Herminia Ibarra

Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School 

An authority on leadership and career development, Thinkers 50 ranks Ibarra among the top management thinkers in the world.


Herminia Ibarra is the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School. Prior to joining LBS, she served on the INSEAD and Harvard Business School faculties.

An authority on leadership and career development, Thinkers 50 ranks Ibarra among the top management thinkers in the world. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network, a judge for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, one of Apolitica’s 100 most influential people in gender policy, a Fellow of the British Academy, and the 2018 recipient of the Academy of Management’s Scholar-Practitioner Award for her research’s contribution to management practice.

She is the author of two best-selling books, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader and Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. Her most recent article, The Leader as Coach, won the 2019 Warren Bennis Prize for the best leadership article in the Harvard Business Review.

Ibarra writes regularly in leading academic journals and business publications including the Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times and speaks internationally on leadership and organizational transformation.

Ibarra is a member of the London Business School Governing Body. She chaired the Harvard Business School Visiting Committee, which reports to the University’s Board of Overseers, from 2012 to 2016, having been a member since 2009, and served on the INSEAD Board of Directors.

A native of Cuba, Ibarra received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, where she was a National Science Fellow.


How to Step up to Bigger Leadership Roles

Today’s breakneck pace of technological change has an immense impact on leaders, and as a result, on their organisations’ capacity to transform. All too often, executives remain stuck in outdated mindsets and modes of operating, even when they recognise the need to reinvent themselves in order to step up in their careers. This interactive session upends traditional, introspective advice and says act first — in order to change your way of thinking. Whether you are moving into a new role or stepping up in your current post, in this session you will learn to change through action, not reflection, and to apply a growth mindset to our own leadership capacities.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify how to redefine your job so that your contributions are more strategic and client-centred.
  • Learn how to expand your network so that you connect to and learn from a bigger range of stakeholders inside and outside your firm.
  • Understand different ways of defining authenticity in order to give yourself permission to stretch beyond your ‘natural’ leadership styles and habitual ways of contributing.

Leadership Skills for Organisational Transformation

Today more than ever we need leaders who can help transform our firms — so they become more agile, more innovative, more digitally savvy, more customer-centric, more inclusive and/or more human. Herminia has found that five leadership skills are vital for moving our organizations in this desired direction, increasing their people’s capacity to deal with today’s adaptive challenges: situations in which problems are complex, there isn’t an obvious answer, and, the brainpower and enthusiasm of many, not just the top leaders, is needed to solve them.

The Five Skills:

  • Cross-cutting: developing networks of relationships that extend and connect to a diversity of people and groups.
  • Collaborating: fostering candor and psychological safety to increase team performance.
  • Coaching: asking questions to develop others’ potential.
  • Culture-shaping: proactively shaping organizational culture and mindsets, including recognizing and modifying practices that are no longer fit for purpose.
  • Connecting: growing in empathy and authentic leadership.

How to Get a More Diverse Pool of Talent into Senior Leadership
Career success is a tripod built on three legs: key experiences that help people learn critical business, functional and organisational skills; a network of helping relationships that provide information, advice and support; and growing in confidence, credibility and reputation.

These are precisely the same three arenas in which gender and racial bias play out in organisations: access to mission-critical roles, access to a network of senior gatekeepers and biased perceptions about the capacity and potential of people who are underrepresented at senior levels. In this session, Herminia explains how the three legs of the tripod work together to create virtuous or vicious career cycles, and how organisations can improve progression rates by tackling all three in unison.

Developing Authentic Sponsorship Relationships
Getting the mission-critical roles and stepping stone assignments that pave the way to a successful career requires more than skills and drive. It requires a special kind of relationship — called ‘sponsorship’ — in which mentors goes beyond giving feedback and advice to use their influence with other senior executives to advocate for proteges and ensure that they have exposure and visibility with other top decision makers.

In this session, you will learn what sponsorship is, why it matters, and most importantly, how to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships such that, over time, your relationships are more likely to blossom into true sponsorship. Herminia and the participants will discuss the spectrum of helping relationships, ingredients of effective career conversations, how to manage universal ‘like me’ biases and how to overcome common challenges in sponsoring relationships across differences. 




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