Dave Ulrich

David Olson Ulrich
Born 1953
Ely, Nevada, USA
Alma mater Brigham Young University
Occupation Professor,[1] Management Consultant, Author, Speaker

David Olson Ulrich (born 1953) is a university professor, author, speaker, management coach, and management consultant. Ulrich is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business,[1] University of Michigan and co-founder of The RBL Group.<.[2] He has written 23 books covering topics in human resources and leadership, including his latest book, The Why of Work [1]. Ulrich is currently on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller, a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources, and is on the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University.[3]

Ulrich emphasizes defining organizations through the capabilities they possess. His work has helped define and shape key capabilities such as change, learning, collaboration, accountability, talent, service, innovation, and efficiency. The outcomes of leadership and HR are the capabilities that an organization possesses that deliver value to customers, investors, and communities.

Although he has been involved in large-scale research projects, most of his writing is characterized by synthesizing complex ideas into frameworks and tools that executives can use. He is a well-traveled speaker, working with groups of all sizes where he is known for engaging the participants, helping to translate the ideas into actions that work for them. His motto is that good teaching is not what he knows, but how his knowledge helps participants do what they do better.

Dave Ulrich has been ranked the #1 Management Educator & Guru by BusinessWeek [4] , selected by Fast Company[5] as one of the 10 most innovative and creative leaders, and named the most influential person in HR by HR Magazine for three years.


Early life and work

Ulrich was born in the small town of Ely, Nevada, but grew up in Oregon. His father worked as a forester building campgrounds, then transferred in order to direct social programs for Job Corps. His mother spent time in church and community service. From his parents, he learned the importance of service and the value of hard work. The Ulrich family lived subsequently in Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended high school.

Ulrich attended Brigham Young University where he completed his undergraduate degree in University Studies in five semesters and began graduate school in Organizational Behavior. He completed his doctorate in business at UCLA.

In 1982, Ulrich began teaching at the University of Michigan where he taught in the MBA program and in executive education. He currently teaches full time in Executive Education.

Research and career

Dave Ulrich’s professional focus has addressed questions on how organizations add value to customers and investors through both leadership and strategic human resource practices. In the human resource area, he and his colleagues have worked to redefine and upgrade HR. With his colleagues Wayne Brockbank and Jon Younger, Ulrich has articulated how the modern HR organization can be organized into shared services, centers of expertise, and business partners.[6] He has also co-directed research on over 40,000 respondents about the competencies required for successful HR professionals;[7] in addition, he has helped shape thinking on how to transform HR practices so that they are aligned to customer needs and integrated around organization capabilities.[8] In the leadership area, Norm Smallwood and Ulrich have worked to focus on the outcomes of effective leadership;[9] they have also shown how leadership will increase customer share by creating a leadership brand within the company.[10] Their work also illustrates that investing in leadership will increase shareholder value.[11] Their work also synthesizes the thicket of leadership competency models into a unified view of leadership.[12] Their current work attempts to look at leadership through the eyes and expectations of investors.

Honors and awards


  • Kirk Englehardt Exemplary Business Ethics Award from Utah Valley University


  • Listed in Thinkers 50 as management thought leader
  • Listed as the most influential person in HR by HR Magazine


  • Listed as the most influential person in HR by HR Magazine.


  • Listed as the most influential person in HR by HR Magazine.
  • Awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Workplace Learning and Performance by the American Society for Training and Development.
  • Awarded Honorary Doctorate from University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland for outstanding achievements in business strategy and research.


  • Most influential person in HR by HR Magazine.


  • Selected by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative and creative leaders.


  • Ranked as No. 2 among management thinkers by Executive Excellence in 2004.


  • Ranked by BusinessWeek as No. 1 management educator and guru


  • George Petitpas Memorial Award from World Federation of Personnel Management for lifetime contributions to human resource profession.
  • Listed in Forbes as one of the "world's top five" business coaches.
  • Society of Human Resource Management Book of the Year award for Results-Based Leadership.


  • Award for Professional Excellence for lifetime contributions for intellectual leadership of the profession from Society for Human Resource Management.
  • International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment lifetime achievement award.
  • Employment Management Associ


  • Warner W. Stockberger Achievement Award by International Personnel Management Association to "recognize an individual in private or public life who has made a contribution toward improvement of public personnel management at any level of government."


  • The Pro Meritus Award from the Employment Management Association for "outstanding contribution to the human resources field."


  • Elected Fellow, National Academy of Human Resources.


  • Listed in BusinessWeek in 1993 as one of the "top ten" global executive educators.


  • Awarded "paper of the year" award by Human Resource Planning Society.


  • Awarded "researcher of the year" award by Society for Human Resource Management.


  • The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win, with Wendy Ulrich 2010 (ISBN 9780071739351).
  • HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the Outside In, with Justin Allen, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mark Nyman, 2009 (ISBN 9780071638708).
  • HR Competencies: Mastery at the Intersection of People and Business, with Wayne Brockbank, Dani Johnson, Kurt Sandholtz, and Jon Younger, 2008 (ISBN 9781586441135).
  • Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance And Build Lasting Value with Norm Smallwood, published September 2007 (ISBN 9781422110300).
  • FYI for Strategic Effectiveness: Aligning People and Operational Practices to Strategy with Robert W. Eichinger and Kim E. Ruyle, published January 2007 (ISBN 1933578068).
  • 50 More Things You Need to Know (Volume 2): The Science behind Best People Practices for Managers and HR Professionals with Robert W. Eichinger, John Kulas, and Ken De Meuse, published January 2007 (ISBN 1933578084).
  • How Leaders Build Value: Using People, Organization and Other Intangibles to Get Bottom-Line Results with Norm Smallwood, published March 2006 (ISBN 047176079X).
  • The HR Value Proposition with Wayne Brockbank, published June 2005 (ISBN 1591397073).
  • Future of Human Resource Management: 64 Thought Leaders Explore the Critical HR Issues of Today and Tomorrow with Michael Losey and Sue Meisinger, published June 2005 (ISBN 0471677914).
  • The Change Champion's Fieldguide: Strategies and Tools for Leading Change in Your Organization with Louis Carter, Marshall Goldsmith, Jim Bolt, and Norm Smallwood, published June 2003 (ISBN 0974038806).
  • Why the Bottom Line Isn't: How to Build Value Through People and Organization with Norm Smallwood, published April 2003 (ISBN 047144510X).
  • Best Practices in Leadership Development and Organization Change: How the Best Companies Ensure Meaningful Change and Sustainable Leadership with Louis Carter and Marshall Goldsmith, published December 2004 (ISBN 0787976253).
  • Human Resources Business Process Outsourcing: Transforming How HR Gets Its Work Done with Edward E. Lawler, Jac Fitz-enz, James Madden, and Regina Maruca, published August 2004 (ISBN 0787971634).
  • 100 Things You Need to Know: Best Practices for Managers and HR with Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger, published January 2004 (ISBN 0974589209).
  • GE Workout with Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas, published March 2002 (ISBN 0071384162).
  • HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance with Brian Becker and Mark Huselid, published January 2001 (ISBN 1578511364).
  • Results Based Leadership: How Leaders Build the Business and Improve the Bottom Line with Norm Smallwood and Jack Zenger, published December 2000 (ISBN 9781578513192).
  • Organizational Learning Capability: Generating and Generalizing Ideas with Impact with Arthur K. Yeung, Stephen W. Nason, Mary A. Von Glinow, published January 1999 (ISBN 0195102045).
  • Delivering Results: A New Mandate for Human Resource Professionals, January 1998 (ISBN 0875848699).
  • Tomorrow's HR Management: 48 Thought Leaders Call for Change with Michael R. Losey and Gerry Lake, published September 1997 (ISBN 0471197149).
  • Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering Results, published January 1997 (ISBN 0875847196).
  • The Boundaryless Organization: Breaking the Chains of Organization Structure with Ron Ashkenas, Steve Kerr, and Todd Jick, published September 1995 (ISBN 078790113X).
  • Organizational Capability: Competing from the Inside Out with Dale Lake, published September 1990 (ISBN 0471618071).



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