Dave Ulrich Profile

Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Dave Ulrich is a student of the ways in which organizations build leadership, speed, learning, accountability and talent through effective deployment of their human resources.

A partner at the RBL Group, Ulrich’s award-winning databases are much sought after for the lights that they shed on the alignment between strategies, organization capabilities, HR practices, HR competencies and value both for customers and investors.

Ulrich has published more than 25 books along with over 200 articles and book chapters. He has edited Human Resource Management and served on the editorial board of four journals. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller, the Board of Trustees at Southern Virginia University and he is a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.

The recipient of many prestigious awards throughout his career, Ulrich’s honors include a Lifetime Leadership Award from the Leadership Forum, a Lifetime Achievement Award from HR Magazine which cited him as “father of modern human resources,” a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Training and Development, an honorary doctorate from the University of Abertay in Scotland and a listing in Forbes magazine as one of the top five business coaches in the world. HR Magazine has frequently ranked him as the most influential person in human resources in the USA.

  • View Extended/Alternate Bio

    Dave Ulrich is a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group ( a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He studies how organizations build capabilities of leadership, speed, learning, accountability, and talent through leveraging human resources. He has helped generate ward winning data bases that assess alignment between strategies, organization capabilities, HR practices, HR competencies, and customer and investor results.

    He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 25 books. He edited Human
    Resource Management 1990-1999, served on editorial board of 4 Journals, on the Board of
    Directors for Herman Miller, and Board of Trustees at Southern Virginia University, and is a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources. Honors include:

        • 2013:

        • Lifetime Leadership Award from the Leadership Forum at Silver Bay
          Listed in Thinkers 50 as a management thought leader


        • Lifetime Achievement Award from HR Magazine for being the “father of modern human resources”


        • Ranked #1 most influential international thought leader in HR by HR Magazine
        • Listed in Thinkers 50 as a management thought leader
        • Ranked in Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Leadership Behavior


        • Nobels Colloquia Prize for Leadership on Business and Economic Thinking
        • Lifetime Fellowship in Australia Human Resources Institute (AHRI)
        • Ranked #1 most influential international thought leader in HR by HR Magazine
        • Kirk Englehardt Exemplary Business Ethics Award from Utah Valley University
        • Why of Work (co-authored with Wendy Ulrich) was #1 best seller for Wall Street Journal and USA today


        • Listed in Thinkers 50 as a management thought leader
        • Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine


        • Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine


        • Lifetime Achievement Award from American Society of Training and Development (ASTD)
        • Honorary Doctorate from University of Abertey, at Dundee Scotland


        • Ranked #1 most influential person in HR by HR Magazine in vote by influential HR thinkers
        • Dyer Distinguished Alumni Award from Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Management


        • Ranked #2 management guru by Executive Excellence
        • Named by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative and creative thinkers of 2005


        • President, Canada Montreal Mission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


        • Ranked #1 management educator and guru by Business Week


        • Lifetime achievement award from World Federation of Personnel Management
        • Listed in Forbes as one of the “world’s top five” business coaches


        • Society for Human Resource Management award for Professional Excellence for lifetime contributions
        • Lifetime achievement (PRO) award from International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment, and Employment Management Association


      • Warner W. Stockberger Lifetime Achievement Award from International Personnel Management Association

    He has consulted and done research with over half of the Fortune 200.

Dave Ulrich Speaking Videos

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Dave Ulrich's Speech Descriptions

Dave Ulrich offers a variety of customized presentations on leadership and human resources.

In his leadership presentations, Ulrich offers talks backed with intensive in-depth research undertaken by the RBL Group; he examines topics such as: ethics, value building, personal proficiency, your personal brand and the future of leadership.

In his human resources presentations, Ulrich uses research from RBL in combination with the University of Michigan and HR associations globally, to analyze the characteristics of the very best HR professionals and leaders. He shows how to recruit, retain and develop talent, how to use human resource strategies and how to measure their impact.


What We′ve Learned from Fortune′s Top Companies for Leaders

Every two years, the RBL Group co-sponsors (with Hewitt) the Top Companies for Leaders study that is published in Fortune magazine. The results are tabulated for global and regional companies. What’s different about the companies that are recognized for building the best leaders in the world?

Ensuring Ethics

Many of the most significant management and social problems derive less from a crisis of talent than from a crisis of ethics. The ethics of leadership is the critical factor that inspires trust and loyalty in employees and customers. We must develop the ability to recognize the unanticipated ethical implications of all management decisions and actions.

How Leaders Build Value

Market value is comprised of two parts--earnings and intangibles. Intangible value is the confidence that investors have in your business compared to other businesses in the same industry. Learn the four steps that guide wealth-creating leaders as they increase stakeholder confidence in the future.

Increasing Personal Proficiency

Ultimately, your ability to lead others begins with yourself. What does it mean to be prepared to lead? Leaders who are grounded in their values and beliefs, emotionally mature in their knowledge of themselves and their response to changing circumstances, curious and eager to learn and improve, and able to nurture themselves while maintaining a passion for what they do are able to inspire others to greater effectiveness. Building individual resources for personal proficiency is critical for overall leadership effectiveness.

Leadership Brand

Leadership Brand occurs when an organization is recognized both internally and externally as a leader feeder firm- an exporter of talent. Market share increases because investors have confidence that current and future results will be achieved the right way. When a company has leadership brand leaders at every level ensure that employees deliver the desired customer experience every time anywhere in the world.

Leadership Code

If you Google the word "leader" there are 176 million hits. What does it all mean? Why are there so many conflicting theories about what effective leaders must do? The Leadership Code synthesizes years of research to build a unified theory of leadership, and explains 60-70% of what makes a leader in any company or industry effective.

Leadership Pipeline

Leaders must develop in specific ways as they move through the leadership pipeline. Promoting the best technical expert to a management role often results in “losing a good engineer (or sales person, or IT contributor, or whatever) and getting a lousy manager.” Learn what skills, knowledge, and perspectives must shift as leaders move through the pipeline.

Results Based Leadership

Much of current leadership practice is focused on developing leadership competencies. In Results-Based Leadership we argue that this is half right. The other half of effective leadership is delivering the right results to organization stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, and line leaders.

What′s Next in Leadership?

For the last fifty years, leadership has been framed as how the individual leader builds the right mix of competencies to implement strategy. We see two trends for the next steps in leadership. The first trend is to consider both individual and organizational issues-- we need individual leaders and we also need an organization capability to build future leadership. The second trend is the need to deliver on both internal and external issues. Leaders must execute business strategy (internal), and they also must create investor and customer confidence in the future (external). The intersection of these trends-- building an organization capability that creates confidence in external stakeholders--is what we call Leadership Brand.


Developing HR Professionals and Leaders

For the past 20 years, RBL principals--together with the support of the University of Michigan and HR associations around the world--have studied HR professional and leadership competence. What are the competencies of top performing HR professionals and leaders? And what are the practices that deliver top performance and development?

Developing Talent

Talent management is the issue of the next decade. But it′s not as simple as the finding and retaining of high potential employees. RBL research points out that great companies like GE, P&G, and United Technologies get 10 things right in building superior talent engines and the reputation that makes them magnets for talent.

Differentiated Workforce

In strategy implementation it’s critical to know what are the true wealth-creating positions that must be in place for growth and profitability. High performing organizations know their “A” positions not only their “A” players.

Future of HR

The RBL Group has a global vantage point from which to assess key trends and developments in HR strategy, priority, and professionalism. How are CEO expectations changing? And how are the most innovative HR leaders changing the practice of human resource management?

HR Business Partnership

What does great HR business partnership look like? What do HR business partners do differently? RBL has focused considerable attention on the skills and behavior that define and differentiate outstanding HR business partners, and developed a very clear framework for both assessment and developing business partner competence.

HR Strategy and Strategic HR

We see the role of HR as creating value for the business and helping business leaders convert customer expectations into employee actions. How do the best HR departments do this? What practices make the difference in ensuring that HR is an essential and powerful contributor to the achievement of business strategy?

HR Transformation

What is the best process for transforming HR? In our new book, RBL principals lay out a disciplined approach to ensuring that the HR department creates the greatest possible value to business performance, defines clear goals and roles, and manages the change process effectively and efficiently.

Measuring the Impact of HR

Some measurements are easy: cost, number of people who receive training, process improvements, and how quickly problems are resolved. But these measures don’t tell us whether HR is making a strategic contribution. How do you assess the impact of HR on the real bottom line: growth, profitability, and satisfying customers?

What People are Saying about Seeing Dave Speak

Rating Entries

“David delivers value in the Business and HR world. His research and data are excellent and his presentation style is not only very informative but also funny.”
Arizona HR Executive Forum
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“The time and effort you put in prior to the meeting to make sure your presentation was on target certainly produced solid results. You went the extra mile and that was truly appreciated by our attendees.”
Cynthia Mills, National Arborist Association

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Books by Dave Ulrich:

Leadership in Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies From Top Global Leaders

Bestselling author and BusinessWeek‘s number one Management Educator, Dave Ulrich, brings together a powerhouse team of contributors to provide a concise guidebook to cutting-edge trends in leadership at emerging Pacific Rim companies.

The region’s top business and academic experts—Gerald Chan of UBS Singapore, Girija Pande of Tata Consultancy Services, and Arthur Yeung from the China Europe International Business School, among others—guide you through the critical, and often paradoxical, challenges of developing human capital into effective leaders of companies in Asia. Individually written chapters are brought to life by a wealth of revealing examples from each author’s own experiences, as well as illustrative charts and graphs that offer a clear picture of how these strategies work in the real world.

Through firsthand guidance from these leaders on the front lines of human capital and leadership development, Leadership in Asia shows you how to:

  • Respect and work within family-centric enterprises while creating professional organizations
  • Recognize bureaucratic, hierarchical, and political complexity while creating flexible, agile, and simple organizations
  • Maintain grace, courtesy, and an Asian style while taking risks and demanding strong performance

    Tomorrow’s leaders will respond more rapidly to change and will have better responses to paradoxes. Leadership in Asia presents a survey of how these future leaders are being developed in one of the world’s most important sectors.

    The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance
    As human capital takes center stage in today’s economy, the HR profession has been charged with shifting its emphasis from administrative cost center to active partner in helping firms to implement strategy. But beyond recruitment and compensation, what does HR actually do to help firms succeed?

    Now, three experts in the field introduce a measurement system that convincingly showcases how HR impacts business performance. Drawing from the authors’ ongoing study of nearly 3,000 firms, this book describes a seven-step process for embedding HR systems within the firm’s overall strategy—what the authors describe as an HR Scorecard—and measuring its activities in terms that line managers and CEOs will find compelling.

    Analyzing how each element of the HR system can be designed to enhance firm performance and maximize the overall quality of human capital, this important book heralds the emergence of HR as a strategic powerhouse in today’s organizations.

    The HR Value Proposition
    “The international bestseller Human Resource Champions helped HR professionals become more strategic players in their organizations. Now, as transactional activities like payroll and benefits administration are being increasingly automated and outsourced, the time is ripe for HR professionals to validate—and expand—this strategic role.”

    “To make this happen, HR thought leaders Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank argue that HR professionals must evaluate their value as created in the eyes of stakeholders—customers and investors as well as managers and employees. They must focus less on what they do and more on what they deliver. And they must build value-added HR practices and competencies that align with and help accomplish strategic goals.” The HR Value Proposition offers an actionable blueprint for how HR can make this transformation.

    Drawing on an eighteen-year global study of more than twenty-nine thousand HR professionals and line managers, Ulrich and Brockbank identify the fourteen HR criteria that have the greatest impact on value creation and outline what HR must do to build them.

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