Category: Deborah Ancona

Social media professionals need leadership skills

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 3 days ago

The “Twitterverse” is awash in corporate brands publishing inappropriate, insensitive and/or irrelevant tweets. As of this writing, the latest corporate Twitter embarrassment happened to DiGiorno Pizza, a U.S.-based frozen pizza brand owned by Nestlé. Someone on the DiGiorno social media team jumped on the hashtag #WhyIStayed—used in discussions about domestic abuse—responding most unfortunately: “You had pizza.” While the team quickly deleted the tweet and apologized, the error was very public—and, as with most Twitter gaffes, highlighted a recurring problem with Twitter: a corporate brand’s social media team ignoring context.

One common response to any social media gaffe is to assume the brand’s social media team is comprised of interns or millennials—those “digital native” workers who grew up with texting, tweeting, and posting to Facebook walls. In many cases, that assumption is correct. Those newer workers often lack the business experience and leadership skills necessary to maintain and promote an on-brand, relevant, and appropriate social presence. 

The answer? Education. Millennials should learn, adopt, and cultivate key leadership practices in an effort to become savvier business professionals. In the article, “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader,” MIT Sloan Professor Deborah Ancona presents the four leadership capabilities all organizations require: sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing. While all these skills are extremely valuable, the skill of sensemaking is the most relevant to those professionals working in social media.

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Changing the mind of a leader—literally

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 1 day ago

Today’s most effective leaders are skilled at making sense of complex environments. They are continually moving away from "command and control" leadership models to a "cultivate and coordinate" approach. These leaders harness “aha” moments and turn them into business innovations. And they take risks on a regular basis in order to revise their map of what’s really going on in their organization and the marketplace in which they operate. These leaders are internally powered by an innovative mindset that quite truly changes the playing field in which all businesses operate.


Then there are the rest of us—the vast majority of people in management and leadership positions—who fear failure and whose ability to innovate is underutilized; whose safety-first approach to doing business has likely served us well in the past but is now holding us back. 

What if you’re the kind of leader who feels stuck in old ways of doing things? What if you’d rather not be? Is it really possible to change your mindset—or the mindsets of your team?

Management experts are looking to neuroscience for the answer, and the answer appears to be a resounding “YES.” By probing the neural roots of behavior, brain science is helping leaders create change in themselves and in others and may indeed have great implications for the world of work. 

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MIT Sloan Executive Education partners with Haiti

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 7 days ago

Strong leadership and innovation are ideals and skills that should not be limited to the business world. In fact, one could make a strong argument that innovation is needed more in non-profit and government organizations than in corporations. Of course, we’d argue that innovation is needed everywhere. And, that nearly every kind of organization can benefit from it.

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Four must-have skills for today’s leaders

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 months and 8 days ago

Most of today's leadership literature focuses on the two most popular forms of leadership: the visionary leader—the charismatic transformational leader who inspires, or the relationship leader—the mentor who has the compassion and empathy needed to form strong relationships to support their organization. But the global business world is changing rapidly, from the top down and the bottom up.  Organizations are flatter. Boundaries are more blurred. Information moves faster across all levels within an organization. This means that leaders who can innovate and move quickly—leaders who have dynamic capabilities—are more likely to succeed. Deborah Ancona, Professor of Organization Studies at MIT Sloan, has spent the last year researching the competitive advantage of dynamic capability leaders. Says Ancona, “The greatest strength of a dynamic capability leader is their ability to filter through all the fast moving information that flows within and outside of the organization, recognize opportunities, and capitalize on them.”

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How to combat team failure and drive innovation using the X team

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 2 months and 13 days ago

Critical studies show that the real work of successful innovation starts and ends with the team, and that the way we build and manage teams is what is truly responsible for the success or failure of “the next big thing” in innovation. Most teams fail due to a perfect storm of several factors such as lack of effective communication, inefficiency, lack of clearly defined roles and goals, and poor leadership. But even successful teams struggle against these obstacles on a daily basis and still there are others that perform way above and beyond expectations. What do successful teams do differently?

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