Section Image: Mary Uhl-Bien at the white board while teaching

Professor Mary Uhl-Bien Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Management

The Network of Leadership Scholars selected Uhl-Bien as the 2023 Eminent Leadership Scholar Award recipient in recognition of her three decades of acclaimed leadership research. Uhl-Bien was presented the award before industry leaders at this Academy of Management annual conference this summer.

August 28, 2023

By Eric Butterman

Mary Uhl-Bien, the BNSF Railway Endowed Professor of Leadership and newly named chair of TCU Neeley’s Management and Leadership department, received a lifetime achievement honor from the Academy of Management. She was recently presented with the Network of Leadership Scholars 2023 Eminent Leadership Scholar Award.

“It is a thrill as this is the highest honor in my profession,” Uhl-Bien said. “When I started out, my goal was to make a difference in leadership. There have been many twists in the subject over the years, including COVID, and I feel honored to do research in this area for as many years as I have.”

Mary Uhl-Bien teaching class

The Academy of Management’s Network of Leadership Scholars, which Uhl-Bien helped found, is a leadership professional organization with 10,000 members. The annual AOM conference was held in Boston this summer, where Uhl-Bien was honored. The award followed Uhl-Bien receiving an honorary doctorate from the Copenhagen Business School earlier this summer.

“The Eminent Leadership Scholar Award recognizes consistent advancement in academic research, a lifetime of achievement, and the embodiment of exemplary leadership skills that Mary freely shares with students and her colleagues,” said Hettie Richardson, interim dean for the TCU Neeley School of Business.  “To say that Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien deserves this special recognition is an understatement. It is an honor to celebrate her and all she continues to accomplish.”

Uhl-Bien may be most noted for her theory work, which includes renowned relational leadership theory and complex adaptive system theory.

She cites her work as truly beginning when she taught at the EMBA level at the University of Central Florida. At that time, she was also consulting for Fortune 500 companies and saw evidence that signaled a need for greater focus on leadership research with the direction business was heading.

“From learning to be adaptive to understanding how to truly define leadership, it’s an exciting area which keeps changing with the times,” Uhl-Bien said.

The committee which chose Uhl-Bien for the lifetime achievement award described her as vital to where leadership has been and where it is going.

“Mary is an incredible research scholar. For three decades, she has broken new ground in leadership research,” said Bradley Kirkman, General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University, who chaired the committee that selected Uhl-Bien for the Eminent Leadership Scholarship honor.

This semester, Uhl-Bien is also taking on a new leadership role at TCU Neeley as the chair for the Management and Leadership department.

“I have taken a different approach than most theorists, focusing more on thought leadership than publishing,” Uhl-Bien said. “TCU is much more open and you receive research support without publishing pressure. It’s a very nurturing environment and TCU has been instrumental in my thriving and taking work to its fruition. The department chair position allows me to greater drive leadership change, especially in a time of complexities which include what will come with artificial intelligence becoming more a part of our world. I feel so fortunate to have this three-year appointment.”

Photo: Mary Uhl-Bien

Mary Uhl-Bien

Chair, Management and Leadership Department
BNSF Railway Endowed Professor of Leadership
Management and Leadership Department

Neeley 3313