MIT Leadership Center

Our Legacy of Leadership

Monica Lee, EMBA '19, iLead speaker, April 2021 | Chief of Staff, NASA Johnson Space Center
Stop waiting for the moment of perfection. Now is your time.
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Leadership Speaker Series at MIT

The Innovative Leadership (iLead) Series at MIT celebrates innovative individuals who make a difference in the world. These leaders operate at the leading edge and transform today’s organizations and communities by challenging common assumptions, and creating new structures, new business models, and new modes of organizing at all levels of the traditional structure.

View recordings of past speakers here

Key Moments in Leadership at MIT

  • 1914

    MIT launches Course XV, Engineering Administration, which is an undergraduate program. At this time, the concept of providing business training in the academic environment gains popularity.

  • 1938

    The rigorous Sloan Fellowship Program for Executive Development at MIT – funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation – is born. This program gives young business executives the option to take a leave from their careers to study management at MIT for one year.

  • 1956

    Edgar Schein (1928 – 2023) joins the MIT faculty. Schein makes a notable mark on the field of organizational development in many areas, including career development, group process consultation, and organizational culture. He coins the term “corporate culture.”

  • 1956

    Jay W. Forrester (1918 – 2016), SM ’45, accepts a professorship at what is now known as MIT’s School of Industrial Management. Forrester’s insights into the common foundations that underlie engineering lead to the creation of the field of system dynamics.

  • 1960

    Professor Douglas McGregor’s (1906 – 1964) classic management book, “The Human Side of Enterprise,” identifies an approach of creating an environment within which employees are motivated via authoritative, direction and control or integration and self-control, which he dubs Theory X and Theory Y.

  • 1964

    The School of Industrial Management is renamed the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management.

  • 1985

    Schein publishes the first edition of “Organizational Culture and Leadership,” regarded as one of the most influential management books of all time.

  • 2005

    MIT Sloan Professor Deborah Ancona launches the MIT Leadership Center. At the time, Ancona says, "For us at MIT, leadership is about changing and shaping what's going on around us. We want to have a center where academic, business, government and nonprofit leaders can work together to tackle some of the complex issues in the world today,” according to an MIT Sloan release on the center’s opening.

  • 2007

    Ancona, along with Henrik Bresman, publishes the essential leadership book, “X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed.”

  • 2014

    Hal Gregersen becomes executive director of the Leadership Center and serves in that role until 2019. Gregersen's award-winning book, “Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life,” is published in 2018.

  • 2023

    Abby Berenson is appointed director of the Leadership Center.