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News Stories · Leadership

IMD faculty strengthened by specialist in psychology of leadership

A new appointment will bring battleground tactics to executives
April 2021

Dr. Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg has joined IMD as Adjunct Professor of Leadership. A clinical psychologist specializing in organizational psychology, she brings more than two decades of professional and research experience in sustainable high performance, ethical leadership, and creating shared identity in top teams.

Dr. Wedell-Wedellsborg is no stranger to IMD, as she has been working closely with Anand Narasimhan, Shell Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Faculty and Research, in helping leaders cope during the pandemic by balancing compassion with containment. She is also a contributor to IMD’s online platforms, including the recently launched I by IMD site.

The Dane says she is looking forward to “gaining an intellectual home” at IMD, adding: “After years of running my own consulting practice I value being part of a community of peers, as well as quite a few much more brilliant minds.”

Through the work of her business psychology practice, Dr. Wedell-Wedellsborg has supported clients including NATO, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz, Genentech, LEGO, AP Moller Maersk, Novo Nordisk, The American Society of Clinical Oncology, Virgin Atlantic and The Association of American Museum Directors.

“Right now 90% of my work is about crisis management and crisis recovery: performing under pressure, leading in high-stakes situations, energizing and revitalizing top teams, linking personal and professional growth, and even connecting psychology, purpose and ethics,” she says.

“IMD is delighted to welcome Dr. Wedell-Wedellsborg to the faculty. She is an acclaimed thought leader and reflexive practitioner. Her expertise in coaching and developing top executive teams is highly sought after, and her presence is a great addition to our vibrant community of practice,” adds Narasimhan.

Battle psychology for the boardroom

Dr. Wedell-Wedellsborg explains that she became “obsessed with finding the secrets of sustainable performance and then got drawn into crisis management via a decade of work for the Danish Defense.”

She laid the foundation for her career at the Royal Danish Defense Academy, testing fighter pilots, developing assessment frameworks for officers, teaching and training battle psychology with cadets, debriefing military units returning from international missions, and being deployed as a crisis psychologist to emergency and disaster situations.

With a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Copenhagen already under her belt, Dr Wedell-Wedellsborg completed a PhD in Business Economics at Copenhagen Business School before working for consultancy firm Right Management and Danske Bank. This was the prelude to starting her own practice.

Her book Battle Mind: How to Navigate in Chaos and Perform Under Pressure (2015) has been described by Søren Kyhl, Deputy CEO and COO at Saxo Bank, as “a stimulating tour through the mind on high alert” that is “full of useful insights on sustainable high-performance and how you can learn to bounce back from major setbacks.”

‘I push leaders to do the hard work’

She is particularly excited about working with IMD’s hybrid model; she sees the research-driven approach to problem-solving as a good match for her own professional temper because it is “always attuned to clients’ needs with a focus on inspiring action and having a real-world impact.”

“I have never been good at procrastinating and like to push leaders to do the hard work now. Sometimes, that drives people around me slightly mad. But really, I see how it works with my clients: the most impatient and frustrated clients develop all the time, whereas the contented ones stagnate and flounder,” she explains.

Dr Wedell-Wedellsborg is not shy to admit that the Swiss Alps also lure her to IMD. “Teaching in Lausanne with the greatest mountains as the backdrop inspires a humbling mix of staying grounded while aspiring to reach the next summit,” she says.