Dr. James D. Leslie
I have the broad base of experience, and education needed to help those suffering from addiction and the stresses of life. Prominent among these experiences is thirty years of observation, critical reflection, and academic teaching and research based upon studying individual and group learning dynamics of sustained addiction recovery.
Researchers have generated much clinical knowledge of the nature of drug and alcohol dependence and its devastating effects on people.
Many studies have examined the medical, emotional, and sociological roots of addiction. When confronted with the causes of addiction, experts cite everything from a genetic predisposition to cultural and sociological factors. And what has been confirmed is the most effective way to combat addiction is through abstinence. Abstinence is easily monitored while the addict is living in a treatment facility. To help individuals achieve long-term recovery, medical practitioners often recommend psychological counseling, group therapy, and other types of long-term treatment to combat the propensity of the addict to relapse into substance abuse.
With a background of more than thirty years of sustained personal recovery, I founded Human Innovation Concepts (HIC) to provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) for organizations which wish to provide proactive EAP guidance and counseling for the workforce. I have consulted with many employees who when given the opportunity to transform their lives through the EAP process, reached their full organizational and personal potential and became great assets to their employers, community and family.
HIC believes that the role of being an EAP provider should encompass a holistic view of those we help.
- We believe that sustained recovery, enhanced quality of life, and optimal workplace performance are processes that work together.
- We believe employee morale is sustained in a workplace that values the dignity and potential of each employee.
- We believe the role of a modern provider of EAP services includes the selection of and collaboration with the best treatment centers and therapists in the country which focus on aftercare and integration of wellness modalities into the lives of participants; on-site learning programs that inform and educate the workforce on the negative consequences of many forms of substance abuse and other personal stressors; and wellness seminars that work to enhance employee health, contribute to quality of life and increase organizational sustainability, efficiency and morale.
My research has focused on the examination of self-help organizations from the perspective of organizational/collective learning; describing the characteristics that provide the collective with a process of sharing knowledge and creating organizational meaning.
The following issues informed my research: (a) how members of the organization define their personal learning and its impact on their recovery; (b) the link between individual and collective learning; and (c) the phenomenon that determines the learning of the collective and key determinants or processes that enhance recovery or result in relapse.
I have more than thirty years of observation, critical reflection, and academic teaching and research experience studying the individual and group learning dynamics of sustained addiction recovery. Researchers have generated much clinical knowledge about the nature of alcoholism and its devastating effects on people  Many studies have examined the medical, emotional, and sociological roots of this disease. When confronted with the causes for this disease, experts cite everything from a genetic predisposition to cultural and sociological factors. The most effective way to combat alcoholism is through abstinence. Abstinence is easily monitored while the alcoholic is living in a treatment facility. Upon discharge from treatment, doctors often prescribe a drug called Antabuse that causes violent illness when the alcoholic consumes alcohol. The success rate of detoxification, treatment, and even Antabuse is less than 50% . To help individuals achieve long-term sobriety, medical practitioners often recommend psychological counseling, group therapy, and other types of long-term treatment  to combat the propensity of the alcoholic to relapse into drinking.
One form of group treatment often recommended is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This organization has many benefits. First, it is free. Second, it is open to all segments of society. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. Third, its participants have one of top rates of long-term recovery of any treatment program in the world.
AA traces its beginnings to two alcoholics who founded the organization in Akron, Ohio, in 1935. AA has existed for 77 years and has grown steadily throughout the world. Each group has the right to conduct its affairs while being loosely coupled to the other groups that form AA as a whole . AA is a unique organization. It has proven effective in adapting to the external environment in which each alcoholic must live. AA has integrated its message and recovery philosophy so as to maintain coordination among independent groups.
My research has focused on the examination of AA (and other self-help organizations) from the perspective of organizational/collective learning; describing the characteristics that provide the AA collective with a process to share knowledge and create organizational meaning. The following issues informed my research: (a) how members of the organization define their personal learning and its impact on their recovery; (b) the link between individual and collective learning ; and (c) the phenomenon that determines the learning of the collective in a nonprofit, loosely structured organization.
Particular attention was given to evaluation methods that separated the systemic from the idiosyncratic findings of the study. Utilizing a qualitative case study methodology the narrative data was analyzed to determine if there was consistency in learning incidents across sites and if this was embedded in the organizational structure of AA rather than manifest in its participants. The strength of the structural analysis, (Blau, 1994), was critical to extrapolation of data in the formation of a collective organizational learning synthesis based upon the evaluation of the input of the individuals interviewed in the study. The aggregation and evaluation of the qualitative data gained through the interview process identified what, if any, “language, social objects, and human actions created the cultural beliefs, values, assumptions and artifacts of the organization.” (Schwandt, 1995, p 25).
The following definition of learning informed my research and data analysis; “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” This definition emphasizes several critical aspects of the learning process as viewed from the experiential perspective. First is the process of adaptation and learning as opposed to content or outcomes. Second is that knowledge is a transformation process being continuously created and recreated, not an independent entity to be acquired or transmitted. Third, learning transforms experience in both its objective and subjective forms (Kolb, 1984, p. 38; Kim 1993, p. 46).
This definition provided a guide to explore the means by which the research participants related their experiences to the learning that helped to overcome their addiction to alcohol. Supported by the theoretical constructs used in the study, this approach facilitated both micro and macro analysis of the research findings (Hay, 1999; Klein, Tosi, & Canella, 1999). This multi-level analysis utilized the various constructs to provide a framework to aggregate and disaggregate the data provided by the research respondents. The purpose of this framework was to describe the link between individual and collective learning in AA.
Thus, the structure of any given collective (e.g. a work team or AA group) can be viewed as a series of ongoing events, and event cycles between the parts (e.g. individuals). This structure, in turn, forms the basis for the essential emergence of collective constructs. In other words, the collective action (which is compound of on-goings and events) enables collective phenomena to emerge (Morgeson & Hofmann, 1999, p. 252).
- Positions and Honors
1993-1998 Adjunct Faculty, Industrial Relations/Personnel Administration, Florida Institute of Technology, Patuxent River, MD
2002-2006 Adjunct Faculty, LBCR 4000 Introduction to Labor Studies, National Labor College, Silver Springs, MD
2002-2006 Adjunct Faculty, HRD Masters, George Washington University, Washington, DC
2009-2011 Visiting Professor/Program Director, Executive Leadership Doctoral Program, George Washington University, Washington, DC
1973-2006 Director, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Winpisinger Education and Technology Center, Hollywood, MD
2009-2011 Director, Executive Leadership Doctoral Program, George Washington University, Washington, DC
Doctoral Credit Courses Taught
Human and Organizational Learning (HOL) Courses
Leadership in Organizations: Developments in theory and research centered on organizational leadership. Emphasis on transformational leadership.
Research and Independent Study: For students who have a specific interest in a topic related to human and organizational learning. An in-depth project is completed under the guidance of a faculty member. The course is arranged individually with an instructor.
Organization Theory/Strategy: Overview of paradigms, theories, models, and organizations and strategy to understand organizations and their environments.
Human Systems Change: The classical and contemporary ideas related to social systems change; the relation of these ideas to current issues in organizations.
Foundations of Human and Organizational Learning: Relationships between individuals and their interactions in groups within an organizational context. Overview of theoretical foundations of key areas associated with HRD like motivation, systems theory, group dynamics, organizational culture, and learning.
Theory and Design of Organizational Diagnosis and Development: Focus on various paradigms through which organizations and their functions may be viewed; a variety of analytical models of organizations; techniques for assessing systems; application of analysis techniques.
Practicum in Human and Organizational Learning
Advanced Organizational Learning: The psychological and sociological paradigms associated with the learning of a collective whole. Various disciplines related to current research and practice.
Active in Dissertation Committee Appointments for George Washington University
Master-Level Credit Courses
Adult Learning for HRD Professionals (George Washington University)
Industrial Relations and Personnel Administration (Florida Institute of Technology)
Contemporary Issues in HRD Leadership (George Washington University)
Consultant, Human Innovation Concepts LLC, Mount Dora, FL
Co-founded this consulting company to facilitate training programs that identify and resolve psychosocial workplace issues, as well as encourage employees and management to renew or develop a dynamic partnership based on positive core analysis. Forge strategic dialogic communication among all stakeholders—management, employee, stockholders and community.
- Pioneered extensive program designed to target key ACTs (Action Collaborative Training) that include 1) Leadership: Building a Joint Action Plan, 2) Workers: Targeting and Resolving Workplace Psychosocial Issues, 3) Policy Makers: Identify and reduce costly psychosocial issues in the enterprise, 4) Workers/Supervisors: Action modules targeting stress, work-life quality, and efficiency.
- Create productive workplace relationships with an emphasis on collaborative work organizations and dialogic leadership communication practices. Shift perceptions from reactionary problem solving to proactive, positive change agenda based on communication, collective strengths and employee engagement.
- Contribution to Science
Joint Training Programs
2008-2010 Human Relations and Employee Assistance Programs
2010-2011 Dialogic Leadership
2010-2012 Strategic Planning
2010-2012 Appreciative Inquiry
2010-2012 Organizational Diagnosis
2011 Integrating Union Cultures during Mergers and Acquisitions
2011-2012 Dynamic Reciprocating Interaction Model of Quality of Work-Life and Organizational Sustainability
- Research Support
2000 Organizational Learning in Alcoholics Anonymous: An Egalitarian Non-Profit Organization. The study involved analysis of regular attendees of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and identifying factors that enhance or impede organizational learning.
2004 Certified International Labor Organization (United Nations) SOLVE Course Director
Academy of Management
University of College Labor Association
International Labor Organization (United Nations)
Society for Dispute Resolution Practitioners
International Association of Machinists
Society for Human Resource Management
United Association of Labor Educators
1979 Presenter, Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Workplace Carcinogen Standards. Michigan State University, Lansing, MI.
1993 Presenter, Conference on Improving Quality of Work Life. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
1997 Panel Presenter, Fiftieth Anniversary Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Innovative workplace practices, to improve economic performance and enhance economic development, employment security, and organizational effectiveness. Washington, DC.
2003 Chief Spokesperson, Worker Interests, United Nations Tri-Partite Symposium on Global Electrical Manufacturing Industries. Creating sustainable job growth opportunities. Geneva, Switzerland.
2004 Presenter, An Educational Approach to Addressing Psychosocial Issues in the Workplace Based Upon The International Labor Organization SOLVE Program. United Association of Labor Educators Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
2004 Presenter, Strategic Workplace Planning Initiatives: Based Upon an Organizational Learning Model. Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN.
2005 Presenter, Psychosocial Issues at Work. Gold, D., Leslie, J. Four-day course followed by four day Train-the-Course-Director Course for East Africa and Arusha, Tanzania.
2004-2006 Visiting Lecturer, International Labor Organization, Employee Assistance Program Development/Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
2008 Conference Attendance and Workshop Participation, Psychological Factors at Work – From Knowledge to Action. Psychosocial Factors in Workplace Stress Abatement, based upon Dr. Robert Karasek’s Job Content Questionnaire and Demand-Control Stress model. 3rd ICOH_WOPS International Conference. Quebec City, Canada.
Publication and Activities
1978 Participated, Task Force Developing First Employee Assistance Program for the Detroit, Michigan Breweries, with the National Brewers Association and the National Council on Alcoholism, Detroit, MI.
1985 Carcinogen Standards Board representing Michigan State University. Michigan Occupational Health Administration, Lansing, MI.
1973-1985 Advocate Labor Dispute Arbitration. Cases Published: Labor Arbitration Reports Cases; FMCS Case No. 76K/07585, 1976; FMCS Case No. 75K06244, 1975.
2004 Paper Presentation, Fifth Annual CHAOS Conference. Croswell, Clyde V., Leslie, James, and Wagoner, Chris. Leadership and moving from “I” to “We”: Transformational learning experiences, building collective trust, and dialogic leadership in Alcoholics Anonymous, formal teams, and professional education associations. George Washington Center for The Study of Learning, Auburn, VA.
2013 Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC). Into the Abyss and Back Again: A Qualitative Study of Organizational Learning. Paper accepted and presented by Dr. James Leslie and Dr. David Schwandt. Washington, DC.
2015 Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC). Walking Back From the Edge of Self Destruction: The Storytelling in Alcoholics Anonymous. Paper Accepted for Presentation and Inclusion. Milan, Italy.