Teaching Leadership Through Sports

From the football field and basketball court to the corporate boardroom and executive suite, a new University of Michigan executive education program will teach business leadership through lessons learned in U-M sports.

Leaders and Best: Winning the Leadership Game is an innovative six-day program (June 24-29) for senior business leaders offered by Michigan Ross Executive Education and the U-M Athletics Department that will combine U-M’s rich traditions of leadership excellence in academics and athletics.

The program will feature U-M athletic director David Brandon, football coach Brady Hoke, basketball coach John Beilein and softball coach Carol Hutchins, who will share the thinking behind their winning strategies and explain what it takes to lead high-performing teams when the stakes are high. They will be joined by former U-M football coach Lloyd Carr, former football player Desmond Howard and Zingerman’s founder Ari Weinzweig, among others.

Top leadership experts from the Michigan Ross School of Business will lead the program: Kim Cameron, associate dean of Michigan Ross Executive Education and the William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations; Scott DeRue, assistant professor of management and organizations and co-director of the Ross Leadership Initiative; and Bob Quinn, professor of business administration and management and organizations.

They will teach sessions on positive leadership, positive energy resilience, business and sports translation, the leader as coach, fundamentals of leadership, leaving a leadership legacy and more.

“With the most successful college football team in U.S. history and a deep lineup of nationally acclaimed varsity sports, the all-star coaches at the University of Michigan define leadership,” Cameron said in a statement. “Michigan’s unique approach to positive business and organizational leadership coupled with the opportunity to be taught by coaches who have produced world-class performance is an opportunity that no senior leader should miss.”

Participants—high-level executives and senior members of large companies and organizations, as well as high-performing small-business owners—will explore new strategies and approaches to build a culture of excellence and accountability, lead turnarounds and transformations in times of crisis, inspire top performers to buy into new ways of doing things, take on fierce competitors and produce winning results amidst adversity and change.

“We are excited to partner with our world-class Ross Business School for a leadership program that includes the involvement of some of our Athletic Department’s highly successful staff and coaches,” said Brandon, director of athletics, in a statement. “We will share leadership concepts and team-building strategies that are used to prepare our teams for big-time college sports competition at the national level.”

The program will include interactive learning and exclusive access to Michigan’s renowned athletic facilities, including team activities, game-play enactments and leadership self-analyses at Michigan Stadium, Alumni Field and the Crisler Center. In addition, U-M Athletics fitness and nutrition experts will lead health and wellness activities.

“As a former collegiate athlete, I understand first-hand the valuable business leadership lessons that can be gained through elite-level sports. And at the University of Michigan, we have some of the best collegiate athletics coaches and business faculty in the world,” said Melanie Barnett, chief executive education officer. “Michigan Ross is a world leader in action learning, and with this program we’re taking it one step further. We’re reinventing how executive education is delivered and providing tools and experiences that will be meaningful and transformative for those who participate.”

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