By: Shane Simmons
It’s been more than a decade since the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence opened its doors to the Indianapolis community.
Professionals who engage with the Tobias Leadership Center are molded and fine-tuned, developing leadership skills they will carry with them throughout their personal and professional lives. Founded by Randall L. Tobias, the former president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, the Tobias Leadership Center partners with four schools on both the IUPUI and Bloomington campuses, including Kelley School of Business, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, School of Education and School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
One of the Tobias Center’s most notable successes: the Hoosier Fellows Program. Each year the center selects senior executives to engage as Hoosier Fellows. Although the fellows arrive with high-level skills and broad experience, they seek additional dimensions to their leadership journey.
The 2017 cohort of Hoosier Fellows consists of executives from the non-profit, for-profit, public and academic sectors.. Julie Manning Magid, director of the Tobias Leadership Center, notes that this is the only research institution-based leadership program to promote critical multi-sector perspective and to train deliberately on the systemic and long term results of addressing problems through multiple lenses.
“The Hoosier Fellows Program is designed to be very intesive and experimental, rather than theoretical,” said Larry Smith, managing director for the Tobias Center.
Staying true to those beliefs, the Hoosier Fellows Program is designed to instill and enhance leadership skills of a small group of high-potential leaders through a 10-month study of leadership.
Throughout the year, fellows meet for two days each month – with the exception of July and August – becoming exposed to team building activities and mentors. Some of the leadership topics throughout the 10-month program include: the sport of leadership, ethics in leadership, charismatic leadership and storytelling for leaders.
When asked, Smith pointed to two experiences that offer discrete, but related, lessons: military leadership and Benedictine leadership.
“Every year, we take the fellows to Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh, IN. We teach fellows the latest methods the military uses to train leaders,” Smith explained.
“The military has made a significant investment in particular types of simulations that are extremely realistic. There are some pretty intense simulations that really give someone the feel for what it’s like to have to make decisions in highly-stressful situations,” Smith said.
Ultimately, the mental exercise takes fellows out of their comfort zone, and it instills attributes that may be needed in chaotic situations in their personal or professional lives.
In a more self-reflective – and often times more emotional – exercise, fellows attend two days with the monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
“While at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, the fellows are briefed by three monks on three particular areas,” explained Smith. “During one of the sessions, the fellows have an opportunity to reflect on their lives and what they believe they’ve accomplished, and for a lot of people, this time becomes extremely emotional.”
The benefits of such experiences have a ripple effect in the communities the Hoosier Fellows serve, Smith said. Upon successful completion of the Hoosier Fellows program, alumni become members of the Tobias Leadership Network with ongoing interaction and leadership opportunities.
“The Tobias Leadership Network has 165 members who are from all walks of life. We’re proud to say that our members are touching the lives of thousands of people every day, and not just in Indiana, but all around the country.”
Other programs include The Leadership Lunch, Leadership Engagement and Discovery (LEAD) Conference, and the Hazelett Forum.
Welcome to the 2017 Hoosier Fellows cohort:
Leslie Arena – Angie’s List
Paul Dicken – Citizen’s Energy Group
Dr. John Dietz – OrthoIndy
Jackie Dowd – Lilly Endowment
Louonna Kachur – Early Learning Indiana
Diana Keely – Girl Scouts of Central Indiana
Jennifer Kerr – Cook Research, Inc.
Marissa Kiefer – Riley Children’s Health
Hon. Maggie Lewis – City-County Council of Marion County and Indianapolis
Denise Luster – United Way of Central Indiana
Angela Michael – Independent Executive
Dawn Sykes-Randle – Indianapolis Fire Department
Neal Rothermel – VMS BioMarketing
Rabbi Dennis Sasso – Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Ali Slocum – Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky
Angela Smith – IU Kokomo
Patrick Walsh – Duke Realty