Jean-Francois Manzoni

Jean-Francois Manzoni
Thankfully, a growing number of leaders understand that the question is no longer whether they should, but rather how they can ensure that their organization’s financial success also contributes to a more sustainable and inclusive world. Our mission at IMD is to help them to make it happen.
Jean-Francois Manzoni

Jean-François Manzoni’s research, teaching, and consulting activities are focused on leadership, the development of high-performance organizations, and corporate governance. In recent years, he has been concentrating increasingly on ways to ensure leadership programs have lasting impact, particularly through the use of technology-mediated approaches.

At the organizational level, Manzoni studies the content of change (including the use of levers such as strategy, structure, and systems), the management of the change process, and the role of leaders therein. His work in this area has appeared in several books, articles, and over 30 cases – four of which received Case of the Year awards from the European Foundation for Management Development or the European Case Clearing House (now called the Case Centre). He also acted as content expert in the development of a ground-breaking computer-based change management simulation, the Change Pro Simulation®.

At an individual level, he studies how leaders can create a caring, high-performance work environment. This stream of research has led to several articles and a book entitled The Set-Up to Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail (with Jean-Louis Barsoux). The book, which builds on Manzoni’s and Barsoux’s initial Harvard Business Review article introducing the term “set-up-to-fail syndrome”, received two Book of the Year awards, and is discussed in undergraduate, MBA and executive development programs all over the world.

On the corporate governance side, Manzoni focuses on interpersonal dynamics within the boardroom, and between management and the board. His research examining the impact of interpersonal dynamics on increasingly diverse boards of directors received the Research Award on Leadership & Corporate Governance from the Association of Executive Search Consultants. A Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors, he currently serves on the board of Keppel Corporation, an international diversified group listed on the Singapore stock exchange (where he also chairs the nominations committee and is a member of the remuneration committee). He previously served on the Boards of AACSB International (the world’s largest business education alliance) and Singapore’s Civil Service College, among others.

Alongside these lifelong interests, Manzoni has also been increasingly interested in closing the growing managerial “knowing-doing gap”, i.e., the gap between what managers kind of know they should be doing and the extent to which they actually behave that way in practice. One aspect of this quest, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, has been exploring the role that technology can play in helping to design and deliver interventions that a) produce significant and lasting individual impact, and b) can be scaled effectively and efficiently to large numbers of individuals in order to build a real capability within the organization.

The recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching, Manzoni is Co-director of IMD’s signature program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and teaches on the High Performance Leadership (HPL) open program and Executive MBA (EMBA) course.

He re-joined IMD in 2016, having already served on the IMD faculty between 2004 and 2010, when he was Professor of Leadership and Organizational Development and Director of the their Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives (BPSE).

He previously served on the faculty of INSEAD in Singapore and Fontainebleau, where he founded, and for four years directed, the PwC Research Initiative on High Performance Organizations. He later directed their Global Leadership Centre, supporting the their leadership-related coaching, teaching, and research activities throughout the world.

A citizen of Canada and France, Manzoni received his doctorate from Harvard Business School. He had earlier graduated from L’École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal and worked with Ernst and Young in Montreal before receiving an MBA from McGill University.

Manzoni is a frequent keynote speaker and discussion partner for business leaders, including through the IMD CEO Dialogue Series in which he holds frank and insightful discussions with CEOs of various organizations. He has also performed consulting, top management team support, and leadership development work for several international organizations, which has led him to work in more than 30 countries over the years.

He currently serves on a number of International Advisory Panels of industry bodies (e.g., Digital Switzerland), academic institutions (e.g., EHL Hospitality Business School) and corporations (e.g., Novartis Culture Leadership Advisory Board).

Selected publications

Striving for meaningful impact in and through management education: The IMD perspective (Global Focus, forthcoming)

Executive education post-pandemic: Reflections on the role of technology-mediated interactions going forward, in Executive Education after the Pandemic: A Vision for the Future (Palgrave, 2022) pp. 245-256

Leading an (unusual) academic institution through a crisis: A personal reflection, in Business School Leadership and Crisis: Exit Planning (Cambridge University Press, 2022) pp. 311-330

Society needs to have the right conversations about the COVID-19 crisis (IMD, 2020)

The board-management relationship: How to achieve control and support (Singapore Institute of Directors Bulletin, 2017)

To get more feedback, act more coachable (Harvard Business Review, 2016)

Building and nurturing a high performance – high integrity corporate culture, in Performance Measurement and Management Control: Advancing Global Practice (Emerald, 2012) pp. 41-63

Widening the lens: The challenges of leveraging boardroom diversity (Rotman Magazine, 2011)

The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome: Overcoming the Undertow of Expectations (Harvard Business School Press, 2007)

A better way to deliver bad news (Harvard Business Review, 2002)

Implementing corporate strategy: from “tableaux de bord” to balanced scorecards (European Management Journal, 1998)

The set-up to fail syndrome: How bosses create their own poor performers (Harvard Business Review, 1998)

Selected Awards

Manzoni has received multiple awards for teaching and program direction, including:

Research Award on Leadership & Corporate Governance from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (2011)

ECCH Case of the Year Award, category Strategy and General Management (2007)

Book of the Year Awards for The Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome from the Society for Human Resource Management and

EFMD Case of the Year Awards in the categories Corporate Coaching (2004), Change Management (1998) and Public Sector Management (1998)

ANBAR Citation of Excellence for Understanding Organizational Dynamics of IT-Enabled Change: A Multimedia Simulation Approach (Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 14. No. 3).



HEC Montréal


McGill University, Montreal


Harvard Business School

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Jean-Francois Manzoni's Publications
Surviving and thriving through a crisis: leadership insights
Society needs to have the right conversations about the COVID-19 crisis
Leading through a crisis: Insights from research and practice