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Broad College, MSU Athletics are winning partnership in team leadership program

Management faculty from the Broad College of Business partnered with Michigan State University Athletics’ coaching staff to put on Building Winning Teams: A Quest for Excellence May  15–17. The three-day program helped more than 20 business professionals develop sustainable leadership and team effectiveness skills that will be useful in their roles as managers and help them contribute to their teams’ success.

Cindy Devers presents a lesson on change management during Building Winning Teams.
Cindy Devers presents a lesson on change management during Building Winning Teams.

Each day of the program began in the Henry Center for Executive Development with lessons in effective leadership and team-building led by management professors. Interactive sessions followed, during which MSU coaches reflected on coaching moments that highlighted key concepts of the program, for example, creating winning cultures. Before concluding each day with a networking session, participants travelled to an MSU athletic facility to apply their new knowledge and skills in team-based activities.

Throughout the lessons, Broad faculty shared their research on leadership and team building with attendees. John Hollenbeck, professor of management and University Distinguished Professor, discussed designing teams and understanding organizational culture, while Gerry McNamara, professor of management, taught lessons on team decision-making. During management professor Fred Morgeson’s presentation on team composition, participants learned about selecting and recruiting top talent. They also had the opportunity to hear Don Conlon, Eli Broad Professor of Management, speak about process management with regard to conflict and negotiation. Cindy Devers, associate professor of management, led the final session on change management, directly focusing on resistance and renewal.

The program and partnership were originally imagined by faculty members in the Department of Management. “As a professor who has written scholarly books and articles that deal with leadership and team dynamics, it is remarkable how often the coaches in top programs such as these make statements and tell compelling stories that totally reflect what is written in the academic knowledge base,” Hollenbeck explains. “Even though the professors and coaches approach these topics from very different angles, they almost always arrive at the same place.”

Building Winning Teams marks the first time the Broad College has collaborated in this way with the Athletics staff. The combined expertise of Broad’s professors and MSU’s coaches enabled attendees to gain critical skills in engaging, enlisting, and fostering effective collaboration; creating a team culture of adaptability and innovation; making quick decisions in hyper-competitive environments; and positioning teams for long-term success.

Visit or to view a video produced by MSU Athletics that gives the coaches’ perspective and shows footage from the program.

Additional photos from the program can be found on Facebook.

Team members use a breakout session to work together.
Team members use a breakout session to work together.


Participants celebrate one another's success during a team-based activity.
Participants celebrate one another’s success during a team-based activity.

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