Daena Giardella

Senior Lecturer, MIT Leadership Center


Daena Giardella

Daena Giardella is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT Leadership Center at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

She has been a leadership consultant and executive coach as well as a media, communication, and presentation coach for over twenty-five years. At MIT Sloan she teaches the course Improvisational Leadership as well as workshops for the Sloan Innovation Period (SIP) and the Sloan Fellows program. She has taught seminars for the MIT Sloan International Programs Latin America Office in Chile and Argentina at numerous business and academic settings, including Catolica University in Santiago and Di Tella University in Buenos Aires as well as at the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile. Daena has been a visiting faculty member for six years at The Lisbon MBA program in Portugal, in partnership with the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs. She has also taught Negotiation Improvisation for members of the European Commission in Brussels in collaboration with the Paris ESSEC Business School and Harvard Law School faculty. She is a regular consultant for Harvard Law School’s Negotiation program and she taught a Skills Practicum for the Entrepreneurial Teacher at Babson College’s Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators.

Daena has enjoyed dual careers in business organizational development and in the performing arts. She combines these backgrounds to design innovative educational programs for numerous world-class companies, organizations, and academic institutions in the USA and abroad. Her programs incorporate her Improvisation and Influence Model ©, which cultivates dynamic leadership, adaptability, presence, and collaborative communication skills. Her consulting clients include organizations, executives, and managers in the financial services, telecommunications, energy, hospitality, retail, fashion, real estate, manufacturing, entertainment, engineering, legal services, and health care industries.

Daena is also an actor, director, and member of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Radio and Television Artists). Her numerous original one-woman theater performances have received kudos in the USA and internationally. The Boston Globe has called her an "impressive talent" and the Tel Aviv Ha’eer wrote, "Giardella is a phenomenon...a classic actress."

Daena was formerly a faculty member at Emerson College and Boston Conservatory. She collaborated with David Kantor for eleven years in the creation of TheraVision, a role-play/video based training program for psychotherapists at the Kantor Family Institute. She was the director and teacher of a theater program for at-risk students at Roxbury High School under a grant from Harvard University and she has led diversity and anti-bullying workshops in many educational settings, including the New Mexico Human Rights Foundation.

She is co-author of the book, Changing Patterns: Discovering the Fabric of Your Creativity and she recorded the spoken word CD, Improvisation in Everyday Life.

Faculty Media

  • [Innovation@Work Blog] Workplace Negativity? Difficult Conversations? Turn to Improv

    At first blush, improv may not seem like an obvious leadership tool. Business often works best when knowledgeable leaders follow a script for getting feedback and fostering buy-in, notes MIT...

  • How Should Companies Operate in the Age of Trump?

    In the era of President Trump, business leaders and CEOs need to shift their sensemaking skills into high gear.

  • The Secret to Repairing a Broken Conversation

    "We’ve all been there. In the midst of a productive conversation with a colleague, something unexpected happens. It might be an awkward phrase or an unintended tone of voice, or maybe someone...

  • Secrets of Celebrity Companies—Daena Giardella

    Recent news stories have highlighted both the stratospheric success of some celebrity companies and also a set of well-documented problems with some celebrity companies.

  • From Failure to Success: Using Improvisation to Develop Leadership

    When we fear making a mistake or looking foolish, we are reluctant to take risks or to try new things. Since failure is inevitable in all human endeavors, it is important for future business...

  • Using Comedy Tools to Drive Creative Ideas and Serious Results

    “These abilities happen to be the fundamental skills of improvisation and many companies are gravitating towards improv training because it offers a hands-on ‘active learning’ experience that...

  • MBA Students Learn That All the Business World’s a Stage

    Schools are drawing lessons from the theatre to teach leadership and communication skills.

  • Using Improvisation to Develop Leadership

    MIT Sloan Lecturer Daena Giardella explains how improvisation can diminish fear and help people succeed.


Contact Information

Office: E62-417
Phone: (617) 715-4842
Email: daenag@mit.edu
Website: http://www.daenagiardella.com
Support Staff
Name: Ryan Harrington
Phone: (617) 715-5675