Jean-François Manzoni

President and Nestlé Chaired Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development

Jean-François Manzoni is President of IMD and Nestlé Chaired Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development. His research, teaching, and consulting activities are focused on leadership, the development of high-performance organizations, and corporate governance. In recent years he has been concentrating increasingly on ways to ensure leadership programs have lasting impact, particularly through the use of technology-mediated approaches.

At an organizational level, Manzoni studies the content of change (including the use of levers such as strategy, structure, and systems), the management of the change process, and the role of leaders therein. His work in this area has appeared in several books, articles, and over 30 cases – four of which received Case of the Year awards from The Case Centre (formerly the European Foundation for Management Development or the European Case Clearing House). He also acted as content expert in the development of the Change Pro Simulation®, a groundbreaking computer-based change management simulation.

Thankfully, a growing number of leaders understand that the question is no longer whether they should, but rather how they can ensure their organization’s financial success also contributes to a more sustainable and inclusive world. Our mission at IMD is to help them to make it happen.

At an individual level, he studies how leaders can create a caring, high-performance work environment. This stream of research has led to several articles and a book entitled The Set-Up to Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail (with Jean-Louis Barsoux). The book, which builds on Manzoni’s and Barsoux’s initial Harvard Business Review article introducing the term “set-up-to-fail syndrome”, received two Book of the Year awards, and is discussed in undergraduate, MBA, and executive development programs all over the world.

On the corporate governance side, Manzoni focuses on interpersonal dynamics within the boardroom and between management and the board. His research examining the impact of interpersonal dynamics on increasingly diverse boards of directors received the Research Award on Leadership and Corporate Governance from the Association of Executive Search Consultants.

A Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors, he currently serves on the board of Keppel Corporation, an international diversified group listed on the Singapore stock exchange (where he also chairs the nominations committee and is a member of the remuneration committee). He previously served on the Boards of AACSB International (the world’s largest business education alliance) and Singapore’s Civil Service College, among others.

Alongside these lifelong interests, Manzoni has also been increasingly interested in closing the growing managerial “knowing-doing gap”, i.e., the gap between what managers kind of know they should be doing and the extent to which they actually behave that way in practice. One aspect of this quest, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, has been exploring the role that technology can play in helping to design and deliver interventions that a) produce significant and lasting individual impact, and b) can be scaled effectively and efficiently to large numbers of individuals in order to build a real capability within the organization.

The recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching, Manzoni is Co-director of IMD’s signature program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and teaches on the High Performance Leadership (HPL) open program and Executive MBA (EMBA) course.

He re-joined IMD in 2016, having already served on the IMD faculty between 2004 and 2010 when he was Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development and Director of the their Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives (BPSE).

He previously served on the faculty of INSEAD in Singapore and Fontainebleau where he founded, and for four years directed, the PwC Research Initiative on High Performance Organizations. He later directed their Global Leadership Centre, supporting their leadership-related coaching, teaching, and research activities throughout the world.

A citizen of Canada and France, Manzoni received his doctorate from Harvard Business School. He had earlier graduated from L’École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal and worked with Ernst and Young in Montreal before receiving an MBA from McGill University.

Manzoni is a frequent keynote speaker and discussion partner for business leaders, including through the IMD CEO Dialogue Series in which he holds frank and insightful discussions with CEOs of various organizations. He has also performed consulting, top management team support, and leadership development work for several international organizations, which has led him to work in more than 30 countries over the years.

He currently serves on a number of International Advisory Panels of industry bodies (e.g., digitalswitzerland), academic institutions (e.g., EHL Hospitality Business School) and corporations (e.g., Novartis Culture Leadership Advisory Board).

Selected publications
Book Chapter
Executive education post-pandemic : Some reflections on the role of technology-mediated interactions going forward
Attempting to predict the future is a perilous exercise. In fact, it is probably a sure recipe to look like a fool more often than not. Nonetheless, you will find in this chapter IMD’s perspective ...
Published 30 November 2021
Article
Society needs to have the right conversations about the COVID-19 crisis
COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented global challenge, which governments and societies have met with differing degrees of success. But with the epidemic now entering a second phase, the time has...
Published 2 July 2020
Article
The Board-Management relationship: How to achieve control and support
The world expects Boards to challenge management and ensure they optimise company performance. Management, on the other hand, also expects the board to provide help and support. Both dimensions (ch...
Published 1 April 2017
Article
To get more feedback, act more coachable
It’s hard to say who dreads critical feedback more: the manager giving it or the person receiving it. As the receiver, it can be uncomfortable and stressful to hear that you’re not performing well....
Published 22 September 2016
Article
Widening the lens: The challenges of leveraging boardroom diversity
Having spent the past five years working with the boards of some of the world's leading organizations, the authors reached a conclusion: boards need to become much more diverse -- not just demograp...
Published 1 May 2011
Article
The set-up-to-fail syndrome: How bosses create their own poor performers
France's recent successes make it more important than ever to understand what makes its managers tick. This year, France surpassed Japan and the U.K. in acquisitions of U.S. companies. And many Fre...
Published 1 January 1998
Academic publications
Article
Are your subordinates setting you up to fail?
Subordinates sometimes make it extremely difficult for their bosses to be good leaders. Executives who fail to understand the forces at play may find their careers in jeopardy. While bosses certain...
Published 1 August 2009
Article
The interpersonal side of taking charge
Transitions are fraught with traps, the biggest of which are interpersonal. Entering a new job, executives underestimate the powerful urge to label the people with whom they interact - upward, down...
Published 1 June 2009
Insight for Executives
Jean-Pascal Tricoire
Article
Jean-Pascal Tricoire
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO and chairman of Schneider Electric, discusses how decentralization drives his corporate thinking
Published 18 November 2022
Power to the people: Energy’s decentralized future
Article
Power to the people: Energy’s decentralized future
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO and chairman of Schneider Electric, tells IMD President Jean-François Manzoni how decentralization drives his corporate thinking.
Published 15 November 2022
David Loew
Article
David Loew
In conversation with IMD President Jean-François Manzoni, Ipsen CEO David Loew discusses his leadership style at the French-born pharma firm
Published 20 October 2022
Single accountability, purpose and self-care: Leading Ipsen beyond the patent cliff
Article
Single accountability, purpose and self-care: Leading Ipsen beyond the patent cliff
In a CEO Dialogue with IMD President Jean-François Manzoni, Ipsen CEO David Loew discusses his leadership style as he orchestrates the French-born pharma firm’s response to its best-selling drug f...
Published 18 October 2022
Jan Jenisch
Article
Jan Jenisch
Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim, discusses with IMD President Jean-François Manzoni the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with all stakeholders
Published 26 September 2022
Become a Buddha to drive sustainable transformation
Article
Become a Buddha to drive sustainable transformation
Jan Jenisch, Chief Executive of Holcim, one of the world’s largest building solutions companies, shares in an exclusive CEO Dialogue with IMD President Jean-François Manzoni how he is leading the s...
Published 20 September 2022
Håkan Agnevall
Article
Håkan Agnevall
Håkan Agnevall, President and CEO of Wärtsilä, discusses the transformation facing the maritime and energy industries today.
Published 25 August 2022
Maritime and energy sectors will transform through green fuels and balancing power
Article
Maritime and energy sectors will transform through green fuels and balancing power
As the shipping and energy industries face the biggest regulatory and market transition in 30 years, Wärtsilä’s CEO calls on leaders to accelerate decarbonization in an exclusive IMD CEO Dialogue.
Published 23 August 2022
Jessica Tan
Article
Jessica Tan
Ping An Co-CEO Jessica Tan tells IMD President Jean-François Manzoni how a Chinese insurance company was transformed into a tech giant
Published 13 July 2022
Julie Sweet
Article
Julie Sweet
Accenture CEO Julie Sweet discusses the importance of learning new skills and finding new ways to engage with customers through technology.
Published 16 June 2022
Julie Sweet: why it pays to never stop learning
Article
Julie Sweet: why it pays to never stop learning
Julie Sweet has made huge strides since taking over global operations at Accenture. She speaks to Jean-François Manzoni about why the company was so successful during the COVID-19 crisis and the im...
Published 14 June 2022
Article
Takeshi Niinami
Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami discusses company values, multi-billion dollar acquisitions, and the importance of the Founder's spirit
Published 27 January 2022
Article
Suntory’s growth from Beam integration offers lessons in collaboration and adherence to core values
A decade ago, spirits maker Suntory was primarily a Japanese business. Now, it’s well on the way to being a global one, Takeshi Niinami, the first outsider to lead the family-run business.
Published 25 January 2022
Pascal Soriot
Article
Pascal Soriot
In this revealing conversation, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot gives his thoughts on the future of Pharma - and the need to build a greener and more sustainable world.
Published 5 August 2021
AstraZeneca chief calls for global cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and climate change
Article
AstraZeneca chief calls for global cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and climate change
Pascal Soriot says "climate change is the biggest threat to humanity” and discusses future-looking strategy with Alexion acquisition in exclusive interview on company’s turnaround.
Published 2 August 2021
Mark Schneider
Article
Mark Schneider
As CEO of Nestlé, Mark Schneider is arguably the most powerful man in the food and beverage industry. And, as he reveals to IMD President Jean-François Manzoni in the latest episode of The CEO Inte...
Published 8 July 2021
Nestlé CEO sees shift in customer priorities towards sustainability
Article
Nestlé CEO sees shift in customer priorities towards sustainability
Mark Schneider cites data suggesting that effects of climate change and biodiversity loss have shot to the top of the agenda.
Published 6 July 2021
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp
Article
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp
As CEO of the Lego Group, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp masterminded an historic corporate turnaround. In this interview, he explains how he did it.
Published 3 July 2021
Alexis Nasard
Article
Alexis Nasard
Alexis Nasard likes to express himself openly and with a minimum of jargon. It’s a skill he developed early in his career, as he rose through the ranks at Procter & Gamble – and which later enabled...
Published 3 June 2021
Why we must harness power of the collective
Article
Why we must harness power of the collective
Alexis Nasard extols the virtues of inclusive capitalism to create a society where everyone is a winner. Interview by Jean-François Manzoni .
Published 3 June 2021
Article
Real learning, Real impact
In 2017, IMD adopted the tagline “Real Learning, Real Impact,” reflecting the institution’s orientation towards having a significant and sustainable impact on individuals, organisations and society...
Published 2 June 2020
Leading through a crisis: Insights from research and practice
Video
Leading through a crisis: Insights from research and practice
Our new video vignette mini-series
Published 17 April 2020
Article
The Board-Management relationship: How to achieve control and support
The world expects Boards to challenge management and ensure they optimise company performance. Management, on the other hand, also expects the board to provide help and support. Both dimensions (ch...
Published 1 April 2017
Article
To get more feedback, act more coachable
It’s hard to say who dreads critical feedback more: the manager giving it or the person receiving it. As the receiver, it can be uncomfortable and stressful to hear that you’re not performing well....
Published 22 September 2016
Article
Nurturing a high integrity culture
In this article, the author discusses the need of a high level of integrity in development of high performance organizations. It informs that there are two factors which make employees in an organi...
Published 1 December 2013
Article
Widening the lens: The challenges of leveraging boardroom diversity
Having spent the past five years working with the boards of some of the world's leading organizations, the authors reached a conclusion: boards need to become much more diverse -- not just demograp...
Published 1 May 2011
Article
Saving people from self-fulfilling labels
Many bosses have what they think is a commonsensical approach to managing underperformers—but it turns out to be quite dysfunctional. As soon as they begin to doubt a subordinate's competence, they...
Published 1 February 2011
Article
Fighting mistrust in alliances
Not all partnerships are salvageable. Strategic circumstances may have changed or accumulated tensions may make discussion impossible. But if the alliance retains its strategic logic, the partners ...
Published 26 December 2006
Article
How mistrust can wreck alliance
It is a disintegrating collaboration we are familiar with. Software developers in a US firm became very critical of their counterparts in the Indian company. A dramatic increase in time-to-market p...
Published 19 December 2006
Article
Untangling alliances and joint ventures
The most promising partnerships can easily collapse in acrimony. The authors advise acting early to guard against costly misunderstanding and suspicion.
Published 19 October 2006
Article
Leading light
In this article, the author speaks about Gandhi's charismatic leadership being based on attributes modern managers should emulate. “Leaders can elicit strong followership by passionately committing...
Published 1 April 2006
Article
How to stay ahead of the game
Published 3 February 2005
Article
How companies can go from good to great
How can managers bring about change when the organisation is doing well? In a corporate crisis such as a hostile takeover or a product recall, it is clear to all that something must be done. But go...
Published 19 August 2004
Article
Managing smart: Enabling under-performers to become valued contributors
Discusses the mechanisms that led companies to sub-optimize the contribution and potential of employees who are perceived as weaker performers. Reasons behind the negative reactions of employees to...
Published 1 March 2003
Article
The set-up-to-fail syndrome: How bosses create their own poor performers
France's recent successes make it more important than ever to understand what makes its managers tick. This year, France surpassed Japan and the U.K. in acquisitions of U.S. companies. And many Fre...
Published 1 January 1998