CEOs, Leadership and Workplace Insights

Disruptive jiu-jitsu: The foresight and courage to disrupt the disruptorsPracticing disruptive jiu-jitsu—learning from the competition, then deliberately disrupting one’s own business model to stay ahead of it—can enable CEOs to go on the offensive in the face of disruptive marketplace threats. May, 2019

“A Beginner’s Mindset: Leading Organizations in New Directions” CEOs looking for game-changing innovations can start by fostering, in themselves and across their organizations, a beginner’s mindset—one that sets aside the status quo to challenge assumptions and explore new possibilities. Article researched and authored with my Deloitte colleagues Benjamin Finzi and Vincent Firth. February, 2019

“How Insurance CEOs Can Become "‘Undisruptable’” No industry can feel safe from disruption, and that certainly includes what some may consider the staid world of insurance. If you’re in the middle of this industry it can feel like a tornado approaching out of nowhere. In this piece, published by Digital Insurance, my Deloitte colleagues and I look at the the essential undisruptable CEO traits to thrive in this business. February 28, 2019.

“Beyond Misogyny: Our pathological mean leaders” The #MeToo movement has unleashed a maelstrom of reports of inappropriate sexual behavior. But what I call the “Mean Men” syndrome has been responsible for equal, and sometimes even worse, wrongdoings. EFMD Global Focus (Brussels-based), February, 2019

A Beginner’s Mindset: Leading organizations in new directions CEOs looking for game-changing innovations can start by fostering, in themselves and across their organizations, a beginner’s mindset—one that sets aside the status quo to challenge assumptions and explore new possibilities. Deloitte Insights, February, 2019

Ambidextrous Leadership: Keystone of the undisruptable CEO” For the undisruptable CEO, the ability to be ambidextrous is essential—and elusive. How can CEOs cultivate ambidexterity in both themselves and the organizations they lead? Compelling new research summarized with my colleagues from the Deloitte CEO Program. October, 2018

Can CEOs Be Undisruptable? Culmination of a two year research project involving intimate interviews with Fortune 250 CEOs to understand their deeply-held views on what would make them un-disruptable. My wicked-smart colleagues with the Deloitte CEO Program and I believe the data indicate, and give insight to, a new leadership model. October 27, 2017

The Mean Man Advantage  Insightful summary on my views about the ways men and women are allowed and encouraged to express anger. Hint: It often benefits men to vomit their anger; just the opposite for women at work. Quartz, October 21, 2017

The Normalization of Mean Leaders: A Recipe for Disaster” Entrepreneur, September 26, 2017

“Leadership Transitions: Making the Leap from CFO to CEO” Coauthored with his Deloitte colleague Benjamin Finzi, “Making the Leap” takes a sober look at the leadership requirements for a successful transition and offers strong recommendations for CFOs considering the leap.

“Do You Know How Much Your Past Is Influencing Your Decision-Making Now?” A CEO’s past may influence his or her future more than anticipated. This is the first in a series of short articles that explore and “translate” recent and relevant academic research with an eye toward broadening and deepening nonacademic readers’ understanding of patterns in CEO behavior.

“How Will Your Tenure Affect Your Performance” Second in a series of “translational” academic research related to CEO behavior and cognition. Does a lengthy stint in the corner office inevitably blunt a leader’s cutting edge? Not if the top executive has the knowledge and foresight to do what’s necessary to stay sharp.

“Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Promised Land or Precipice?” Recent academic research has been analyzing the conditions under which women are promoted to top leadership positions and the challenges they face post-promotion. Until recently, little empirical data was available to understand the factors that shape the experience and success of women who, against large odds, are able to step beyond the glass ceiling. Mark summarizes this new research that concludes women are more likely than men to be promoted to high-risk leadership positions.

“Successful Women in a Mans World: The Myth of Managerial Androgyny” Women encounter an array of obstacles as they scale the hierarchies of corporations. Faced with these obstacles, some women falter, some are pushed out, some lose the drive to continue climbing—and some succeed, rising to meet the challenge. What can we learn from the women who do succeed? This was Mark’s first foray into management research, and though it represents the culmination of research conducted more than three decades ago, continual feedback from readers reinforces the validity of the findings today and how the model he proposes is now generalizable beyond gender.

Non-Profit CEOs - "Founder's Dilemma"

“New School Helps Founders Handle Strain of Leaving” A journalist’s story of a new approach to leadership development—developed by Mark—that better prepares not-for-profit CEOs who succeed organizational founders. He created the Founder’s Studio at The New School to ease the transition and to help new leaders deal with founders who often end up “sticking around” in any number of ways.

“NY Non-Profit Press, Op-Ed” Presents initial findings of a unique program for CEOs who follow the founder in not-for-profits, developed and managed at The New School.

“Komen’s New CEO May Be Hobbled by a Still-Powerful Founder” An op-ed authored by Mark. Embedded in this strong editorial are the findings of his years of work with Founder’s Dilemma.

The Client-Consultant Relationship

“When Clients Make You Crazy” You begin a consulting project with confidence and excitement. As time passes, you struggle increasingly with professional insecurity and work even harder, despite your growing desire to terminate your contract. What has happened? This article will introduce you to the psychological baggage that can influence the dynamics between client and consultant.


“Demystifying the Development of an Organizational Vision” This MIT Sloan Management Review article was Mark’s first publication to explore the notion of vision by explaining how and why visions work. He presents a template that outlines the principal themes necessary for an effective vision, and analyzes why visions sometimes fail. The popularity of this article, and requests from readers for more information on vision, inspired further research that led to his book Guiding Growth.

“Why Visions Fail” Following the release of Guiding Growth, Mark gleaned more insight from his consulting work on the often-difficult vision process. Most surprising? Ways in which the CEO can torpedo the development of the vision.

Case Studies

“Minding the Gap: Finding and Filling Community Needs through Coalition-Building” A case study authored by Mark for the Ford Foundation. It features a unique organization that successfully takes on the social issues of a small city that was left for dead.

“New York Rises Anew as Nation’s Center of Philanthropy” Largely forgotten in the fuss over Silicon Valley’s new wealth, New York philanthropy roars back from the recession. Article from February 2016 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy that features Mark’s work with uber-successful New York–based entrepreneurs.


Sponsored by the Dean's Office of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, and the executive offices of Schools of Public Engagement. Join us for an evening of celebration in honor of Mark Lipton's new publication, Mean Men, with a panel of leaders and experts on the preservation of America's self-made man.

Short video of Mark’s views on “the vision thing.”