Zhike Lei
Zhike Lei
Zhike Lei

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Zhike Lei is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior. She is an award-winning organizational scholar and an expert on psychological safety, team dynamics, organizational learning, error management, and patient safety.

Lei studies how organizations, teams, and employees adapt and learn in complex, time-pressured, consequence-laden environments. As a global management educator, she has taught executives and PhD, DBA, EMBA, and MBA candidates, as well as undergraduates, and has won numerous teaching awards and recognitions.

“Engaging with power for a good purpose still makes us vulnerable to failure or becoming blissfully unaware. Leaders can overcome these challenges by relentlessly cultivating a healthy work culture, where courage, psychological safety, and compassion are both emphasized and expected.”

She has delivered custom programs and consultancy services for a wide range of organizations in different continents, including Allianz, Bosch, Cathay Pacific, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dubai Falcon, Karma Automotive, Nielsen, Siemens, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China.

Her scholarly work on team adaptation, psychological safety, error management, and crisis management has been published in premier academic outlets, including the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Health Affairs, Academic Medicine, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Academy of Management Discoveries, and Harvard Business Review. Her management insights have also been featured in general business journals and magazines, such as Harvard Business Manager, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Chief Executive.

Lei’s research on team adaptation and team reflectivity, in collaboration with hospital surgical teams, aviation pilots, and manufacturing engineers, has been recognized by best paper awards from leading academic journals.

She has also won prestigious awards and grants to study patient safety, error management, and team processes, including from the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Peter Curtius Foundation, and the Juran Center for Leadership in Quality.

She has served on the editorial review board for premier management journals including the Academy of Management Review and Academy of Management Discoveries (AMD) and was a guest editor of the AMD special issue on errors in organizations.

Before joining IMD in 2023, Lei served as Professor of Applied Behavior Science at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School in California, where she was also the research director overseeing faculty research and chair of the management department. She was previously a professor at the European School of Management and Technology and George Mason University. She worked as a marketing specialist for leading advertising and marketing firms such as Dentsu and Nielsen in China before embarking on her academic career.

Selected publications
Article
Reflection on the fly: Development of the Team Reflection Behavioral Observation (TuRBO) System for acute care teams
Purpose Acute care teams work in dynamic and complex environments and must adapt to changing circumstances. A team process that helps teams process information and adapt is in-action team reflectio...
Published 1 September 2021
Article
Errors in organizations: New frontiers in research and practice
Although we acknowledge that "to err is human," we rarely embrace errors. For example, by one estimate there are 250,000 "preventable" deaths per year from medical errors in American hospitals. The...
Published 14 December 2021
Article
What aircraft crews know about managing high-pressure situations
Crew Resource Management (CRM), first developed in 1980, is now used in civil and military aviation training worldwide. To ensure a safe flight operation, CRM requires two conditions and open commu...
Published 9 December 2019
Article
Reflection in the heat of the moment: The role of in-action team reflexivity in health care emergency teams
Team reflexivity (TR)–defined as a team's conscious reflection on their objectives, strategies, and processes—is an important team process that fosters adaptation and information processing. Howeve...
Published 1 July 2018
Article
Team adaptiveness in dynamic contexts: Contextualizing the roles of interaction patterns and in-process planning
Previous research asserts that teams working in routine situations pass through performance episodes characterized by action and transition phases, while other evidence suggests that certain team b...
Published 1 August 2016
Article
Errors in organizations: An integrative review via level of analysis, temporal dynamism, and priority lenses
Errors are a recurring fact of organizational life and can potentially yield either adverse or positive consequences. Organizational researchers and practitioners alike have become increasingly int...
Published 5 July 2016
Article
Psychological safety: The history, renaissance, and future of an interpersonal construct
Psychological safety describes people's perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace. First explored by pioneering organizational schola...
Published 1 March 2014
Article
Seeking help in the shadow of doubt: The sensemaking processes underlying how nurses decide whom to ask for advice
Although scholars often assume that individuals seek out experts when they need help, recent research suggests that seeking help from experts can be costly. The authors propose that perceiving pote...
Published 1 September 2009
Academic publications
Article
Reflection in the heat of the moment: The role of in-action team reflexivity in health care emergency teams
Team reflexivity (TR)–defined as a team's conscious reflection on their objectives, strategies, and processes—is an important team process that fosters adaptation and information processing. Howeve...
Published 1 July 2018
Article
Errors in organizations: An integrative review via level of analysis, temporal dynamism, and priority lenses
Errors are a recurring fact of organizational life and can potentially yield either adverse or positive consequences. Organizational researchers and practitioners alike have become increasingly int...
Published 5 July 2016
Article
Team adaptiveness in dynamic contexts: Contextualizing the roles of interaction patterns and in-process planning
Previous research asserts that teams working in routine situations pass through performance episodes characterized by action and transition phases, while other evidence suggests that certain team b...
Published 1 August 2016
Article
Psychological safety: The history, renaissance, and future of an interpersonal construct
Psychological safety describes people's perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace. First explored by pioneering organizational schola...
Published 1 March 2014
Article
Errors in organizations: New frontiers in research and practice
Although we acknowledge that "to err is human," we rarely embrace errors. For example, by one estimate there are 250,000 "preventable" deaths per year from medical errors in American hospitals. The...
Published 14 December 2021
Article
Reflection on the fly: Development of the Team Reflection Behavioral Observation (TuRBO) System for acute care teams
Purpose Acute care teams work in dynamic and complex environments and must adapt to changing circumstances. A team process that helps teams process information and adapt is in-action team reflectio...
Published 1 September 2021
Article
Seeking help in the shadow of doubt: The sensemaking processes underlying how nurses decide whom to ask for advice
Although scholars often assume that individuals seek out experts when they need help, recent research suggests that seeking help from experts can be costly. The authors propose that perceiving pote...
Published 1 September 2009
Insight for Executives
Article
What aircraft crews know about managing high-pressure situations
Crew Resource Management (CRM), first developed in 1980, is now used in civil and military aviation training worldwide. To ensure a safe flight operation, CRM requires two conditions and open commu...
Published 9 December 2019