Getting to know you: Class bonds during 2-day retreat


Staci Starcher interviews Alex Bush as part of the introductory exercise on Day 1 of the retreat.

Maria Bond (left) and Adam Wilhelm listen to Bobby Campbell, past president and member of the LHC board.

Maria Bond (left) and Adam Wilhelm listen to Bobby Campbell, past president and member of the LHC board.

The Class of 2017-18 got off to a strong start during its retreat, getting insights about their management styles, studying leadership challenges and engaging in fun — if a bit curious — exercises.

From the first moments of the retreat, which was held Sept. 14-15 at the Hancock County Public Library, the focus was on making new connections. Board members Donnie Munden, Justine Jones, Bobby Campbell and Brad Burkhart offered insights on what the class can expect and tips on getting the most out of their experience.

Then, the class members broke up into groups of two to interview and then introduce each other to the rest of the class. After an in-depth presentation on the class members’ leadership styles using the DiSC assessment, the class spent the rest of Day 1 on their Scavenger Hunt, a longtime fixture of LHC that pits groups of four class members against each other as they travel throughout the county looking for clues and gathering materials listed on a manifest. Class members were encouraged to post pictures on social media along the way. (You can view some of those photos as part of the slide show at the top of the page.)

The class ended the first day of the retreat with a dinner at Griggsby’s Station in downtown Greenfield.

The second day featured thoughtful presentations from Ed Freije, appearing for the 23rd time before a Leadership class; and Barb Roark, assistant director of the Hancock County Public Library.


Ed Freije, retired principal at New Palestine High School, used his years as a school administrator to present a scenario on consensus building: How to build agreement on school expansion.

Freije’s workshop focused on consensus building, and he walked the class through a scenario as he introduced tools they can use to forge replica patek phillipe consensus on contentious issues.

Roark talked about problem solving, using past class projects as object lessons to guide the class through discussion of techniques to solve problems.

A common thread running through both Day 2 presentations is that hard decisions should not be made in a vaccum: Indeed, the more voices that are heard in an organization, the more solid the decisions.

…And what’s with those odd exercises?

Adam Wilhelm (partially obscured at left), George Plisinski, Tracy Sweet and Diana Trautmann put the finishing -- and futile, it turns out -- touches on their spaghetti tower.

Adam Wilhelm (partially obscured at left), George Plisinski, Tracy Sweet and Diana Trautmann put the finishing — and futile, it turns out — touches on their spaghetti tower.


Stephanie Wilson (left) and Angela Flench gingerly step back from their finished tower, which stayed upright long enough to win the exercise.

Jesse Keljo and Cody Flood, who work as day chairs for the Leadership Hancock County team-building retreat, have seen those looks before: befuddlement, amusement and, for some, perhaps, a little worry.

Jesse and Cody were facilitators for two important team-building exercises for the retreat. Both involved taking risks and depending on others for success. Which, when you think about it, is the very definition of successful teamwork.

The setup for Jesse’s exercise was this: Six teams of four class members were given four items: a length of string, several strands of uncooked spaghetti, some masking tape and a marshmallow. The assignment: build a free-standing tower of spaghetti with the marshmallow sitting on top. The teams could use the string for guy wire or to construct struts made of spaghetti. Same with the tape. But the tower had to be capable of standing by itself by the time the clock expired.

Jason Hua, Stephanie Wilson and Angela Flench dove right in to the challenge, but first, they discussed the problem as they tentatively worked to engineer a structure that would stand. Not all the teams did that, Jesse would note at the end of the exercise: Some chaotically started taping spaghetti strands together, and their members didn’t always communicate effectively. The result was that some team members stayed on the sidelines and didn’t offer much help, or that team members worked against each other.

Sometimes, it was both.

Jesse noted after the exercise the importance of overcoming the fear of failure. It’s OK to try things that don’t work; the key is knowing when to move on to the next idea.

Cody’s exercise was even more vexing. Unfolding a large tarp — gray on one side and blue of the other — he invited all 24 class members to stand on it. It was a tight fit, and for those around the perimeter, one tiny step backward would put them off the tarp and foul the whole exercise. The goal: While standing on the tarp, the team had to flip the gray side to blue. No one could step off it. And to make it even more challenging, half of the class couldn’t speak, and the other half couldn’t touch the tarp with their hands.

As one group articulated strategy, the other group tugged on corners of the tarp, slowly repositioning each person. Twice they had to start over when someone stepped off the tarp. But on the third try, everyone was zeroed in on the task. One by one, tiptoe by tiptoe, the class members made it onto part of an expanding blue surface. When the last person stepped from gray to blue and the final corner of the tarp was turned, the group erupted in cheers.

The class certainly learned teamwork, even as they violated each other’s personal space and risked their colleagues’ ire by absent-mindedly stepping off. One group with which Cody was associated needed a second day to complete the exercise. Fortunately, the Class of 2017-18 needed only about 40 minutes.


Class members contemplate the uncomfortably small perimeter of the tarp.


Angela Flench tugs on a section of the tarp as classmates toe the edges trying to move from one section to another.


Greg Woods, Jason Hua and Courtney Miller realize they have to stick together — literally, it turns out — to compete the exercise.

DiSC assessment: A roadmap to your management style

The DiSC assessment measures a person's traits according to Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.

The DiSC assessment measures a person’s traits according to Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.

One of the highlights of the two-day Leadership Hancock County retreat, which begins Sept. 14, is the DiSC profile discussion. DiSC is a well-known system of analyzing a person’s personality and leadership style. Organizations use DiSC to gain insights into their team members’ strengths. At the team-building retreat, the Class of 2017-18 will use the assessment as a tool in identifying their own key attributes.

The students recently answered a series of questions in an online survey. DiSC plugs those answers into a matrix of characterizations to determine where the person sits on DiSC spectrum: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. They will receive their assessments during a seminar on Sept. 14. The LHC project was supervised by Pam Kinslow, a talent management director at Community Health Network. Chad Chalos, a Community Health consultant, will present the results during the seminar.

Chad’s presentation will focus on the insights behind the results. For example, what does it mean to be a “high D”? Through the presentation, students will learn how team members’ varied strengths can be used to achieve success. Every successful organization features strong performers of all four types, and such diversity of style makes for a vibrant workplace.

The DiSC assessment has been a cornerstone of the Leadership Hancock County retreat since its founding in 1996.

Meet our scholarship winners


Stephanie Haines (left) and Renee Oldham, winners of Leadership Hancock County scholarships for 2017-18.

Stephanie Haines (left) and Renee Oldham, winners of Leadership Hancock County scholarships for 2017-18.

Renee Oldham already has put down some new roots. Now, she’s looking forward to growing into her new leadership role in Hancock County.

A longtime resident of Wayne County, Renee gave back to her community in a variety of positions over the years. When she and her husband moved to McCordsville a year ago to be closer to their children, it was only a matter of time before she found some similar opportunities. She reached out to town manager Tonya Galbraith. She volunteered to help her homeowners association. And she was hired as executive director of the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation.

Renee, a member of the Leadership Hancock County Class of 2017-18, was selected by the LHC board of directors to receive the annual Nancy King Scholarship, which helps underwrite a deserving enrollee’s tuition for the program. The scholarship was established by one of the program’s founders.

The King Scholarship was one of two scholarships awarded for members of the new class, whose studies begin with a two-day retreat starting on Sept. 14. Stephanie Haines, a barista and columnist for the Daily Reporter, received a donor scholarship underwritten by Hancock Regional Hospital. Stephanie was runner-up in the board’s King Scholarship voting.

In awarding the King Scholarship, the board noted Renee’s initiative to help make a difference in Hancock County. Leadership Hancock County seeks to identify emerging leaders, and Renee certainly fit that profile in the board’s view.

“As a new resident, I want to become more involved with my new community, learning new perspectives, the history, challenges and opportunities for our county, how it functions and developing new connections and learning new skills,” she wrote in an essay. “I believe participating in Leadership Hancock County would allow me the opportunity to achieve those objectives enabling me to give back thru projects and or organizations. It would give me a better understanding on where our county has been and where it is going.”

Stephanie, who lived in Bloomington for a number of years, recently moved back to Greenfield, where her family has longtime roots. She works at Litterally Divine Chocolates in Indianapolis. She already is starting to get involved in the community — she plans to be involved with the Riley Festival in October — and looks at Leadership Hancock County as an essential resource to learning about her community and connecting with stakeholders.

“I can’t get those things on my own,” she wrote in her essay. “I feel there’s no way this class couldn’t help me, as there is so much I need to learn how to do: inspire, lead by example, fulfill commitments, communicate interpersonally, and the practical side of how to make things happen.”

Renee, Stephanie and their 22 classmates will learn about the importance of team-building during their September retreat, which will be held in the GBC Community Room at the Hancock County Public Library. Topics will include consensus-building and problem solving. Class members also will study their personal leadership styles via the DiSC profile system. An expert will present the results of class members’ questionnaires to them on the first day of the retreat, Sept. 14.