Institute for Excellence Individual Contributors Sample Curriculum 2020-21


Overview and Objectives

The Institute for Excellence for Individual Contributors – will accelerate performance through:

  • Increasing personal excellence 
  • Aligning personal leadership within Kent State University

The design of this intensive, highly focused program is based on vision, mission, and leadership imperatives to build and lead a customer-focused institution. This program combines interaction with internal and external leaders and leadership theory and research along with action learning to practice and transfer what he/she has learned in the institute.

Individual benefits of participating include:

(a)  Increases institutional knowledge through open dialogue

(b)  Results in higher levels of emotional intelligence, resiliency and effective leadership

(c)  Provides strategies for building trust, motivating and engaging teams and strong communication skills; and

(d)  Results in an increased capacity to step out, reach out, speak out, collaborate with others and make things happen.


The Institute for Excellence for Individual Contributors 2018-19 will address the following ten competencies for Leaders as suggested by the Center for Creative Leadership.


Learning Agility

Emotional Intelligence


Building Relationships

Political Savvy

Motivating and Engaging

Effective Team-building

Culture of Trust



1.    Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Marilee Adams Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009.
2.  The Emotionally Intelligent Manager – How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Intelligence Skills of Leadership by David Caruso and Peter Salovey, Jossey Bass, 2004.
3. Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace: Building Effective Relationship in Your Organization <3rd Ed.> by Dr. Dennis and Dr. Michelle Reina, Berret-Koehler Publishers, 2015.



1.   Internal Leaders:  Executive Officers, Cabinet members and selected officials – Each executive officer will have an opportunity to spend time with the participants and discuss their current challenges and goals as a leader. These candid conversations help participants learn more about some of the steps each individual leader took to get where they are in their careers today and how those actions have benefited the university.  

2.   External Leaders: Leaders from outside the university will be identified and scheduled to compliment and advance various topics.A partial list includes author and educator Dr. Marilee Adams, Rhetoric professor Dr. Lisa Davis of Kent State, and Drs. Dennis and Michelle Reina, pioneers in Trust Building.

Elements / Topics

1.  360 Evaluation

Participants will participate in a pre- and post-leadership 360 assessment. The initial 360 will set the tone and provide input on potential areas of interest to develop over the course of the year.

2.  Self-Compassion for Leaders

In this session participants will learn about self-compassion and why it is so critical to the role of leader at Kent State. Based on the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, participants will self-assess their self-compassion abilities and use this information as a basis for opportunities to grow as a leader. Participants will work with Michelle Bozeman, R.N. on applying Dr. Neff’s work to our environment of leadership. 

3.  Meditation and Leadership

Participants will be working, ongoing, with certified yoga and meditation instructor Lisa Thiel to conduct a series of meditative exercises where participants practice controlled breathing and enter into a meditative state to decrease stress reactions and increase access to various other brain-centers that handle long term memory, short term memory, risk/reward, empathic reasoning and creativity and insight. Other practitioners of self-care will also be working with the cohort.

4. Emotional Intelligence

Participants will all complete an Emotional Intelligence test called the Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test or MSCEIT. The MSCEIT will reveal participants level of emotional ability in four domains (1) capacity to identify emotions, (2) use emotions to generate thought, (3) understand complex emotions and (4) manage emotions for effective decision making. Studies have linked leaders with high degrees of emotional intelligence to increased effectiveness in the workplace.

5.  Argumentation and Influence

Participants will work with Dr. Lisa Davis to develop skills around the ability to influence and communicate effectively through the creation of a persuasive argument. Being able to see issues and opportunities from multiple perspectives is an important attribute to being able to assess risk, look for new solutions and lead change. 

6.  Inquiring Leadership

This half-day segment is done in conjunction with Dr. Marilee Adams, author of “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” and president of the Inquiry Institute. Great leaders must ask great questions and participants will learn Dr. Adams methodology to building teams by leading with great questions.

7.  Neuroscience of Change and Transformation 

In this session, participants will take a deeper look at the amazing complexities associated with changing behaviors. Understanding the neuroscience, physiology and psychology of the brain and body can help leaders think and act with intention in ways that increase the likelihood of taking meaningful action. Based on the work of Srini Pillay M.D. CEO of The NeuroBusiness Group and professor at Harvard Medical School and invited faculty to the Harvard School of Business.  Participants will apply this information to their situation and identify areas that he/she can change.

8.  Lean Problem Solving

Problems exist in all organizations. In the fast pace and high stress levels of today’s higher education environment, solving problems quickly and effectively is an essential skill.  In this one-day program, participants will learn a simple but proven step-by-step approach for attacking and solving problems based on LEAN methodologies. Within the time-honored Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) framework, participants will learn how to develop a standardized, yet flexible process that integrates easily into any current company format. 

9.  Team Dimensions

Participants and their peers will complete a Team Dimensions assessment and receive aggregate feedback on how their team approaches work.   The Team Dimensions concept and the Team Dimensions Profile were developed by Allen N. Fahden and Srinivasan Namakkal, who have conducted creativity seminars and trained corporate personnel on the innovation process for over two decades.  After more than 10 years of observing and researching teams that develop innovative services and products, Fahden and Namakkal discovered that each team member demonstrates a preference for performing certain roles over others. Their preferred roles reflect the way they think and the way they behave in terms of change.

10.  Diversity

Leaders need to move past just accepting diversity and towards utilizing diversity as a mechanism to improve team performance. While many leaders acknowledge that diversity is the right thing to do, they are less skilled in how to utilize that information. Working with Dr. Steven Michael of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science we will look at diversity from new angles.

11. Action Learning

The Institute for Excellence is not a theory course nor is it strictly about learning merely for the sake of acquiring knowledge. The I4E is about “doing” or more specifically the I4E is about applying what you have learned to your workplace environment. Action learning as a term was first coined by Professor Reginald Revans in the 1940’s. Action learning is a process whereby the participant studies his/her own actions and experiences in conjunction with others in small groups called action learning sets. IE participants will have ample data on their leadership strengths and weaknesses.  Within the first third of the program, they will identify the areas that they wish to focus on and create a plan for how this will be done.  Participants will identify a specific workplace scenario that allows them to demonstrate growth in their desired competencies. They can then begin the process of experimentation and practice on development. A final presentation will take place at the conclusion of the program.

12. Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is not just for executives.  In everyday communications when we develop and use coaching habits of asking questions and being curious to help others solve their challenges, it makes us stronger leaders by allowing others to come to their own conclusions and their own way of accomplishing a task.  Coaching is easy in theory but hard in practice.  We will spend time observing “fishbowl” coaching, coaching in small groups and coaching each other outside of class as well as going over and using the seven basic coaching questions.

Additional Components

Class participation – Participants are expected to be prepared to engage speakers and fully participate in all course requirements, including discussions, reading and out of class work.

Supervisor follow up – Human Resources will engage in frequent follow up with the participant’s supervisor to ensure they are kept appraised of the learning and know their role in supporting leadership growth and development. Communication will be via email, phone and face to face.

Attendance Requirements:

Most of our sessions are FULL DAY sessions running from 8:00 – 4:30.  If you are uncomfortable being out of the office for two full days a month please reconsider applying for this program. Participants are expected to attend all sessions and be present while the group is “in session”. Missed sessions impact the performance of the whole group and so participants are encouraged to strive for 100% attendance. We recognize however, that 100% attendance is not always possible for a variety of reasons.  Generally, absences at a total rate of 15-20% of the total number of sessions or less over the duration of the program are deemed acceptable. Absences above that place the participant are at risk of being removed from the program.

Individual Feedback:

Participants can request individual feedback at any point of the program, on how they are meeting the obligations and requirements of the course regarding their levels of participation in class, out of class preparation, etc.