An award-winning organizational scholar and expert in psychological safety and error management, Lei’s work focuses on how teams can adapt in complex, time-pressured, and consequence-laden environments. - IMD Business School
News Stories · Human Resources

Zhike Lei joins IMD faculty

An award-winning organizational scholar and expert in psychological safety and error management, Lei’s work focuses on how teams can adapt in complex, time-pressured, and consequence-laden environments.
March 2023

IMD is pleased to announce that Zhike Lei has joined IMD as a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Lei is an award-winning organizational scholar. Her expertise includes studying how organizations, teams, and employees adapt and learn in complex, time-pressured, consequence-laden environments. 

“We’re excited that Zhike is joining our faculty,” said Seán Meehan, Professor of Marketing and Management and Dean of Faculty at IMD. “Her scholarly work on team dynamics in high pressure environments, together with her passion for pedagogical innovation, makes her a perfect addition to our world class leadership faculty.” 

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. In today’s fast-paced world, she believes resilience is a muscle that needs to be constantly trained so that leaders are ready to act when confronted with new crises. 

“Until you are trained to have resilience hard-wired into your mentality, it’s hard to leap into action and improvise on the fly,” she said. 

As a management educator, she has taught executives as well as PhD, DBA, EMBA and MBA candidates, and undergraduates across the globe and has won numerous teaching awards and recognitions. One of her areas of focus is on how today’s leaders need to balance their power with humility in a complex and uncertain world. 

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

Lei joins IMD from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School, where she served as a Professor of Applied Behavior Science, as a 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. Before joining academia, she worked as a marketing specialist at Dentsu and Nielsen. 

Her research has been published in premier academic outlets including 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, among others. 

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