Deborah L. Ancona


Deborah L. Ancona

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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 MIT 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.  


Ancona wins Jamieson Prize

Ancona wins MIT's 2022 Seegal prize


X-Teams: How to Build Teams that Lead, Innovate, and Succeed (Second Edition).

Ancona, Deborah L., and Henrik Bresman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2023.

"Turn Your Teams Inside Out."

Ancona, Deborah L. and Henrik Bresman. MIT Sloan Management Review, December 13, 2022.

"Family Ghosts in the Executive Suite."

Ancona, Deborah, and Dennis N.T. Perkins. Harvard Business Review, January 2022.

"Shifting Team Research after COVID-19: Evolutionary and Revolutionary Change."

Ancona, Deborah L., Henrik Bresman, and Mark Mortensen. Journal of Management Studies Vol. 58, No. 1 (2021): 287-291.

"The Overlooked Key to Leading Through Chaos."

Ancona, Deborah L., Michele Williams, and Gisela Gerlach. MIT Sloan Management Review, September 8, 2020.

"Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World."

Ancona, Deborah. MIT Sloan Management Review, January 2020.

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Recent Insights

Ideas Made to Matter

A manager’s guide to x-teams

MIT Sloan’s Deborah Ancona explains how leaders can start, manage, and support externally oriented innovation within their organizations.

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Ideas Made to Matter

4 ideas for growth from MIT Sloan Management Review

Uncertainty will abound in 2023. Focus now on resilience, agility, examining external factors, and innovation in artificial intelligence.

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Media Highlights

Press Source: MIT Sloan Management Review (Opinion Piece)

Turn your teams inside out

"We have found that difficulties in adopting the x-team approach are typically caused by outmoded assumptions about teams at all levels."

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Executive Education

Executive Education Course

Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World

This online short course provides a step-by-step guide to the 4-CAPS+ Leadership Framework, developed by Faculty Director Deborah Ancona and her colleagues at MIT. The framework provides key insights into the skills required for effective leadership.

  • Oct 4-Nov 21, 2023
  • Apr 24-Jun 11, 2024
  • Jul 17-Sep 3, 2024
  • Oct 9-Nov 26, 2024
  • Feb 7-Mar 26, 2024
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Executive Education Course

Unlocking Your Leadership Signature

This unique program encourages introspection to help you identify and cultivate your personal leadership signature. It also demonstrates how to apply your leadership signature to your specific circumstances, regardless of where you are along your professional development path.

  • Sep 12-Oct 31, 2023
  • Nov 16, 2023-Jan 11, 2024
  • Mar 14-May 2, 2024
  • May 23-Jul 11, 2024
  • Sep 26-Nov 14, 2024
  • Dec 5, 2024-Jan 23, 2025
  • May 22-Jul 10, 2025
  • Feb 27-Apr 17, 2025
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