Prof. Zeynep Aycan

Founder and prıncıpal Investıgator

Zeynep Aycan is the Koç Holding Chair of Management and Strategy. She is a Professor with dual appointments in the Department of Psychology and School of Management of Koç University. She is the former Graduate Dean directing MA and Ph.D. programs in social sciences and humanities. Aycan received her Ph.D. at Queen’s University and conducted postdoctoral studies at McGill University. Her research focuses on leadership, cross-cultural management, and work-life balance. She has published 6 books and more than 85 book chapters and research articles in journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Science, Annual Review of Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies, and Human Relations.
Aycan has visited Harvard University, Aston University (UK), Oxford European School of Management (UK), Bordeaux University (France), Tartu School of Management (Estonia), and Renmin University of China as a scholar or lecturer.

Among the awards and recognitions Aycan received, the followings are the most notable:

o TUBITAK Science Award
o Best Book Award in Management and Leadership, Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
o American Psychological Association Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award
o Outstanding Young Scholar Award, the World Economic Forum, Interacademy Panel
o Outstanding Young Scholar Award, Turkish Academy of Sciences
o Best Paper Award, Applied Psychology: An International Review
o Alumni Member, Global Young Academy
o Research Fellow, Center for Global Workforce Strategy, Simon Fraser University
o Outstanding Faculty Award, Koç University, CSSH
o Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Award (co-recipient)
o Outstanding Teaching Award, Renmin University of China
o Elected Fellow, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)
o Elected Fellow, Association for Psychological Sciences (APS)

Artwork by Nancy J Adler ©     

Graduate Students


Aybike Mutluer

PhD Candidate

Hi! I am a social sciences scholar who is extremely curious about leaders, their audiences, and ethics. I am currently a PhD candidate in Koç University, and a visiting scholar in Schulich School of Business, York University. I obtained two master’s degrees, MSc. in Economics from Tilburg University and MA in Political Science from Sabancı University, and have 2 years of management consultancy experience in Ernst & Young (EY) and Deloitte.

“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

– Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #2)


Elif Gizem Demirağ

PhD Candidate

I am a PhD student studying on leadership and nonverbal behavior. I am interested in analyzing how nonverbal cues such as facial appearance and body movements influence how leaders are perceived.
Among a countless number of definitions of leadership, I consider leadership as a way of influencing beholders through creating an image. What I definitely know about leadership is that it is a topic, which cannot be studied without understanding its interaction with followers and context.

‘’The art of communication is the language of leadership.’’  
–James Humes


Muaz Özcan

PhD Student

Hi! I am Muaz, a PhD student from KU Leadership Lab. I am investigating the possible effects of worries about leadership (WAL) that individuals have on the organizational variables such as diversity, and the quality of selection and promotion procedures. Currently, I am working on a conceptual model to explain the links between the individual level WAL and such organizational level outcomes.
For me, leadership in today’s world means a broken thing that we must fix as soon as possible. We should do it for ourselves and next generations’ wellbeing. In my opinion, the current state of leadership is far from ideal, not to mention that is extremely unsustainable in terms of productivity and welfare. Therefore, one of my favorite quotations belongs to the current President of the United States:

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.”
— Donald Trump 

Seniha Özden

Seniha Özden

PhD Student

Hello, dear visitor! I am a second year PhD Student of Organizational Psychology at Koç University. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Anthropology from Hunter College at the City University of New York (CUNY) and my Master’s in Industrial & Organizational Psychology from Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY as well. My current research interests comprise the identification, development and sustainability of “disruptive” leadership, constructive deviance and innovative mindsets with the central focus and aim of empowerment.
What leadership means to me is having a unique vision, and the inspiration and internal drive to mobilize yourself and others for the search and upholding of the ultimate truths in life and work, always for the betterment and progress of society at large.

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” 
– John Maxwell  


Yasemin Paçacı

PhD Student​

Hi all! I am a PhD student in the Management and Strategy department at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Yeditepe University with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Economics. I completed my master’s thesis on “Effect of Trust and Justice on Contextual Performance” at Marmara University during which I worked as an assistant for three years. My research interests include change management and mindfulness. In my opinion, leadership is not about holding the power, but to empower others. I believe that everyone should be mindful of their strength and be their self-leader in our ever-changing world.

In line with this idea, I would like to share my favorite quote from our greatest leader to all future leaders of the world:

“Muhtaç olduğun kudret damarlarındaki asil kanda mevcuttur.”
“The power you need is in the noble blood in your vessels.”

– M. Kemal Atatürk


Dilem Cinli

PhD Student​

Hello! I am Dilem, a PhD student of Organizational Psychology at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University with a major in Psychology and a
minor in Business Administration. I obtained my master’s degree in Social and Organizational Psychology from Koç University. After one-year experience in corporate experience in Human Resources, I decided to come back to university as a doctoral student. My current research interests include leader emergence, and my favorite quote about leadership is:

“True leaders do not create followers, they create more leaders.”

– Ziad K. Abdelnour


Bahar Moralıgil Kağıtçıbaşı

PhD Student

Hi everyone! I am a Phd Student in the Management and Strategy department at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Bilgi University with a double major in Business Administration and Media and Communication Systems. I started my career in Human Resources at UPS. Later, I continued my ten years of work experience in Deloitte and women empowerment networks, TurkishWIN and Wtech. Whether working as an HR Professional in corporate, managing a global community of women leaders at TurkishWIN or initiating a new network like Wtech, I was reminded again and again that the most important factor for success is an effective leadership. And this is exactly why I have an eager interest in conducting research on leadership to further explore this dynamic. My favorite quote about leadership is:

“A boss has the title, a leader has the people”

– Simon Sinek

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Didar Zeytun

Lab Manager & MA Student

Hello everyone! I am a second-year master’s student in Social and Organisational Psychology and lab manager of KU Leadership Lab. After 4 years of corporate experience, I came back to university to study what I am passionate about and to pursue an academic career. I am particularly interested in identity, emotion regulation at work, meaning-making, job insecurity, and the future of work. I firmly believe that leadership is about inspiration and creating meaning.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou


E. İlker Camgöz

MA Student

I am an MA student in Social and Organizational Psychology. I double-majored in Psychology and Media and Visual Arts during my undergraduate studies at Koç University. I am interested in quite wide range of topics in psychology from cognitive neuroscience to social psychology and I believe that any one area of psychology should communicate well with other areas. Currently, I am specifically interested in well-being at workplace, work design and leadership.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

– Jim Rohn


Çağdaş Kılıç

MA Student

I am currently a first year M.A. student in Industrial/Organizational psychology program. My research interests are mainly on various parameters that affect employees’ psychological well-being and performance, and the role of different leadership types that may have an impact on such factors. I believe leadership is the ability to help people collaborate productively and walk towards a goal together while making sure that every single member of the group maintains a high level of self-worth and occupational health.

One of my favourite quotations about leadership is “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

– John Maxwell 

Seyit Can Bahar

Seyit Can Bahar

MA Student

I graduated from Middle East Technical University. I’m a first year M.A. student in the field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  Up to now, my research was focused on personality –specifically Big Five and Dark Triad- and its outcomes at workplace. In my academic career, I’m willing to study the interaction between Big Data and I/O psychology. I want to investigate possible ways to improve the methodological issues in I/O psychology with innovations provided by data science and informatics. When I think about leadership, the first thing that comes to my mind is innovation. I believe leaders are the ones who pursue new ways to improve their organizations. However, these new ways should be developed by analyzing current state of the organization and provide maximum utility to

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ege Eskin

MA Student

I did my internship in LeadLab during my bachelor, then I graduated from Izmir University of Economics and I’m currently a MA student in Koç University. My research interest is about the approaches to leadership in different cultural contexts. I am also looking forward to study about the female role in the organizational world.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

– Peter Drucker

İlayda Arslan LLab Website Foto

İlayda Arslan

MA Student

Hi! I am a first year MA student in Social Psychology. I studied economics and psychology at Koç University as an undergraduate. Gaining perspectives from these two fields, my curiosity led me towards the area of judgment and decision making. In general, I am interested in how do people get affected from cognitive biases, emotions and intuitions when making decisions and how is it possible to make better choices. In this lab, I enjoy asking these questions in leadership context. I see leadership as a power to become your authentic self, with all your beliefs, choices and actions.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that

– Warren Bennis

Undergraduate students

Elif Bozkurt

Undergraduate Student

Hi! I am Elif. I am a senior Psychology student at Koç University. What leadership means to me is to create a new way rather than discovering path which has already existed by supporting people to uncover the ore in them and to shape their own paths.

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
—Ralph Nader

Hüseyin Tayyip Göktaş

Undergraduate Student

I am an undergraduate psychology student at Koç University. What leadership means to me? Leadership is to create a meadowlark by using hundreds of different butterflies.

“In the street of the blind, the one-eyed man is called the Guiding Light.”
–Genesis Rabbah.

Seniha Bark

Undergraduate Student

Hi! I am an undergraduate senior student who is studying psychology in Koç University. I am interested in leadership and perfectionism. Interpreting the situations and discovering problems while enlightening peers is what leadership actually means to me. My favorite quotation is

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say”
Stephen Covey

Gülce Zeynep Önal

Undergraduate Student

Hello! I am Gülce, a senior psychology student at Koç University. Currently, I am working in the Leadership Lab (LLab) at Koç University, which has given me the opportunity to contribute to science and the practice of leadership. This experience has been valuable in helping me realize my interests in creating positive change in via leadership and it showed me the importance of the effective leadership since it enhances the work performance, motivation and inspiration of the employees.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
–Lao Tzu

İlke Uysal

Undergraduate Student

Hello! I am İlke. I am a senior, undergraduate student in Chemical and Biological Engineering & Psychology at Koc University. For me, leadership is giving others the inspiration and the power to change.

“Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to unbuild walls.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Ahmet Kaan Hızarcı

Undergraduate Student

Hello! I am Kaan, an undergraduate student  in Industrial Eng. & Psychology at Koç University. What does leadership mean to me is that creating the best environment which makes people feel comfortable and find their capabilities. Unlike the traditional leaderships, the one who cares every individual in his/her groups.

Batuhan Özkanlı

Undergraduate Student

Hi! My name is Batuhan, I am a senior Business Administration-Psychology double major student at Koç University, I have just recently started working in the Leadership Lab. I consider this as the beginning of my pursuit of understanding and expanding the practical and scientific knowledge of Leadership. Because of the nature of my studies, I had the opportunity to merge both of these fields together. I believe that this different perspective will help me in my long term goal of making the world a better place than I had found it through effective and positive leadership.

“The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.”
— Henry Kissinger

Buse Nur Caba

Undergraduate Student

Hi! I am Buse, a junior undergraduate student in Psychology & Economics at Koç University.
I am interested in the concept of shared leadership in teams, specifically in volunteer projects. How leaders make decisions under different circumstances and how they deal with their responsibilities inspire me to study in this field. Also, studying Economics contributes to my understanding of decision making and experimental approaches.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. ”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower




  • Malina Scheuer ​(MA, 2019)
  • Gülşah Kurt​ (PhD)
  • Salome Shelia (PhD, 2019)
  • Sena Arslan (MA, 2019)
  • Begüm Bilgin (MA, 2019)
  • Burçin Erarslan Başkurt (PhD, 2017)
  • Özlem Yürekli (MA, 2015)
  • Ceyda Kuvancı (MA, 2015)
  • Cemre Sandal (MA, 2015)


  • Ege Eskin
  • Elif Çisil İnan
  • Eda Kurtoğlu
  • Zeynep Özakay
  • Gülbey Balım Keskiner 
  • Bedriye Kuyumcu
  • Duygu Kızılkaya
  • Nesrin Naz Aydın
  • Özge Gezer
  • Özge Nur Yağlı
  • Ege Bıçaker
  • Beril Aydıngör

Artwork by Nancy J Adler ©

According to the World Economic Forum, “leadership is in crisis!” The need for effective (i.e., successful and ethical) leadership has been growing in recent years....

Koç University Leadership Lab (LLab) is founded in 2016 by Professor Zeynep Aycan. The objective of LLab is to provide a physical and intellectual space to conduct original research with potential to contribute to science and practice of leadership.

LLab welcomes scholars of all ages and experiences, from undergraduate students to full professors, who are passionate about creating positive change in and through leadership. LLab aspires to be the center of attraction to those who share the same passion.

LLab also wishes to be a repository of resources (e.g., articles, measures) for leadership scholars.

Zeynep Aycan is the Koç Holding Chair in Management & Strategy. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support to LLab research provided by this Chair. Aycan also expresses her gratitude to her mentors, Professors Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, Rabindra N. Kanungo, and Nancy J. Adler, for being such excellent role models as scientists and human beings. Let their wisdom be transferred to the next generation.

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