Alyson Meister

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Alyson Meister helps organizations to develop inclusive and resilient leaders, teams, and workplaces. Her research specialty includes topics surrounding identity and diversity as well as workplace stress, mental health, and wellbeing. Meister was named on the Thinkers50 Radar list in 2021 and subsequently nominated for a Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Award.

Her inclusion on the Thinkers50 Radar list was in recognition of her research on how people can navigate, manage, and overcome bias throughout their careers, and how feeling marginalized, stereotyped, or mislabeled impacts stress, wellbeing, and job performance. Diversity and inclusion are an important strand of her work with leaders, who Meister says need to examine how their identity and core values shape not only their own self-perceptions, beliefs, and behavior, but also how they perceive, label, and interact with others.

Given the massive changes over the last few years to how, where and when we work, it is critical that leaders learn to manage themselves, to more inclusively manage others and cultivate thriving workforces in their organizations.

Her shortlisting for the 2021 Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Award was closely linked to her research on leader origin stories. This work explored the personal stories of 92 leaders to shed light on how the stories people hold onto and tell others shape their leadership motivations and behaviors, and how this differs for men and women.

Her practitioner articles regularly appear in Harvard Business Review and I by IMD, and her research has been published in influential management journals such as the Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies and Leadership Quarterly.

Meister leads IMD’s Future Leaders program and has coached thousands of executives, teams and organizations across a broad range of industries, from mining and engineering through to professional services and technology, working with clients such as Lenovo, Maersk, Julius Baer, Sandvik, CMS, BHP Billiton, LEGO Group, Hilti and Cisco.

She was recently appointed as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council for One Mind at Work, an organization that focuses on advancing mental health in the workplace, and serves on the executive committee of the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division of the Academy of Management and on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Review.

Canadian-born Meister has lived and worked on five continents – North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia – and describes herself as a “global nomad”. Having had a wealth of practical experience before entering academia, she joined IMD as a professor in 2019 after previously working as Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Selected publications
Article
The science of choking under pressure
Choking under pressure, where one freezes and underperforms when it matters most — even despite deep expertise and years of practice — is well known in the world of sports. But we hear less about t...
Published 7 April 2022
Article
Athletes are shifting the narrative around mental health at work
Recent instances of high-profile athletes prioritizing their mental health, along with organized efforts from the sports industry, have triggered an important shift in the narrative of mental healt...
Published 24 September 2021
Article
Staying mindful when you’re working remotely
Remote work is taking its toll in the form of chronic stress and burnout. Cultivating mindfulness in our online environment is a way to combat this depletion of energy. The authors recommend applyi...
Published 16 March 2021
Article
Is your organization digging trenches or building bridges?
Entrenchment happens when an attitude, habit, or belief becomes so firmly established that it morphs from “what I believe” into “who I am,” and it can lead to polarization within teams and organiza...
Published 22 January 2021
Article
Now you see me, now you don't: A conceptual model of the antecedents and consequences of leader impostorism
Impostorism, a phenomenon whereby a person perceives that the role they occupy is beyond their capabilities and puts them at risk of exposure as a “fake,” has attracted plentiful attention in the e...
Published 1 September 2022
Article
What's your leadership origin story?
Origin stories come in many forms: tales of how we entered a profession, personal chronicles explaining how and when we became part of an organization, accounts of how we met our significant other,...
Published 10 August 2020
Article
The stories that make us: Leaders’ origin stories and temporal identity work
The stories we tell about our origins can shape how we think and act – helping us make sense of and communicate who we have “become” over time. To better understand the role that origin stories pla...
Published 1 August 2021
Article
Toward a temporal theory of faultlines and subgroup entrenchment
A wealth of scholarship shows that faultlines drive important outcomes for groups. However, despite mounting calls for incorporating time in the group literature, our understanding of faultlines is...
Published 1 December 2020
Article
Identities under scrutiny: How women leaders navigate feeling misidentified at work
The identities of women leaders can fall under intense scrutiny; they are often confronted with other's perceptions of them—perceptions that may not be wholly accurate. Through in-depth qualitativ...
Published 30 January 2017
Article
Feeling misidentified: The consequences of internal identity asymmetries for individuals at work
At work, individuals have an enduring interest in how others perceive them and a fundamental desire for others to affirm and verify their salient work-related identities. Internal identity asymmetr...
Published 8 October 2014
Academic publications
Article
Thinking of you thinking of me: An integrative review of meta-perception in the workplace
Decades of research demonstrates a fundamental human tendency to care about how one is seen by others, and for good reason; the perceptions and appraisals of others affect a wealth of important out...
Published 1 February 2022
Article
Now you see me, now you don't: A conceptual model of the antecedents and consequences of leader impostorism
Impostorism, a phenomenon whereby a person perceives that the role they occupy is beyond their capabilities and puts them at risk of exposure as a “fake,” has attracted plentiful attention in the e...
Published 1 September 2022
Article
Microaggressions, interrupted: The experience and effects of gender microaggressions for women in STEM
Women continue to remain underrepresented in STEM, and this gender disparity is particularly pronounced in leadership positions. Through in-depth, qualitative interviews of 39 women leaders in STEM...
Published 5 August 2022
Article
Paradox versus dilemma mindset: A theory of how women leaders navigate the tensions between agency and communion
A wealth of literature documents that women leaders can face simultaneous and yet conflict demands for both agency and communion, due to the in-congruence of their leader role and gender role deman...
Published 26 April 2018
Article
Feeling misidentified: The consequences of internal identity asymmetries for individuals at work
At work, individuals have an enduring interest in how others perceive them and a fundamental desire for others to affirm and verify their salient work-related identities. Internal identity asymmetr...
Published 8 October 2014
Article
The stories that make us: Leaders’ origin stories and temporal identity work
The stories we tell about our origins can shape how we think and act – helping us make sense of and communicate who we have “become” over time. To better understand the role that origin stories pla...
Published 1 August 2021
Article
Toward a temporal theory of faultlines and subgroup entrenchment
A wealth of scholarship shows that faultlines drive important outcomes for groups. However, despite mounting calls for incorporating time in the group literature, our understanding of faultlines is...
Published 1 December 2020
Insight for Executives
Article
How future thinking can derail your company’s present
Everyone wants to be future-ready, especially in uncertain times. Inflation has hit its highest level since the early 1980s. Many technology stocks have plunged dramatically from the beginning of t...
Published 13 July 2022
Article
The science of choking under pressure
Choking under pressure, where one freezes and underperforms when it matters most — even despite deep expertise and years of practice — is well known in the world of sports. But we hear less about t...
Published 7 April 2022
Logstor’s rebirth: Leading through crisis
Case Study
Logstor’s rebirth: Leading through crisis
LOGSTOR is a Danish company that is a global supplier of pre-insulated pipe systems. This case focuses on the leadership of Kim Christensen, a former board member who became CEO in 2017. The compan...
Published 15 February 2022
Article
What to do about employees who consciously exclude women
Conscious “excluders,” who despite various corporate interventions, continue to treat some folks differently due to their social group membership, may help explain the recent stagnation in progress...
Published 8 November 2021
Article
Athletes are shifting the narrative around mental health at work
Recent instances of high-profile athletes prioritizing their mental health, along with organized efforts from the sports industry, have triggered an important shift in the narrative of mental healt...
Published 24 September 2021
How companies and talent can gain from a shared purpose
Article
How companies and talent can gain from a shared purpose
Organizations can improve performance and engagement by embracing a purpose that resonates with employees, according to Alyson Meister and David Bach.
Published 29 June 2021
Purpose: is the hype justified?
Video
Purpose: is the hype justified?
What is purpose and why does it matter? There’s a lot of noise out there about the purpose behind a business. Is “purpose” just a buzzword, or is it something more, something that you should be f...
Published 18 May 2021
Article
Staying mindful when you’re working remotely
Remote work is taking its toll in the form of chronic stress and burnout. Cultivating mindfulness in our online environment is a way to combat this depletion of energy. The authors recommend applyi...
Published 16 March 2021
Article
How managers can support employees with chronic illnesses
Chronic illness is extremely common, and the Covid-19 pandemic has helped normalize talking about it in the workplace. It can be hard to know what to say to an employee with a chronic illness — it’...
Published 8 February 2021
Article
Is your organization digging trenches or building bridges?
Entrenchment happens when an attitude, habit, or belief becomes so firmly established that it morphs from “what I believe” into “who I am,” and it can lead to polarization within teams and organiza...
Published 22 January 2021
Why hidden agendas are stopping you from sticking with your goals
Article
Why hidden agendas are stopping you from sticking with your goals
In January, many of us reflect on the year that’s passed, form new goals and think about what we want to change, achieve or overcome in the year ahead. Sadly though, as anyone who has ever made a N...
Published 10 January 2021
The seven steps to being a better ally that all leaders can take right now
Video
The seven steps to being a better ally that all leaders can take right now
'Become an agent of change by taking real interest, learning about the topic and being a role model,' says panel of EI&D experts.
Published 11 December 2020
Article
What's your leadership origin story?
Origin stories come in many forms: tales of how we entered a profession, personal chronicles explaining how and when we became part of an organization, accounts of how we met our significant other,...
Published 10 August 2020
Diversity & Inclusion: a case of targets, quotas or freewheeling?
Article
Diversity & Inclusion: a case of targets, quotas or freewheeling?
The data on job losses during the pandemic make Diversity & Inclusion targets more pressing than ever.
Published 26 May 2020
Mind the micro-inequity: Fostering inclusion in teams and organizations
Article
Mind the micro-inequity: Fostering inclusion in teams and organizations
Rooting out micro-inequities is key to creating an inclusive culture in teams or organizations. Here are three main ways to do it
Published 4 February 2020
Getting diversity & inclusion right
Article
Getting diversity & inclusion right
A good number of Fortune 500’s have been setting best practices and leading the way in the complicated field of Diversity and Inclusion, yet, others are still questioning the why’s and how’s of D&I...
Published 29 August 2019
Three questions to help you take charge of your ascent to leadership
Article
Three questions to help you take charge of your ascent to leadership
Rather than being taken by surprise at how you might be judged as a woman leader, it’s important to pre-empt barriers and actively develop strategies to deal with them. Here are three questions (wi...
Published 5 March 2019
Article
How women manage the gendered norms of leadership
A wealth of research shows that female leaders, much more than male leaders, face the need to be warm and nice, as well as competent or tough. The problem is that these qualities are often seen as ...
Published 28 November 2018
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