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Adjunct faculty

Brian Flanagan

Lecturer in Public Policy

Brian Flanagan is founder and principal at the Water’s Edge Leadership Institute. He is a trained coach, leadership development entrepreneur, and university lecturer.

He partners with clients to develop the three signature qualities of resilient leaders:

  • Clarity (self-awareness and personal vision)
  • Vitality (energy, passion, purpose)
  • Versatility (full-range leadership skills)

Brian’s work draws on emerging research and enduring wisdom. His methods were designed during a decade of work at one of the world’s most innovative business schools: the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

At Michigan Ross, Brian is chief evangelist of the Sanger Leadership Center. He served previously as founding managing director of the center (2012-20). In that capacity, he worked with key faculty and staff to grow a startup initiative into one of the top leadership centers in the world for broad and deep impact in the lives of college students.

He co-developed the Michigan Model of Leadership. Guiding a team of dedicated professionals, he launched innovative leadership development programs like Story Lab, Legacy Lab, and the Ross Leaders Academy that are now replicated by top business schools in 6 countries on 4 continents.

Brian also teaches at the University of Michigan. He is a lecturer in the Ford School of Public Policy, where he teaches his popular "Leadership Skills for Mission-Driven Organizations" course. At Ross, he’s a regular instructor in the school’s most innovative, action-based learning courses, including Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), the Living Business Leadership Experience, and Health Care Delivery in Emerging Markets.

Previously, Brian served at Grand Valley State University as associate director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and adjunct professor of public, nonprofit, and health administration. There, he founded the Cook Leadership Academy, Wheelhouse Talks, and Leadership University, an online platform that guides and showcases leadership learning. He managed leadership development for the Seidman College of Business’s full-time MBA program and taught leadership courses for public, nonprofit, and health administration students.

Brian is an avid reader and passionate, polymathic learner who holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Grand Valley State University. He received his coach training at the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) but owes his steepest learning curve to his wife, Lauren, and daughters, Ella and Avery.