Dr. James “Jim” Noble Farr
“Guru of Leadership Training”
Dr. Jim Farr, a psychologist who pioneered the thriving leadership consulting and training industry, died peacefully in his sleep at home in Greensboro, NC on June 13, 2000.
In the late 1960s, Jim Farr signed on as the initial founding director of the Center for Creative Leadership. Dr. Farr left the Center in 1972 to devote himself full-time to his company, but not before helping lay the groundwork for the Center’s rise in national prominence in leadership studies and training.
The founder of Farr Associates, a management consulting firm, Jim Farr spent his career studying what it takes to be an effective leader and sharing his findings through books and workshops.
Upon selling his enterprise to BB&T, he co-founded as president The Leadership Trust® with his appointed vice-president, Dr. Holly Latty-Mann. He also served as Executive Professor of Leadership at the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University. Upon the death of Jim Farr, this title was bestowed upon his business partner, Holly Latty-Mann, in view of the quality she brought to their leadership training program offered through their Institute of Executive Education.
While the above paragraph speaks solely to Jim’s professional contributions to the leadership industry – it’s been said “all leadership training paths lead to Dr. Jim Farr – there was/is so much more to this unique soul and character known as Jim Farr.
Jim shared in transparent fashion his “abandonment” as a child, and how that influenced the theories and concepts he developed regarding life and how “we make it all up, so we may as well make it up good.” In keeping with that premise, Jim made it up that he was a Buddhist, enjoying immensely the intellectual sparring regarding anything pertaining to philosophies and religions of life, all the while regarding in high esteem Holly’s faith in Christ’s teachings. In summary, it can be said that Jim honored all major religions that promoted lovingness and good will towards all.
It was deeply gratifying watching Jim Farr the last six to eight months of his life, evolve into the physical manifestation of the gentle spirit he always was on the inside. It was during this time he asked me as his friend rather than vice-president, about my own Christian faith, what I saw as his blind spots, and even sharing his own vulnerabilities. The most poignant message I got from Jim during these last few months of his life on earth is that great, workable philosophies and deeds are born in part from suffering, despair and/or failure. As such, these socially contributing giants like our late Dr. Jim Farr seem to typically travel such a path in order to exude – perhaps subtly – a certain touch of humility. But to recognize it, one must share a bit of the same. It was from such invigorating, philosophizing engagements with Jim that the “law of psychological polarities” was born amongst other great concepts and theories that support our unusually compelling, highly effective, catalytic processes to positive change.