Organizational Leadership

A “Michigan man” or a Michigan “type man”

Bo Schembechler was not a “Michigan man” when he took the head coaching job at the University of Michigan. Meaning he had no prior relationship with the university as a student, player or coach. But no doubt in the minds of Michigan fans and alumni he turned out to be the model Michigan man and the measure of all subsequent coaches. As a matter of fact he’s the person who coined, or at least made popular, the phrase “Michigan man” when he was athletic director.

The problem with much of the media and fan discussion about their next head coach is that it’s centered on the idea that Michigan needs a Michigan man. If this was the line of reasoning in 1969 Bo would never have become the Michigan coach. What Michigan needs is a Michigan “type man”. One who fits the culture of Michigan and will deliver on the goals of the football program.

At SpringHill building and maintaining our unique culture is one of our highest priorities. We look for people who fit our culture and have the gifts and abilities to help advance our mission. We want a SpringHill “type person” not particularly a “SpringHill person.”

This is an important distinction for a number of reasons. First, our goal is to always to hire the very best person available for any job we have open. This requires the largest candidate pool reasonably possible. The “SpringHill person” pool can be too small and limiting.

Secondly, sometimes hiring a person who fits our culture but has no SpringHill experience allows us to have new ideas and perspectives brought into the organization. It would be arrogant to think we have nothing to learn from folks who have never been “SpringHill people”.

The one exception is when filling the top position in an organization. That person should come from within “the family”. Jim Collins advocates this in his book “Good to Great.” By the way in Michigan’s case the head football coach is not the leader of the University or even the athletic department thus this exception doesn’t apply.

So as a life long Michigan fan and steward of our family’s season tickets I want the best fit and qualified football coach available. Using this hiring approach works for many quality organizations including SpringHill and even once worked for the University of Michigan.


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