Deborah Ancona

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


Deborah Ancona

Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management, a Professor of Organization Studies, and the Director of the MIT Leadership Center at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Her pioneering research into how successful teams operate has highlighted the critical importance of managing outside, as well as inside, the team’s boundary.  This research directly led to the concept of X-Teams as a vehicle for driving innovation within large organizations.  Ancona’s work also focuses on the concept of distributed leadership and on the development of research-based tools, practices, and teaching/coaching models that enable organizations to foster creative leadership at every level. 

She is the author of the book, X-Teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate, and Succeed (Harvard Business School Press, June 2007) and the related article, “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” (Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2007).  In addition to X-Teams, her studies of team performance also have been published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, and the Sloan Management Review.  Her previous book, Managing for the Future: Organizational Behavior and Processes (South-Western College Publishing, 1999, 2005), centers on the skills and processes needed in today’s diverse and changing organization.  Ancona has served as a consultant on leadership and innovation to 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

  • Deborah Ancona & Hal Gregersen: What does it mean to be a leader?

    We need a new way of thinking about leadership and a new approach to leading, say MIT Sloan's Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen. They suggest what is called, "challenge-driven leadership." We...

  • The Pros and Cons Of New Unconventional Leadership Styles

    Company culture is changing, and some managers are experimenting with out-of-the-norm methods. Here's what works and what doesn't.

  • Do Good Leaders Make Good Managers?

    Prof. Deborah Ancona of MIT Sloan elaborates on the 4-Cap Leadership Model.

  • Why Are There So Many Bad Bosses?

    Have you ever noticed this about the way most American companies select people to manage others? It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

  • What to Do When You Squabble with Your Boss

    4 steps to fix a bad relationship with the person signing the paycheck.

  • What Kind Of Leadership Is Needed In Flat Hierarchies?

    According to Deborah Ancona, a professor of management and organizational studies at MIT, companies in America circa 1920s were "super bureaucracies." Today’s workplace centers on what’s called...

  • What It Takes To Change Your Brain's Patterns After Age 25

    Most of our brain's patterns are solidified by our mid-20s, but it's possible to change your brain's pathways and patterns with these methods.

  • MIT Sloan: Professor on 'The 4 Capabilities of Leadership'

    Professor Deborah Ancona explains why sense-making, relating, visioning and inventing are vital to leadership and how these can be put into practice.

  • MIT Sloan, Part 1: Leading in Uncertain Times

    Deborah Ancona, Faculty Director of the Leadership Center, delivers a three-part video lecture on how successful teams operate. In this Part One, Professor Ancona explains why sense-making,...

  • MIT Sloan, Part 2: The Four Capabilities of Leadership

    Deborah Ancona, Faculty Director of the Leadership Center, delivers a three-part video lecture on how successful teams operate. In this part two, she describes the key attributes of a successful...


Contact Information

Office: E62-434
Phone: 617-253-0568
Fax: 617-253-2660
Support Staff
Name: Chris Jenkins
Phone: (617) 324-7368

Teaches In

Transforming Your Leadership Strategy Oct 1-2, 2018 | Jun 11-12, 2019 | Oct 24-25, 2019

Neuroscience for Leadership Oct 18-19, 2018 | Mar 28-29, 2019 | Oct 3-4, 2019

Leading in a World of Uncertainty

In this webinar, Deborah Ancona introduces MIT's unique leadership perspective—a powerful, innovative approach to executive leadership that will help you make your organization more knowledge-driven and more innovative.

Professor Deborah Ancona on Transforming Your Leadership Strategy

How to Cultivate Leadership That Is Honed to Solve Problems

MIT Sloan's Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen explain how to achieve breakthroughs by bringing together experts who love challenges.