Marilyn Gist, PhD

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Marilyn Gist, PhD

Author and Educator

Drawing from decades of experience working with thousands of leaders, Marilyn Gist shares how leader behaviors gain support or disengagement from stakeholders and how excellent leaders are able to energize others through the extraordinary power of leader humility.

Marilyn Gist, PhD Profile Photo

As author of The Extraordinary Power of Leader Humility, Marilyn Gist guides leaders in creating thriving organizations and great results. Imagine a world in which all leaders feel and display a deep regard for others’ dignity. This is what humility means and it helps leaders resolve conflict, increase engagement, and optimize performance. Marilyn has extensively studied why leader humility is the essential foundation of all healthy organizations and validated her work with interviews of prominent CEOs of companies ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Ford to Starbucks and Costco. She adds value through ground-breaking insight: the six keys required for leaders to work together well with all stakeholders. According to Marshall Goldsmith, “Marilyn Gist’s The Extraordinary Power of Leader Humility, is a must-read for every leader.” This bestselling book has been featured in Forbes and Quartz, and Marilyn’s ideas on leader humility have appeared in The Hill, CEOWorld, Sirius SM Wharton Radio, and numerous podcasts. Ken Blanchard who authored The One-Minute Manager says, “This inspiring book belongs on the desk of every CEO and politician in America.”

Based on this work, Marilyn consults widely and is a keynote speaker on topics emphasizing NextGen Leadership, Rising out of Crisis, and Get Off the Sidelines and Into the Game (the latter being geared toward female leaders). A recognized expert, Marilyn brings direct leadership experience along with academic credentials. As former Associate Dean, Professor of Management, and Executive Director of the Center for Leadership Formation, she led the design and development of Seattle University’s Leadership EMBA degree program from its inception in 2006 to rank as high as #11 in the nation by US News and World Report. She began her academic career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She later joined the University of Washington where she held the Boeing Endowed Professorship of Business Management and served as Faculty Director of Executive MBA programs for many years. Her research has been highly cited by others, demonstrating exceptional thought leadership.

Marilyn earned her BA from Howard University and her MBA and PhD from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a member of the Academy of Management, American Psychological Association, Marshall Goldsmith 100, and the International Women’s Forum.

Featured Videos

Marilyn Gist, PhD Profile Photo
Marilyn Gist, PhD
Marilyn Gist on Leadership Being a Relationship
Marilyn Gist, PhD Profile Photo
Marilyn Gist, PhD
Marilyn Gist on Dignity

Marilyn Gist, PhD’s Speech Topics

  • NextGen Leadership: Keys to Optimize Impact

    Many NextGen leaders have phenomenal potential but need further leadership development before advancing in their careers. A challenge for early leaders is shifting from being an expert individual contributor to a leader of people. In this talk, Marilyn Gist shares stories and cases of success and failure, and illuminates the leader’s unique responsibilities: initiating, influencing, and implementing. By seeing how these depend on relationships with people, NextGen leaders recognize the need for humility (genuine respect for others’ dignity) as a foundation for strong leadership and great results.

  • Joining the Main Stage: How Marginalized Leaders Excel

    This eye-opening and inspiring talk makes a difference for women, minorities, and others who find themselves marginalized by heritage or demographic group. Systemic factors, personal confidence, and lack of mentoring can contribute to the unfortunate sidelining of organizational talent. This is career-limiting for the individuals so affected and harmful to organizations that fail to benefit by weak talent management.


    In this session, Marilyn Gist shares stories of success and failure and frank discussion challenges. This talk equips marginalized-group members to understand their unique responsibilities: building relationships across the divide, self-advocacy while supporting others’ dignity, and positive commitment to growth coupled with personal responsibility for success.

  • Rising Out of Crisis: Becoming a Master Leader

    In this popular talk, Marilyn Gist will take leaders to the next level by emphasizing the hidden factors to exceptional leadership. This keynote or workshop is especially valuable for mid to senior management and can be tailored for exclusive delivery to executive teams.  


    The dynamic program integrates inspiring case examples from CEOs of Fortune 50 firms with compelling evidence from research. The path to becoming a master leader is both clear – and surprising – for most. Participants learn how to optimize relationships with all stakeholders to favorably influence sales, the bottom line, brand reputation, and employee relations.  

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