Chris Kolenda

Founder of SLA; I work with extraordinary leaders of $100m enterprises achieve big goals in the simplest ways possible.

Chris Kolenda

Chris Kolenda

Founder, Strategic Leadership Academy

Christopher D. Kolenda, Ph.D., founder of the Strategic Leaders Academy, writes life-changing books, bicycles for great causes, and helps leaders achieve their dreams.

chris kolenda

Christopher D. Kolenda, Founder of the Strategic Leaders Academy, helps extraordinary leaders of $100m enterprises achieve big goals in the simplest ways possible.

When you are good at getting better,  you continuously reach new heights, personally and professionally. Determination is Destiny. Leaders who work with Chris:

* Live in ascendance to reach higher goals, personally and professionally.

* Create and exemplify a culture that produces unprecedented value for customers, employees, communities, and investors.

* Grow a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business while living a fulfilling personal life.

* Build a legacy that expands beyond your presence.

* Avoid the drift that comes after big wins or major setbacks.

* Make the compelling decisions that drive success.

* Develop practical wisdom, admirable habits, and big goals that turn success into significance.

Chris is both warrior and diplomat, combining assertiveness and statesmanship to gain dramatic wins. A West Point graduate, internationally renowned combat leader, and retired Army colonel, he defied conventional wisdom in Afghanistan by developing an innovative strategy that motivated a large insurgent group to switch sides, the only example of such success in the 20-year history of the war.

Unsatisfied with the complacency, Chris inspired change in the military’s strategy and got Pentagon officials on board to push for new diplomatic initiatives. As a trusted adviser to three 4-star generals and two Secretaries of Defense, Chris became the first American to have both fought the Taliban as a commander in combat and negotiated with them in peace talks.

After resigning from the government, he’s brought warrior-diplomacy to the private sector, helping business leaders challenge conventional wisdom, imagine the future, and implement innovations that soar their businesses to new heights. In 2022, Chris was recognized for his consulting accomplishments when he was inducted into The Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame.

His unique warrior-diplomacy has been featured in the New York Times bestselling books: The Outpost by Jake Tapper and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, as well as Steve Coll’s Directorate S and several others. His contributions have also been cited in journals and newspapers such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, and The London Times.

His books include Leadership: The Warrior’s Art, which has sold over 50,000 copies. The Counterinsurgency Challenge, and Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War.

Starting Strategic Leaders Academy

He resigned from the government in 2014 and his leadership consulting business took off. He decided in 2017 to create the Strategic Leaders Academy so that other former senior military leaders could continue serving while having a second career they love.

“Americans love the military. They respect veterans and appreciate their service,” he said. Most companies want to hire veterans, but they tend to want the young trooper or the junior officer.

When it comes to people who have spent 20-30 years leading organizations in the military, most companies and nonprofits shy away from them. “Many private sector and nonprofit leaders find a career of military service admirable and praiseworthy, but not commercially useful. I want to change that.”

Former senior military leaders are experts in the 3 BIG things: Leadership, Culture, and Strategy. “These issues require decades of study and experience to master, but most entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders don’t have the time to do so,” Chris explained. “This is where we come in. We cannot tell you what product to make or cause to support, but we can help you grow sustainably by working with you to get the 3 BIG things right: Leadership, Culture, and Strategy.”

Leading Well

In this short book, you’ll learn how to master the six habits that inspire people to contribute their best to your company’s success.


Chris Discussing Afghanistan on CNN

Ways to Work with Chris Kolenda

Mentorship Groups

Result-focused, senior leader forums where you solve problems, overcome obstacles and plan action steps that get you the outcomes you want.

Keynote Speaking

Highly-interactive and inspiring presentations that boost your Team’s performance.


Stop wasting time and energy in scatter-shot programs. Get your leadership development, culture, and strategy laser-focused and pointed in the right direction.

Team Training

Result-programs customized for your team so you can break down the barriers and bust through the walls that are holding you back so that you can achieve the success you deserve.

“Our employee engagement doubled from roughly 40% to 80% thanks to Chris’ support.”

“Chris’ strategy support helped us gain an additional $2 million in annual revenues – it was the difference between success and bankruptcy.”

“Dr. Kolenda kept me on the edge of my seat as he related his experiences and lessons from Afghanistan.  As a 30-year veteran and more recent student of international-level politics and security, I could really relate, but his lessons are for more than just veterans; they are for anyone wishing to understand the role of forgiveness and understanding in conflict resolution.”

Recent Articles by Chris Kolenda

What Surgery Taught Me About Rule- Breaking - Chris Kolenda

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