massive understatement. Consider this, not only was he actively involved with The Center for Leadership Studies in our business throughout the design of our new curriculum, but think about this for a second. On November 15 of last year, he was on his feet conducting a session, helping us roll out the curriculum for one of our best customers. When he finished signing some books, he headed to the elevator. Later that day, he went to a scheduled follow-up appointment with his physician.

It was at that point that he found out his cancer had not only returned, but it had spread on December 18. Basically, a month later, he was gone. Unfortunately, I have to imagine just about everybody has lost a close friend, a family member, or a colleague to cancer. It probably goes without saying that it is a life experience all of us would gladly forego if we could. When the end comes, even if you’ve had 30 days or so of advance notice, it’s still difficult for those left behind to grasp what has transpired and figure out how you’re going to move forward. In our case, collectively, as we searched for some good news in the midst of figuring out how to move forward, we came to grips with how truly fortunate were.

We worked for an incredibly insightful person who contributed as much as anyone to our dynamic industry. Beyond that, as we sat down the last year or so to design an upgrade and an expansion of our offerings, we not only had the benefit of Dr. Hershey’s blessing for what we had in mind, but we also had the benefit of his insight in shaping its form. We are the home of Situational Leadership®. Clearly, there are lots of imitators out there, but this is where it all started. The original, the first. It’s really kind of wild. How many people in the world have had exposure to Situational Leadership® when you really start to think about it in one form or another over the years?

Again, credit to Dr. Hersey and everybody else at The Center for Leadership Studies who helped him spread the word over the last six decades. But you would have to say objectively that Situational Leadership® is on a very short list of foundational contributions that has withstood the test of time. It’s absolutely every bit as relevant today as it was when Gerald Ford was president. And I bet there are a number of people that would kind of listen to that analogy and say, you know, who? So maybe I should say something like, it’s been around since the Beatles played Shea Stadium, or long before the first Fax machine, or when the football-playing Rams played in Los Angeles and not in, you know, whatever. It is a concept, and it is a model that has withstood the test of time.

One more thing I would throw in the mix is the strategic partnership CLS has recently formed with Performance Impact. Basically, you take CLS with all the staying power and the global reach I just described, and you combine it with a niche custom development house that has lived, designing, and developing cutting-edge, award-winning blended curriculums for 25 years. Basically, when you put those two things together, you have an organization that has a global reach with the ability to customize, tailor, and go where customers want us to go.

We plan absolutely to stay true to our foundation. Situational Leadership® is built on a foundation of solid rock. Dr. Hersey first published Management of Organizational Behavior in 1969. It was really the first book in the behavioral sciences that anybody outside of academia ever read. In a nutshell, Mob Coalesced over 50 years of groundbreaking contributions in the behavioral sciences into language that literally anybody could understand. One thing we absolutely need to do is we need to make sure that we respect that foundation. At the same time, we need to remain open to emerging research that either confirms or challenges our rock.

Another thing we’re absolutely committed to doing, moving forward, is we need to ensure that everything we do remains practical and behavioral. Situational Leadership® has always been about behavior change that isn’t going anywhere. We have always prided ourselves on taking complicated things and making them simple as opposed to the other way around. I think it’s safe to say that we live in a complex world that is going to do nothing but continue to become increasingly complex.

That’s not to say that leadership in any generation has ever been easy because it hasn’t. But leaders today can and do get bombarded by their environments. The variables that present themselves can literally be overwhelming. To that point, the absolute essence of what we at CLS consider our core value proposition to be is to produce and present a practical, repeatable behavioral model that leaders at all levels of an organization can use to formulate strategies for influencing others. So why is CLS unique? Three things, really: smart founder, timeless foundational model, and strategic partnership.


Thank you for listening to The Center for Leadership Studies podcast. Through its innovative leadership development programs, The Center for Leadership Studies has helped millions of individuals across the globe become more effective leaders and has helped thousands of organizations build more productive and engaged workforces. For additional information on our services and products, please visit Situational.com or call 800. 330.2840. At The Center for Leadership Studies, we build leaders.