Managing transitions: The secret to thriving in Switzerland An interview with George Kohlrieser, an award winning psychologist, author and expat

From Cincinnati to Basel, from a farm boy to international leadership guru, George Kohlreiser shares his wisdom on how to manage international transitions and thrive in your new home.

George's journey is truly inspiring: from Ohio farm boy, to Catholic seminary, to hostage negotiator — George now is a global reference for High Potential Leadership. So how did a hostage negotiator become the global reference of High Potential Leadership? Contributor Sunita Sehmi explains more in an interview with George.

How did you manage with your own transitions in your own life?

I have had many secure bases in my life. My definition of a "secure base" is a person, place, and goal or objects that provides a sense of protection, safety and caring and offers a source of inspiration and energy for daring, exploration, risk taking and seeking challenge.

You often say, "You can't say a proper hello unless you say a proper goodbye." What do you mean by that?

Grief can happen every time there is a break in a "bond", which could be a move to another country. My primary focus is on grief in everyday life, both personal and organizational. Have you gotten over pain to fully reconnect to your everyday life to live your dreams?

How does grief play a role for the expat community?

Everybody goes through losses, big and small the loss of a home, community, friends and family. The question you need to ask yourself is will you allow a loss to hold you "hostage" and limit you in your future endeavors, by focusing on regret, guilt or unresolved grief? Or will the experience of loss enable you to fi nd a new identity or goal, re-connect with people, and enjoy life again?

What is your golden tip for coping with transitions?

Accept, acknowledge your confl icts, and think of it as a learning opportunity. I encourage the international community to connect with the local community, build relationships and take this as a learning experience.



George Kohlrieser is an internationally recognized expert on leadership, award-winning bestselling author, consultant, media commentator and motivational speaker. In his role as Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD business school in Switzerland he draws on 45 years of experience as a psychologist and veteran hostage negotiator. He is acclaimed for introducing the hostage metaphor to leadership development.

For more information and contact with George Kohlrieser, click on the links to visit his user profile on any of the following services: 
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Author: Sunita Sehmi

With more than 20 years of experience in being an expat, Sunita Sehmi has a passion for helping her clients to maximize their potential and help professionals improve their professional skills. Sunita's strength lies in her ability to drive each and every client to perform his or her best. For more info about Sunita please contact her at

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