IU Health South Central Region Case Study


Indiana University Health is the largest and most comprehensive healthcare system in Indiana, with 16 hospitals, dozens of community and out-patient facilities, and more than 34,000 employees. The IU Health South Central Region, based in Bloomington, in recent years has tapped the top-ranked Kelley School of Business for training designed to increase the business acumen of its medical professional leaders, who are part of a dyad leadership approach where they partner with an administrative leader. This case study discusses the new Directors Leadership Development Program, custom designed by Kelley Executive Education for the other half of the dyad—high level non-clinical directors throughout the IU Health South Central Region, which includes hospitals and facilities in 11 counties.

Healtcare staff speaking with a patient


The healthcare industry nationwide has undergone rapid change in recent years. In Indiana, this trend has spurred the reconfiguration of hospitals, healthcare systems, and services. Fast-paced, market-driven changes have forced the healthcare industry, which traditionally followed a not-for-profit business model, to adopt business management and even entrepreneurial practices.

The IU Health South Central Region has around 50 directors who function as “leaders of leaders.” David Weales, senior organizational development consultant for IU Health, described them as “player-coaches” because they are active in managing their functional areas in addition to managing teams and projects. They are expected to model IU Health values and approach problem-solving strategically. The organization wanted to empower directors, typically mid-career professionals, to effectively navigate the changes.

The impact of the pandemic created additional challenges. Kelley Executive Education created a robust in-person training program that promptly had to be converted for online delivery because of public health guidance.

In a constantly evolving industry, how do we equip our directors to be more agile and more strategic?

Davie Weales, senior organizational development consultant for IU Health

The Kelley solution

It helps to have a world-class business school in your backyard. Weales said the Kelley School’s reputation and proximity—the courses were going to be in-person at IU Bloomington before the pandemic—influenced the decision to partner. The organization also had already had impactful experiences with Kelley Executive Education’s custom programs, such as Physician Leadership in Business Acumen, and with the Center for the Business of Life Sciences, which designed that program. Here are some highlights of the Directors Leadership Development Program designed for the IU Health South Central Region directors:

  • Executive leadership expertise: Kelley Executive Education has been helping businesses and organizations of all sizes solve key problems and realize opportunities for more than 40 years. This expertise went into designing and delivering the five courses in the series: Building a High Performance Culture, Building and Leading High Performance Teams, Effective Communication, Financial Strategy and Value Creation, and Project Management—Tools, Technologies, and Techniques.
  • Flexible: The program leveraged the Kelley School’s leadership in online business education—and the agility of the Kelley Executive Education team—when in-person courses no longer were possible. In addition to pivoting to provide high quality online instruction, Kelley Executive Education shifted the schedule to accommodate the increased demands put on directors by the pandemic.
  • Customized: The 50-plus directors chose the five courses from a survey that included 20 potential topics recommended by Kelley Executive Education. Each director was encouraged to attend a minimum of two courses. The curriculum included case studies and other material relevant to the healthcare industry.

The instructors included healthcare-related examples when possible. These weren’t ‘off-the-shelf’ courses.

George Telthorst, director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences at the IU Kelley School of Business


Weales said he received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from the directors. He said many of the directors have few opportunities to collaborate with peers like they did during the courses. They told Weales they found it refreshing and expressed an “appetite to work together and collaborate around the functional areas.”

Healthcare workers talking

Our directors really want more of that collaborative environment. I see this as a really big win from a cultural perspective and functional perspective—their willingness and desire to band together and reach out to their peers to brainstorm and work on ideas.

David Weales, senior organizational development consultant for IU Health