Michigan Model of Leadership

At Sanger, our philosophy towards leader development is based on a few core assumptions:

Our Philosophy

Leadership is like reading or math – it comprises skills and behaviors that anyone can learn

Developing as a leader is a lifelong growth journey, where you make the most progress with a growth orientation, clear goals, intentional experiments (and acceptance of failures!), and lots of feedback

Leader development is its most effective when its data-driven, based on experiential and action-based learning, and integrated into each individual’s unique leadership learning journey

As such, we take pride in our programs offering a combination of experiential learning opportunities, action-based learning, and data-driven approaches to skill development that draw on both historical research strengths at Ross as well as the most cutting edge recent data and science on leadership.

Furthermore, we as a center are also on our own leadership journey, and are always eager for feedback from our stakeholders to help us continue to improve ourselves and our opportunities for future generations of leaders at Michigan.

What is the Michigan Model of Leadership?

Leadership Model

Michigan Model of Leadership diagram - Text version coming soon!

Our leadership curriculum is anchored by the Michigan Model of Leadership, a leadership framework which provides a lens to understand which leadership skills learners have already polished and which skills need improvement. The Michigan Model of Leadership is based on a half-century of empirical research and real-world practice. It simplifies enormous complexity by building on the Competing Values Framework (CVF), which was developed by Robert Quinn, Kim Cameron, and other Michigan faculty, and has been widely adopted by thousands of businesses and leaders around the world. The CVF is now the foundation for consulting practices, executive education courses, and numerous leadership development programs. In 2003, it was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the 40 most important management frameworks in history.

The CVF acknowledges a fundamental paradox of leadership that is tied to two key tensions found in all organizations, teams, and individuals:

the need to foster things like collaboration, harmony, and positive relationships (yellow)

the competing need to drive effort, goal achievement, and results (blue)

the urgency with which leaders must establish stability, control, and integration (red)

aggressively pursuing innovation, change, and learning (green)

Navigating these fundamental tensions and achieving the appropriate balance is the stuff of leadership.

The Michigan Model operates on three levels of analysis:

Mastering & Developing Yourself

“Know thyself” is one of the world’s oldest leadership tips, and it’s more relevant than ever in today’s complex, dynamic world. In fact, it is a cornerstone in the practice of emotional intelligence, authentic leadership, and other teachings aimed at helping professionals thrive in today’s world of work. At the same time, there’s growing recognition and a body of research demonstrating all the ways in which self-knowledge can become an anchor in the best and worst senses of the word. It provides the positive benefits associated with greater attunement to strengths, values, virtues, and higher calling, but if we become too rigid in our sense of self it can hold us back from change, learning, and growth.

Guided by a wealth of faculty research, the Michigan Model challenges us to become more authentic by developing our integrity (red) and purpose-centeredness (blue), while also driving our own evolution through generative connections with others (yellow) and lifelong experimentation and learning (green).

Practice Self-Mastery

Legacy Lab

Offered in the Fall and Winter semester, this series of two workshops is designed to help you unlock your personal capabilities and increase your influence. Legacy Lab is filled with reflective activities, powerful stories, and meaningful engagement with your peers.

student analyzing index cards

Model Levels

Empowering Peers & Employers

The term empowerment has been misused, misunderstood, and discarded in many circles. Yet we know from definitive research (and lived experience) that we can dramatically improve the performance of our organizations by simply increasing the number of people who act like owners: who shift out of the victim mentality, become problem solvers, take proactive action, and perform courageous acts of leadership.

The Michigan Model offers a clear, research-based approach for creating a more empowered work force. It requires leaders to offer continuous vision and challenge (blue), while also providing consistent guidance and support (yellow); give the gifts of flexibility and broad discretion (green), along with the clarity, resources, safety, and security (red) that build confidence and enable creative action.

Lead in a Safe Environment

Leadership Crisis Challenge

Crisis Challenge is an action-based learning experience which creates opportunities for you to work on a multi-disciplinary team to solve a business and media crisis. You’ll have the opportunity to empower your team as you create a strategy to tackle the crisis, receiving feedback from experts along the way.

Students presenting in conference room

Building Team and Organizations

Once people are empowered, leadership in teams and organizations can become a more shared enterprise. We are no longer limited to traditional, centralized, top-down leadership approaches. Instead, leadership can be distributed or truly shared. The latest theories suggest that the magnitude and volume of leadership occurring in teams has an enormous impact on results. In other words, if more people are acting like leaders more of the time, we achieve greater levels of success. Together, we can work to create teams, organizations, and cultures that are highly:

  • Creative and forward-looking, enabling change, innovation, and growth (green)
  • Structure and process-oriented, giving attention to stability, efficiency, and alignment (red)
  • Connected and collaborative, promoting teamwork, cohesion, and talent development (yellow)
  • Focused and results-oriented, driving competition, task completion, and goal achievement (blue)

Change Your Mindset

Ross Leaders Academy

The Ross Leaders Academy is our premier leadership development community for select students across campus. During the course of the year, you’ll make leadership development a primary focus. You’ll learn from a diverse set of peers, receive team executive coaching, and engage with 30+ years of powerful research and ideology.

student analyzing index cards