Watch a pit crew work during the Indianapolis 500 race. They work with precision: juggling speed, safety and quality. What happens, however, when you increase speed? Will you sacrifice safety and quality, and is that sacrifice worth the impact on team performance?
These are among the questions professionals considered during the Tobias Fellows pit crew challenge.
“The pit crew challenge’s debrief provided the most powerful debrief conversation I have ever been part of,” said Tobias Fellow Joe White, vice president of school support at The Mind Trust. “It was incredibly powerful for our group to observe the unintended consequences of ambiguity within organizations and teams. As leaders, we make assumptions about what people think our expectations are, and many times fail to calibrate the outcomes we want to achieve.”
Tobias Fellow DeVonne Richburg, major gifts officer with the Eskenazi Health Foundation, also reflected on the challenge and the leadership lessons she learned from it.
“Through the pit crew challenge, I learned that teamwork for the greater good is possible. Positive thinking can actually be transferred by a leader to others and move freely throughout a team. Teamwork and positive thinking can actually help achieve the goal. The challenge was all about teamwork.”
“Leaders in the Tobias Fellows Program learn unbelievable insights from the pit crew challenge,” said Jim Flynn, associate director of the Tobias Leadership Center and clinical professor of management at the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI. “It is all about understanding how each person contributes to the overall goal of the team.”
In reflecting on the program thus far, Richburg says she’s learned to examine her leadership style and to take inventory of what leadership skills she’d like to further develop.
“I didn’t know I had a leadership style,” explained Richburg.
“What I’ve learned is that I set high expectations for myself and others; I don’t micromanage, and I set an example of hard work and preparedness. One of my goals in this program is to learn more ways to effectively empower and motivate others to make decisions, take initiative and share opinions in ways that provide them opportunities to learn, while ensuring quality work is produced.”
Over 10 months, Tobias Fellows, who are high-talent professionals from a wide variety of industries, meet for a 24-hour session to study a different element of leadership in order to enhance their leadership skills.
“The program places you on a road to self-discovery,” said Richburg.
“It truly connects you to the community and your peers, who all have different experiences and can add value to a discussion. I am grateful for the opportunity.”
The Tobias Fellows Program is currently recruiting. For more information, head to the website here.