2012 Duke Leadership Academy Class Graduates

Yearlong program helps develop a pipeline of future leaders at Duke

Joe Manhertz, executive director for Athletics Development office, reminds his Duke Leadership Academy classmates to look at the big picture during his graduation remarks. Photo by Marsha A. Green.
Joe Manhertz, executive director for Athletics Development office, reminds his Duke Leadership Academy classmates to look at the big picture during his graduation remarks. Photo by Marsha A. Green.

In meetings, Joe Manhertz would find himself pushing his team members ever harder, coaching them to stretch team goals.

"I was like a coach who kept saying run faster," said Manhertz, a former college football and basketball player.

After a year in the Duke Leadership Academy, Manhertz, executive director for the Athletics Development office, emerged with new insights and skills, including communication techniques to provide positive reinforcement to his team.

"Now I can go in and say, 'I love what we've done so far, this is a great start. What more can we do?' " he said. "It's the same message presented differently, and my team responds a lot better."

Last week, Manhertz and 23 other staff and faculty members celebrated their graduation from the Duke Leadership Academy, an intensive yearlong program designed to stimulate personal and professional growth and nurture a pipeline of future leaders at Duke. Deans, directors or vice presidents nominate academy class members from across campus for the program.

Good leadership is key for any institution but in an organization as complex as Duke, developing leaders from within increases the chance that new leaders will understand the culture and have the support they need, said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration at Duke. World-class organizations recognize the value of promoting from within and dedicating time and resources to identifying and nurturing internal talent, he said. 

"The Leadership Academy has evolved to be one of Duke's core strategies in addressing this critical workforce need," Cavanaugh said.

The academy class spent the year learning about leadership in a curriculum based on best practices from the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE) model. Activities included coaching, classroom learning, intensive personal assessments and practical application of leadership theories.

During monthly meetings, the class learned about leadership journeys from five deans, three senior Duke administrators, the chair of the Board of Trustees and President Richard H. Brodhead. Brodhead attended the class graduation and offered his congratulations.

"A university has layers and layers of people to do our business, which includes everything from providing access to parking spots to removing brain tumors," Brodhead said. "You were chosen for this class because someone believed you have the capacity to help other people understand how they can fulfill the mission of this university."

Karl Bates, director of research communications in the Office of News and Communications, was among the class members. He used lessons from the program last October when he led a regional effort to host a science journalism conference with collaborators from other Triangle universities.

With no formal reporting relationships or leverage over dozens of volunteers, Bates relied on leadership concepts such as relationship building and providing explanations of how each project fits into the final product to help the group pull together as a team.

"I found it helpful to have the `camera over my shoulder' of self-awareness from the Duke Leadership Academy as I worked with them," he said. "The event was a success, and those volunteers are still speaking to me, so I think I pulled it off."

For Manhertz, the executive director of Athletics Development, the most powerful part of the program was the opportunity to see himself through many lenses - the Myers-Briggs personality test, questions from mentors and feedback from friends and colleagues. 

"This program asked us to look closely at ourselves, and asked us to ask others to look closely, too," he told classmates during remarks at graduation. "This program gave us a glimpse of who we really are."