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 Founder 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) and the related article, “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” (Harvard Business Review).  In addition to X-Teams, her studies of team performance have also 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), 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 Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bose, Takeda, Li & Fung, OCP, Accenture, ASA and has served on the Board of the Penn Graduate School of Education and the working group of the Canadian Council of Academies.

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


Faculty Media

  • How Leaders Can Maximize Their Impact

    It is rather difficult – perhaps even impossible – for a single manager to wear all hats equally well. Effective leaders need to know whether their ‘people hat’ or ‘P&L hat’ fits most comfortably.

  • 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...

  • How to Cultivate Leadership That Is Honed to Solve Problems

    In this article, Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen discuss how to chieve breakthroughs by bringing together experts who love challenges.

  • 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.


Contact Information

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

Teaches In

Transforming Your Leadership Strategy Jun 11-12, 2019 | Oct 24-25, 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.