Deborah Ancona

Seley Distinguished Professor of Management
Professor of Organization Studies
Faculty Director, MIT Leadership Center


Deborah Ancona's pioneering research explores how successful teams operate and the critical importance of managing both outside and inside the team's boundary. This research led directly to the concept of X-teams as a vehicle for driving innovation within large organizations and to the publication of her book, X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate, and Succeed (Harvard Business School Press, June 2007).

Ancona's work also focuses on the concept of distributed leadership and the development of research-based tools, practices, and teaching/coaching models that enable organizations to foster creative leadership at every level. This work was highlighted in the Harvard Business Review article, "In Praise of the Incomplete Leader" (February 2007).

Her studies of team performance have been published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, and the Sloan Management Review. Ancona's book, Managing for the Future: Organizational Behavior and Processes (South-Western College Publishing, 1996, 1999, 2005), centers on the skills and processes needed to succeed in today's diverse and changing organization. She has served as a consultant on leadership and innovation to premier companies, such as AT&T, BP, Credit Suisse First Boston, Hewlett-Packard, Merrill Lynch, News Corporation, and Vale.

Ancona holds a BA and an MS in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in management from Columbia University.

Faculty Media

  • The Comparative Advantage of X-Teams

    Often teams that seem to be doing everything right establishing clear roles and responsibilities, building trust among members, defining goals nevertheless see their projects fail or get axed. We...

  • Four must-have skills for todays leaders

    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...

  • How to Combat Team Failure and Drive Innovation Using the X Team

    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...

  • How to Reward Your Stellar Team

    A few decades ago, companies were struggling with how to measure and reward individual performance. But in their quest do so, many overreached, says Michael Mankins, a partner at Bain & Company and...

  • MIT On The Two Most Underrated Leadership Skills

    Leadership is changing. A big part is the impact of the Millennials. They are less apt to respond to command & control and respond much more positively to a different kind of leadership. Even a...

  • The two most underrated leadership skills

    Video interview with Deborah Ancona. Making sense of the environment in which a company is operating and creating structures and processes to move the organization ahead are key to leading

  • The CEO isn't the only leader any more

    KARL MOORE This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University with Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am delighted to MITs Deborah Ancona. Good morning,...

  • The Elements of Good Leadership

    What does it take to be an effective leader in todays unpredictable and uncertain business environments? Earlier this month, I attended an MIT Sloan executive education course called...

  • Transcript: Business leaders and sense making

    Today I am delighted to be speaking with Deborah Ancona who is a professor at the Sloan School, MIT. KM: For years now I have seen companies have a set of leadership capabilities that they are...

  • Occupy Wall Street: Where are the leaders?

    The President of the United States, major news media, bloggers, bankers, stand-up comics, and people all around the world are shaking their heads and wondering what the Occupy Wall Street (OWS)...


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