Mai Trinh studies how to effectively lead complex social systems — composed of highly interdependent, heterogeneous agents such as leaders, group members, and their operating environments — in uncertain and changing contexts. She draws on research from organization science, complex system science, education, philosophy, and sociology and uses multiple research methods such as surveys, interviews and computational simulation in order to identify novel pathways for leaders to optimize their influence within both traditional and emerging organizations.
Practically and pedagogically, Mai uses Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory as well as executive and peer coaching to help leaders develop absorptive, adaptive and generative capacities to be more effective in a changing world. She focuses on key competencies such as learning identity, teamwork, appreciation of diversity, humility, and flexibility. Overall, Mai’s work highlights the multiple possibilities of effective leadership and emphasizes that one’s leadership portfolio is dependent on individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as their fit with external environments. Her scholarship helps people realize and enact their leadership portfolio and equips them with the skills to be able to navigate complexity, anticipate uncertainty, and adapt to changes in their local organizations and communities.
Mai earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She is an Assistant Professor in the faculty of Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State University.