For Leonard (Len) Schlesinger, entrepreneurship is a lifestyle – one that’s integral to the success of every 21st century leader. Formed from three decades of leadership expertise in industry and academia, this belief is a driving force of his work helping students and business professionals alike navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity and motivate teams to achieve common goals. Following nearly 15 years at the helm of several influential organizations, including Babson College, Limited Brands and Au Bon Pain, Schlesinger recently returned to his teaching roots as a Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor.

The President Emeritus of Babson College – consistently the number one-ranked entrepreneurship institution, a reputation he championed and solidified during his  tenure – Schlesinger helped develop and institute a new method for teaching entrepreneurship called Entrepreneurial Thought and Action®. He’s now part of another curriculum innovation at HBS. As Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration, Schlesinger teaches in the new FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) program, designed to give students meaningful opportunities to act like leaders and translate their ideas into practice.

A foremost authority in the services industry, Schlesinger served in executive positions with Limited Brands (1997-2007) – ending as vice chairman and chief operating officer – and was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Au Bon Pain (1985-1988). He has also consulted and lectured on service quality, customer satisfaction and organizational change for over 200 major corporations, non-profit organizations, governments and international leadership organizations around the world. Schlesinger was an active leader in the design and development of the renowned GE “Work-Out!” initiative, and the “Reinventing Government” process for the U.S. Department of Labor.

Well known for his pioneering research and publications on the “Service Profit Chain,” Schlesinger’s writings on organizational management have also been widely published. He is the author or co-author of 11 books, including “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 over 40 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 four major academic journals and published numerous case studies on management issues that have sold well over one million copies. He also has produced three video series on service management issues.

Schlesinger is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a member of the Corporation of the Winsor School and the President’s Council of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and a Director of Viewpost, LLC. He also serves as an advisory council member of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative and the Global Business Schools Network, and is a member of the Council on Competitiveness and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Schlesinger holds a Doctor of Business Administration from HBS, a MBA from Columbia University and a BA in American Civilization from Brown University.



Berrett-Koehler Publishers (September 2015)

Harvard Business School Faculty Page

Just Start

Twitter: @lschlesinger