Susan Ashford

Michael & Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations; Management and Organizations Group Chair, University of Michigan 

Susan (Sue) Ashford is the Michael & Susan Jandernoa Professorship in Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business. She was previously on the faculty of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and received her MS and PhD degrees from Northwestern University.

Harvard Business ReviewThe Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, Fast Company, and New York Magazine have all highlighted Sue’s research in articles featuring the strategies middle managers use to sell their ideas in organizations and the strategies of those who work independently or outside of organizations use to create a viable and vital work life; and how leaders cope with the risks in leading and keep a growth mindset in crises. Her leadership research is featured in Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast podcast and her gig-worker research is highlighted in both Adam Grant’s WorkLife and Stew Friedman’s Work and Life podcasts. A number of top academic outlets have published her research on leadership development and leader effectiveness, middle management voice and issue selling, job insecurity, and individual proactivity. Sue’s research supported an acclaimed popular book published in 2021. Titled, The Power of Flexing: How to use small daily experiments to achieve big, life-changing growth, Sue’s book has been useful to everyone from new college graduates entering the work world for the first time, those facing the new world of retirement and people facing all kinds of challenges in between!

In 2002, Sue was named a Fellow of the Academy of Management, and in 2017 she was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Scholarly Contributions to Management. She received the OB division of the Academy of Management’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2020 and was named a Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 2024.

Sue has held a variety of leadership positions at Michigan Ross. She served as the chair of the Management and Organizations group from 2015 – 2021, as the school’s Senior Associate Dean from 1998 to 2002, and as the Associate Dean for Leadership Programming and the Executive MBA from 2006 to 2010. She led the establishment of the school’s Executive MBA program and was the faculty director of that program from 2002 to 2012. She also led the establishment of the Ross Leadership Initiative (now Sanger Leadership Center) and served as its faculty director from 2006 to 2010.

Sue’s passion is using her teaching and research to help people be maximally effective in their work settings, with an emphasis on self-leadership, proactivity, change from below, and leadership and its development. Her classes at Michigan Ross focus on negotiation skills in the Executive MBA program, a capstone leadership course in the Weekend MBA program, and the Emerging Leaders Program in Ross’ Executive Education program. She also teaches for the “Leading Women Executives” program for the Corporate Leadership Center, the “Ascending to the C-Suite” program for Inforum, and for various companies.


Session: How to Help Very Busy People Grow – Including Yourself

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