CHALLENGE-DRIVEN RESEARCH

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WHAT IS CHALLENGE-DRIVEN LEADERSHIP?

MITLeadershipCenter

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.

CHALLENGE-DRIVEN PEOPLE

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.

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STAN McCHRYSTAL

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

The Introverted Leader

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deval patrick

Managing Director, Bain Capital and former governor of Massachusetts

Asking the Right Questions Across Politics and Business

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LIOR DIV

Cofounder and CEO Cybereason

How Failure Inspired One Entrepreneur to Ask Better Questions

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NANDAN NILEKANI

Cofounder & Former Chief Executive of Infosys

The Danger of a “Good News Cocoon”

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Titania Veda

Social Impact Storyteller and Experience Designer

Seeing the Big Picture

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Kailash Swarna

Global Head of R&D Digitalization Strategy, Novo Nordsk

Building Empathy Into Your Business

CHALLENGE-DRIVEN PRACTICE

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