Jim Kutsch: Leader with a Cause

11 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010

See all articles by Erika Hayes James

Erika Hayes James

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Rebecca Oliver

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

This case explores the development of an authentic leader and the wisdom and drive of an extraordinary man. Undaunted by accidental blindness at age 16, Jim Kutsch has thrived in a career in teaching, technology, and management, in the process honing a collaborative leadership style based on pragmatism, hard work, and mutual respect. Interview excerpts and personal photos track the formative challenges and associations that have led to his current position as president of The Seeing Eye, the organization that established the training and managing of service dogs for the blind in the United States.

Excerpt

UVA-OB-0984

August 13, 2009

JIM KUTSCH: LEADER WITH A CAUSE

In 1967, at the age of 16, Jim Kutsch was blinded by a backyard chemistry experiment gone awry. At the time, very few schools existed to help the blind learn critical vocational or life skills, but Kutsch, an engineer at heart, reacted to the reality of his blindness with pragmatism. Certainly, he went through the stages of grief through the days, weeks, and years following the accident, but he did not allow himself to succumb to the temptation of accepting the “short end of the stick” as a way of life.

In the course of his career, he would invent the first talking computer for the blind, earn one PhD and receive a second honorary PhD, become an executive with major for-profit companies, and eventually become the first blind president of The Seeing Eye, the organization that established the training and managing of service dogs for the blind in the United States in 1929 (Figure 1). What was it about Jim Kutsch that allowed him, after what many would consider a permanently debilitating personal crisis, not only to persevere but to thrive?

Figure 1. Jim Kutsch, 2008.

. . .

Keywords: leadership development

Suggested Citation

James, Erika Hayes and Oliver, Rebecca, Jim Kutsch: Leader with a Cause. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0984. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1584137

Erika Hayes James (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4796 (Phone)
434-924-0714 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/james.htm

Rebecca Oliver

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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