Play Video



While serving as executive director of the MIT Leadership Center from 2014-2019, we focused on building challenge-driven leaders at every level of an organization. In “How to Cultivate Leadership that is Honed to Solve Problems” (Strategy+Business, 2017) and “The Power of Leaders Who Focus on Solving Problems” Deborah Ancona and I synthesized findings from in-depth interviews, assessments of institutional artifacts and data from companies that employ MIT alumni. We took a deep dive into the patterns that emerged and defined the highly effective style as Challenge-Driven or Problem-Led Leadership. This approach can help people solve big, complex problems in a changing world and is critical in highly innovative and creative environments.

  • They choose challenge over trappings.
  • They let problems lead.
  • They choose collaboration.
  • They step up and step out.
  • They work the problem tirelessly.
  • They do what the data say.


We created the MIT Leadership Center Video Series to uncover and share the stories of challenge-driven leaders who solved some of the world’s most challenging problems. As executive director, I regularly sat down with established and emerging leaders to discuss their leadership challenges and philosophies. Here are a few of my favorite conversations.

Play Video


Founder and CEO McChrystal Group and author “Leaders: Myth and Reality” and “Team of Teams”

The Introverted Leader

Play Video

deval patrick

Managing Director, Bain Capital and former governor of Massachusetts

Asking the Right Questions Across Politics and Business

Play Video


Cofounder and CEO Cybereason

How Failure Inspired One Entrepreneur to Ask Better Questions

Play Video


Cofounder & Former Chief Executive of Infosys

The Danger of a “Good News Cocoon”

Play Video

Titania Veda

Social Impact Storyteller and Experience Designer

Seeing the Big Picture

Play Video

Kailash Swarna

Global Head of R&D Digitalization Strategy, Novo Nordsk

Building Empathy Into Your Business


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Orci dapibus ultrices in iaculis nunc sed augue. In est ante in nibh mauris cursus. Libero enim sed faucibus turpis in eu mi. Tellus in hac habitasse platea dictumst vestibulum rhoncus. Ultricies integer quis auctor elit. Quam id leo in vitae turpis massa sed elementum tempus. Faucibus turpis in eu mi.