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Leslie Pratch, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and MBA who specializes in helping public and privately held firms identify whether executives being considered to lead companies possess the competencies and psychological resources they need to be effective in a specific role. Over the past 18 years she has evaluated 570 prospective business leaders for 85 organizations. The predictive validity of her assessments exceeds 98%.

Her evaluations are derived from research she led at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. These studies and her subsequent research focused on what makes successful business leaders effective: Do a firm’s most capable managers possess personality attributes that can be identified years before those managers are ready to assume top leadership roles? In Looks Good on Paper? (Columbia University Press, July 2014) she describes this approach and its applications to assessing and developing high-performing business leaders.

Since 1998, Leslie’s advisory work has emphasized the assessment and development of executives and succession planning by officers and directors. Her client base includes corporations and professional service firms. She also advises executives on ways to maximize their professional success. For the past 18 years, Leslie has focused on helping private equity investors reduce the risk associated with investing in uncertain management capability. She is also experienced as an expert witness in matters relating to leadership capability and performance.

Work experience

Feb 1998Present

President & CEO

Pratch & Company

Pratch & Company helps private equity investors, senior executives and corporate directors more successfully manage the human dimensions of executing corporate strategy. For our clients, we assess the leadership strengths and shortcomings of executives who must function well for buyouts, turnarounds, and mergers to achieve their targets. We coach executives in order to support lasting improvement in executives' effectiveness. We advise organizations on key aspects of finding, creating, developing and keeping executive talent.

We reduce the number of hiring mistakes and provide guidance for how Boards and other leaders can get the most performance out of executives who should be (and are) hired. To improve the quality of hiring decisions we use a unique approach to psychological assessment, our Active Coping Assessment SM system. This system, rigorously tested in academic research and published in peer-reviewed journals, permits us to make fine-grained distinctions and powerful predictions that are not possible using any other assessment approach. Assessing key executives with this system prior to hiring them or deciding whether to fund a particular proposal dramatically enhances the chances of making the right decision. Given the enormous human and financial costs of hiring mistakes, an investment in a psychological assessment repays itself many times over. 

The predictive power of our clinically based methods of assessing potential executives and other business leaders is more than three times as great as the skills and talent tests and methods used by most psychologists who act as business consultants. Our methods tap into behaviors and attitudes that the subject cannot control but which nevertheless exert powerful influence over how he or she functions in the work place. Our clients regard our assessment as the best kind of psychological due diligence to be undertaken prior to making funding and/or hiring decisions.

Our coaching services help high-functioning executives and entrepreneurs achieve rapid and long-lasting personal growth. They gain a deep understanding of their psychological strengths and weaknesses and how their personality can be leveraged to improve their decision-making. We evaluate management teams to assess their ability to meet corporate objectives. These audits identify organizational, interpersonal or goal-related conflicts or tensions that may be interfering with organizational effectiveness.


Apr 1997Jun 2000


University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Specialized in Finance and Corporate Strategy

Sep 1990Jun 1995


Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 

Clinical Psychology (A.P.A.-accredited). Dissertation on “Some Personality Correlates of Small Group Leadership Effectiveness in Business School Students.”

Sep 1985Jun 1988


University of Chicago, Committee on Human Development 

Focused on psychological, sociological, and anthropological theory and research on human development; see below for Trial Research

Sep 1980Jun 1984


Williams College

Cum Laude. Majored in Religion

Other Professional (Including Teaching) Experience


Co-instructor, six-week seminar (one morning per week) on Integrity for the Academy for Faith and Life, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL


Taught one-day seminar on Marketing for female income and equity partners, Schiff Hardin, LLC


Taught two-day seminar on Managing the Recruitment Process and Interviewing Prospective CEOs of Early Stage Ventures, St. Paul Venture Capital


Taught one course in Finance, The University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies (students must meet the criteria of The University of Chicago, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the Graham School)


Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Psychology, Illinois State University (A.P.A.-accredited). (My responsibilities included teaching classes to undergraduates in psychology and psychopathology as well as seeing patients in the student mental health center)


Taught courses on Personality and Psychopathology in the Department of Psychology at Illinois State University


Consultant to State Farm Insurance Companies, headquartered in Bloomington-Normal, where I developed a comprehensive behaviorally anchored competency framework still in use today throughout all State Farm Insurance Companies


Taught courses on Personality and Psychopathology in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University


Principal Investigator, research project into the personality predictors of leadership effectiveness at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business (see my articles from 1996-1998)


Consultant to Andersen Worldwide on a project with Marvin Zonis, then Chair of the Committee on Human Development at The University of Chicago, advising Andersen on the development of a program for transforming auditing partners into more lucrative “trusted business advisors.”


Research Associate, The University of Chicago, Committee on Human Development. My research focused on gender differences in an interdisciplinary study on homosexual identity formation in gay and lesbian youth.


Leslie S. Pratch, Looks Good on Paper?: Using In-Depth Personality Assessment to Predict Leadership Performance (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).

Articles and Book Chapters

Leslie S. Pratch, “Going, going, gone - How fast do your CEOs decay?,” The European Financial Review, (August 17, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Serious human capital management for seriously good performance,” The European Financial Review, (August 15, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Systematically get the evidence you need,” The European Financial Review, (August 1, 2016) “”


Leslie S. Pratch, “Getting systematic about management assessments,” The European Financial Review, (July 18, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “How to avoid an ugly mess,” The European Financial Review, (June 24, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “I'm afraid to ask an executive to do a "touchy-feely" management assessment,” The European Financial Review, (June 6, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “When the CEO hasn’t ‘done it all before’ – but could still be the right choice,” The European Financial Review, (May 18, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Management assessment leads to action and improved ROI,” The European Financial Review, (April 20, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “How some private equity investors use management assessments,” The European Financial Review, (April 18, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Experience can be deceiving when it comes to securing success,” The European Financial Review, (March 30, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “An investor’s least favorite statement – ‘Oops, wrong CEO’,” The European Financial Review, (February 17, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Leaders who always get the job done,” The European Financial Review, (February 2, 2016),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Management for when you least expect it,” The European Financial Review, (December 22, 2015),


Leslie S. Pratch, “How to get what you want (and how to move – fast – when you don’t),” The European Financial Review, (December 8, 2015),


Leslie S. Pratch, “The one personality trait to look out for when hiring your next executive,” Fast Company, (July 10, 2014),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Why integrity and coping skills are better indicators of leadership,” Directorship Magazine, (2012).


Leslie S. Pratch, “Why women leaders need self-confidence,” Harvard Business Review Blog Network, (November 28, 2011),


Leslie S. Pratch, “Integrity in business executives,” Journal of Private Equity, (2009), 13(1), pp. 1-45.


Leslie S. Pratch, “The Use of a Clinical Psychological Method to Predict Management Performance,” Journal of Private Equity, (2008), 12(1), pp. 6-30.


Leslie S. Pratch and Jordan Jacobowitz, “Optimal psychological autonomy and its implications for selecting portfolio CEOs,” Journal of Private Equity, (2007), 11(1), pp. 53-70.


Leslie S. Pratch, “Value-added investing:  A framework for early stage venture capital firms, Journal of Private Equity, (2005), 8(3), pp. 13-29.


Leslie S. Pratch and Jordan Jacobowitz, “Successful CEOs of private equity funded ventures,” Journal of Private Equity, (2004), 7(3), pp. 8-31.


Leslie S. Pratch and Harry Levinson, “Understanding the Personality of the Executive,” in R. Silzer ed., The 21st Century Executive:  Innovative Practices for Building Leadership at the Top (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002).


Leslie S. Pratch, “Assessing potential leaders of private equity funded ventures,” Journal of Private Equity, (2001), 4(3), pp. 15-29.


Leslie S. Pratch and Jordan Jacobowitz, “Integrative capacity and the evaluation of leadership: A multi-method assessment approach,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, (1998), 34(2), pp.180-201.


Leslie S. Pratch and Jordan Jacobowitz, “The psychology of leadership in rapidly changing conditions,” The Journal of Social Psychology, (1997), 123(2), pp. 169-196.


Leslie S. Pratch and Jordan Jacobowitz, “Gender, motivation, and coping in the evaluation of leadership effectiveness,” Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, (1996), 48(4), pp. 203-220.

Honors, Prizes, and Awards


Interned as an undergraduate at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. My research on the public perception of the risk of nuclear power, based on solicitation data, was selected by Hans Blix, then Director General of the IAEA, as the best research paper in the program.


Century Fellowship (full tuition), The University of Chicago, Human Development.



The European Business Review, Female Leadership in Our Time, Women in Leadership.



Fortune Magazine, The One Trait Successful Leaders Share.


Investor’s Business Daily, Be a Top Executive By Continuously Studying the Best.


Columbia University Press Blog, Interview with Leslie Pratch.


Market Watch, Does your CEO have the right stuff – How to tell.

Invited Speaking

2014                 Webinar, “The Number One Trait Effective Leaders Have to Have,” The University of Chicago

2014                 Speaker, “Predicting Leadership,” at Quarterly Meeting of Executive Search Information Exchange, New York City, NY

2014                 Webinar, “Psychological Assessment in Selecting Executives,” ExecuNet (on-line network of C-level executives)

2013                 Speaker, “A Clinical Approach to Assessing and Developing Entrepreneurs,” Illinois Institute of Technology, Technology Park, Chicago, IL

2012                 Keynote Speaker, “Gender, Coping, and Leadership,” at Annual Meeting of female senior executives at Lend Lease (one of the world's leading fully integrated property and infrastructure solutions providers), Sydney, Australia

2012                 Keynote speaker, “Actual versus Perceived Processes that Underpin Executive Success,” and Panelist for the University of Melbourne’s Business School, Annual Three-Day Report to Industry Sponsors and Researchers of the Gender Equity Project, Melbourne, Australia

2010                 Keynote speaker, “Active Coping and Successful Leadership,” Altus Capital CEO Summit

2010                 Moderator, Panel, “The Merits of Traditional Due Diligence, Creative Approaches to Diligence, and Processes to Flush Out Difficult Issues During Management Due Diligence,” Midwest Regional Association of Small Business Investment Companies, Chicago, IL

2010                 Keynote speaker, “Reducing the Risk of Uncertain Management Capability,” Merit Capital’s Independent Sponsor Forum, Chicago, IL

2009                 Keynote speaker, “Management Assessment: A Clinical Approach,” Executive Search Information Exchange (ESIX), New York, NY

2008                 Speaker, “Management Team Building,” Wynnchurch Capital

2008                 Panelist, Chicago Private Equity Network (CPEN), five sponsors including The University of Chicago Polsky Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

2006                 Panelist, National Summit for Middle Market Funds, Small Business Investor Alliance

2006                 Panelist, Association for Corporate Growth, Chicago Chapter Private Equity Network

2005                 Keynote speaker, “Gaining Insights You Need to Actively Cope In Your Life and Career,” Financial Women’s Association

2004                 Keynote speaker, “Reducing the Risks of Investing in Uncertain Management Capability,” Strategic Research Institute, M&A Private Equity Round–Up

2002                 Keynote speaker, “What Makes Successful Entrepreneurs Tick,” Society of Kaufmann Fellows, Annual Meeting of the Alumni