Jennifer Jordan

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour

Jennifer Jordan is a social psychologist and a digital transformation and business ethics expert. Her teaching, research and consulting focus on ethics, digital leadership, influence and power. In 2019 she was named by Poets&Quants as one of the world’s leading business school professors under 40.

Jordan says leaders in today’s world are faced with massive changes that are disrupting organizations’ business models and society more generally, such as digitalization, the COVID-19 pandemic, and pressures to decarbonize and meet new ESG standards. They therefore have to find ways to manage uncertainty, while simultaneously leading transformations.

Leaders in today’s society need to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn. They know that they have to learn. The challenge is how to unlearn and relearn. In working with leaders, my aim is to facilitate that process.

She believes the best approach is to create psychological safety by fostering an experimental mindset and empowering others, so that the value of team diversity is captured and responsibility is shared.

Leaders need to constantly “unlearn” old ways of doing things and “relearn” new behaviors in order to adapt to the perpetual change and disruption of today’s world, but at the same time they should also identify previous approaches that remain relevant, to ensure that they do not “throw out the leadership baby with the organizational bathwater” as they manage the transformation of their organizations, she says.

Jordan has received specialized training and certifications in lie and truthfulness detection, as well as in conflict resolution within organizations, and she has delivered custom programs and consultancy services for a wide range of companies, including Barilla, KONE, Shell, DSM, Cisco, Loomis, Pfizer, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Rolls Royce, Zurich Insurance, Honda, Nexthink, UBS, Siemens, Electrolux and AIA Insurance.

At IMD, she is Director of the Leadership Skills for the Digital Age (LSDA), Leading in the Digital Age (LDA) and Leadership Essentials (LE) open programs, and she directs the leadership stream for the MBA program.

Her work has appeared in numerous scientific journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Management, Business Ethics Quarterly, Journal of Business Ethics, Psychological Science, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Applied Social Psychology and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

She is also a member of the editorial boards of the journals Leadership Quarterly and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

When Poets&Quants included her on its ‘Best 40 under 40’ list in 2019, it said her research was in such demand that she had been cited almost 1,500 times by other academics.

She has also had several articles published in Harvard Business Review, and her work has been cited in mainstream publications, from The New York Times to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

She co-edited one of the seminal scientific books on wisdom, Handbook of Wisdom: Psychological Perspectives, and was a contributor to the books Leadership at the Crossroads: Psychology and Leadership and The Handbook of Organizational and Managerial Wisdom.

Before joining IMD in 2016, Jordan was Associate Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and a post-doctoral fellow at the Kellogg School of Management and Tuck School of Business in the United States. She served as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin during her doctoral research.

Selected publications
Article
Finding the right balance — and flexibility — in your leadership style
It’s an outdated idea that a leader should adopt a fixed leadership style that’s agnostic to the specific context in which he or she is operating. A single approach to leadership is not going to me...
Published 11 January 2022
Article
How shadow boards bridge generational divides
A shadow board is a group of young, nonexecutive employees tapped to work with the executive board on strategic initiatives. It’s designed to introduce a company’s (typically middle-aged) leadershi...
Published 8 March 2022
Article
Every leader needs to navigate these 7 tensions
In surveys and interviews with hundreds of leaders worldwide, we uncovered seven core tensions between the traditional and emerging leadership approaches. Those tensions create significant stress f...
Published 20 February 2020
Article
Antecedents of leaders' power sharing: The roles of power instability and distrust
Although previous research has identified various beneficial consequences of power sharing, less research has examined antecedents of leaders’ power sharing. To address this gap, across five studie...
Published 1 March 2020
Article
Why you should create a “shadow board” of younger employees
A lot of companies struggle with two apparently unrelated problems: disengaged younger workers and a weak response to changing market conditions. A few companies have tackled both problems at the s...
Published 4 June 2019
Article
Reaching the top and avoiding the bottom: How ranking motivates unethical intentions and behavior
Across six studies we explore when, why, and how an individual’s rank position affects their unethical intentions and behavior. We first demonstrate that competing to attain top ranks leads to more...
Published 1 November 2016
Article
Someone to look up to: Executive-follower ethical reasoning and perceptions of ethical leadership
Despite a business environment that highlights the importance of executives’ ethical leadership, the individual antecedents of ethical leadership remain largely unknown. In this study, the authors ...
Published 1 March 2013
Article
Striving for the moral self: The effects of recalling past moral actions on future moral behavior
People’s desires to see themselves as moral actors can contribute to their striving for and achievement of a sense of selfcompleteness. The authors use self-completion theory to predict (and show) ...
Published 1 January 2011
Article
Something to lose and nothing to gain: The role of stress in the interactive effect of power and stability on risk taking
The current investigation explores how power and stability within a social hierarchy interact to affect risk taking. Building on a diverse, interdisciplinary body of research, including work on non...
Published 1 January 2011
Programs
Online
Leadership Skills for the Digital Age

Leading at your best in the digital age

Explore key competencies and skills you need to lead effectively in a globally connected and constantly changing world.

Location: Online Length: 5 weeks Fee: CHF 1,950 Next start: 31 October 2022
On campus
Leading in the Digital Age

Leading your team through digital change

Provides you with tools to develop the skills to effectively lead in the face of digital transformation.

Location: liVe virtual or on campus Length: 2.5 days Fee: CHF 4,950
Online
Leadership Essentials

Jumpstart your journey to top leadership

Unleash your leadership potential, uncover how to use power and influence effectively, and manage a high-performing team.

Location: Online Length: 5 weeks Fee: CHF 1,950 Next start: 7 November 2022
Academic publications
Article
Regulatory focus theory: Disentangling goals and strategies
The purpose of this research was to develop and test the Regulatory Goals and Strategies Questionnaire (RGSQ) to promote conceptual and empirical clarity in the literature on regulatory focus theor...
Published 8 February 2022
Article
Contextualizing the impostor “syndrome”
The impostor “syndrome” refers to the notion that some individuals feel as if they ended up in esteemed roles and positions not because of their competencies, but because of some oversight or strok...
Published 13 November 2020
Article
The dark side of relational leadership: Positive and negative reciprocity as fundamental drivers of follower’s intended pro-leader and pro-self unethical behavior
In this study, we use a social exchange perspective to examine when [i.e., high- vs. low-quality leader–member exchange (LMX)], why (i.e., positive vs. negative reciprocity), and how (i.e., pro-lea...
Published 10 July 2020
Article
Reaching the top and avoiding the bottom: How ranking motivates unethical intentions and behavior
Across six studies we explore when, why, and how an individual’s rank position affects their unethical intentions and behavior. We first demonstrate that competing to attain top ranks leads to more...
Published 1 November 2016
Article
Data from a pre-publication independent replication initiative examining ten moral judgement effects
We present the data from a crowdsourced project seeking to replicate findings in independent laboratories before (rather than after) they are published. In this Pre-Publication Independent Replicat...
Published 11 October 2016
Article
Antecedents of leaders' power sharing: The roles of power instability and distrust
Although previous research has identified various beneficial consequences of power sharing, less research has examined antecedents of leaders’ power sharing. To address this gap, across five studie...
Published 1 March 2020
Article
Constraining temptation: How specific and general rules mitigate the effect of personal gain on unethical behavior
Rules are often installed in order to constrain unethical behavior. Rules can be framed either in specific (“Don’t accepts gifts from clients.”) or general terms (“Don’t engage in conflicts of inte...
Published 1 January 2020
Insight for Executives
Article
Using emojis to connect with your team
Leaders have often relied on physical cues, such as facial expressions and body language, to gauge and communicate emotions or intent. But doing so is more difficult in the remote workplace, where ...
Published 30 May 2022
Article
How shadow boards bridge generational divides
A shadow board is a group of young, nonexecutive employees tapped to work with the executive board on strategic initiatives. It’s designed to introduce a company’s (typically middle-aged) leadershi...
Published 8 March 2022
Cyna Pharma: Reaping the Rewards of Perseverance (B)
Case Study
Cyna Pharma: Reaping the Rewards of Perseverance (B)
The B case describes the events – including the offers and the negotiation – leading up to Sundown’s acquisition of Cyna for US$40.50 per share in cash or US$624 million (approximately C$841 millio...
Published 27 January 2022
Cyna Pharma: Reaping the Rewards of Perseverance (A)
Case Study
Cyna Pharma: Reaping the Rewards of Perseverance (A)
The A case tells the story of Anthony Giovinazzo’s entrepreneurial journey with Cyna Pharma, which he built from the ground up. Cyna Pharma was a Canada-based specialty pharmaceutical company that ...
Published 25 January 2022
Article
Finding the right balance — and flexibility — in your leadership style
It’s an outdated idea that a leader should adopt a fixed leadership style that’s agnostic to the specific context in which he or she is operating. A single approach to leadership is not going to me...
Published 11 January 2022
Article
Your employees are your best defense against cyberattacks
Most cyberattacks target people, not systems. In fact, the vast majority of attacks can be traced back to human failures. So, when you’re thinking about your company’s cybersecurity, you should rea...
Published 30 August 2021
Escape the shackles of a fixed mindset to unleash growth
Article
Escape the shackles of a fixed mindset to unleash growth
Fixed mindsets stop leaders and teams from innovating, taking risks and learning – all crucial factors of success in today’s rapidly changing world. Jennifer Jordan and Heather Cairns-Lee explain h...
Published 29 June 2021
How to contextualize the impostor syndrome and minimize its impact
Article
How to contextualize the impostor syndrome and minimize its impact
Instead of framing the insecurities of individuals belonging to marginalized groups solely as a "personal" problem, we must consider the important role of the environment in order to offer more str...
Published 7 March 2021
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (A)
Case Study
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (A)
How could the CDO get Novartis digitally ready? Part 1
Published 26 August 2020
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (B)
Case Study
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (B)
How could the CDO get Novartis digitally ready? Part 2
Published 26 August 2020
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (C)
Case Study
Leading the digital transformation at Novartis: The role of the CDO (C)
This final case in a three-part case series follows the progress, challenges and achievements of the CDO and his digital team at Novartis. Part 3
Published 26 August 2020
Second that emotion - building emotional resilience
Video
Second that emotion - building emotional resilience
How working effectively with emotions in challenging times presents the opportunity to build up your resilience and become a better leader.
Published 24 May 2020
Leading virtual teams 2.0
Video
Leading virtual teams 2.0
Tips for leading a virtual team with engagement and effectiveness.
Published 14 May 2020
Managing your energy: four dimensions
Video
Managing your energy: four dimensions
Understanding how to manage your energy from a leadership perspective.
Published 10 May 2020
Article
Lessons in agility from a dancer turned professor
“Agility” has become a hugely popular management buzzword. But what does it really mean? My first introduction to the concept came long before I studied management, let alone talked about it with e...
Published 6 April 2020
Leading virtual teams in times of disruption
Article
Leading virtual teams in times of disruption
Four ways to tackle both task and team spirit effectively
Published 19 March 2020
Article
Every leader needs to navigate these 7 tensions
In surveys and interviews with hundreds of leaders worldwide, we uncovered seven core tensions between the traditional and emerging leadership approaches. Those tensions create significant stress f...
Published 20 February 2020
Article
Why reverse mentoring works and how to do it right
Many companies struggle with how to retain Millennial talent – and also with how to stay relevant to younger consumers. In response to these challenges, leadership teams of major companies around t...
Published 3 October 2019
Article
Why you should create a “shadow board” of younger employees
A lot of companies struggle with two apparently unrelated problems: disengaged younger workers and a weak response to changing market conditions. A few companies have tackled both problems at the s...
Published 4 June 2019
Think direct eye contact makes someone trustworthy? It can be a sign of something much darker
Article
Think direct eye contact makes someone trustworthy? It can be a sign of something much darker
We usually interpret someone looking us straight in the eye during an interaction as a sign of trustworthiness. In fact, it can be rather unsettling when someone avoids eye contact. But research i...
Published 29 March 2019
Developing people in a time of digital disruption
Article
Developing people in a time of digital disruption
We are unquestionably in an age where digital is revolutionizing all we do in the organization – including how we manage people. This article is meant to provide you with insights into the innovati...
Published 19 March 2019
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (A)
Case Study
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (A)
In 2013, GE implemented the FastWorks program, an initiative that utilized tools and methods adapted from start-up methodologies to make the company more customer centric, lean and agile. With the ...
Published 4 October 2018
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (B)
Case Study
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (B)
In 2013, GE implemented the FastWorks program, an initiative that utilized tools and methods adapted from start-up methodologies to make the company more customer centric, lean and agile. With the ...
Published 4 October 2018
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (C)
Case Study
Performance development at GE: Shaping a fit-for-purpose performance management system (C)
In 2013, GE implemented the FastWorks program, an initiative that utilized tools and methods adapted from start-up methodologies to make the company more customer centric, lean and agile. With the ...
Published 4 October 2018
The shifting position of leadership in a time of digital disruption
Article
The shifting position of leadership in a time of digital disruption
In times of intense digital disruption, leaders need to position themselves in the group differently to how it was done in the pre-digital era. Why? If, like many of the executives I work with, you...
Published 31 August 2018
Leading virtual teams
Article
Leading virtual teams
One of the most common questions (and complaints I hear) from managers in the digital age is, “How do I work better with my virtual team?” This is a 5-million-franc answer, as the paucity of rigoro...
Published 23 August 2018
Cracking the millennial code
Article
Cracking the millennial code
For the last five years, the influence of Millennials (people born approximately between 1980 and 2000) in the workplace has put pressure on many leaders and their organizations. But generational t...
Published 12 August 2018
Scandals in the non-profit sector: Research shows people attempt to psychologically offset misdeeds
Article
Scandals in the non-profit sector: Research shows people attempt to psychologically offset misdeeds
This year has seen a number of scandals in the humanitarian sector come to light – from Oxfam to a high-profile aid-worker in Nepal. What’s common in all these stories is that the accused workers, ...
Published 31 May 2018
Article
Does the quest for high status encourage misconduct: Volkswagen and similar falls from grace motivated by the desire to be Number 1
This article presents a study on how rankings foster competition among people to avoid low ranks or attain high ranks. It showed that those who compete to obtain top ranks in and of themselves were...
Published 1 May 2018
Article
As AI makes more decisions, the nature of leadership will change
It is tempting to regard artificial intelligence as a threat to human leadership. After all, the very purpose of AI is to augment, improve, and ultimately replace human intelligence, which is still...
Published 22 January 2018