Deborah L. Ancona


Deborah L. 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 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


"How to Cultivate Leadership that is Honed to Solve Problems."

Ancona, Deborah, and Hal Gregersen. strategy + business, April 2018.

"Two Roads to Green: A Tale of Bureaucratic Versus Distributed Leadership Models of Change."

Ancona, Deborah L., Elaine Backman and Kate Isaacs. In Leading Sustainable Change, 225-249. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015.

"Teamwork from the Inside Out."

Ancona, Deborah L., David F. Caldwell and Henrik Bresman. In Contemporary Organizational Behavior in Action, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2015.

"Sensemaking: Framing and Acting in the Unknown."

Ancona, Deborah L. In Handbook of Leadership Education, 3-20. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2011.

"Building an External Focus: Avoiding the Difficulties of an In-Grown Team."

Ancona, Deborah L. and David F. Caldwell. In Handbook For Working With Difficult Groups, edited by Sandy Schuman , 17-32. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.

"Leadership Capabilities: Exercise Them to Develop a Signature Style."

Ancona, Deborah L., Thomas W. Malone, Wanda J. Orlikowski and Peter M. Senge. Leadership Excellence, February 2010.

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