Human Services and Goodwill Industries and Charities and Philanthropy and Leading Questions

LEADING QUESTIONS: Goodwill boss on lessons learned

June 2, 2010
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Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with one of central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Jim McClelland has been a fixture in the city's not-for-profit world since 1974, when he became president of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana Inc. He has piloted the organization from $2.8 million in revenue when he first took the helm to $72.8 million in 2009, reinventing its business model a few times along the way.

An industrial engineer by training, McClelland became interested in service work while tutoring inner-city children in Washington, D.C. He was offered a position in Goodwill Industries' executive training program, which he accepted after some reluctance.

"I didn't want to be an executive; I never aspired to be a leader," he said. "What I've been able to do here is exercise my entrepreneurial instincts but at the same time get the same satisfaction I was getting from that volunteer experience."

McClelland, 66, is a big fan of lifelong learning, both from traditional paper-and-ink sources and nose-to-the-grindstone experience. In the video below, McClelland picks his favorite book on management and details a tough lesson learned on his own about nurturing the support functions of his organization.



McClelland's entrepreneurial instincts haven't always led Goodwill in the best direction. In the video below, he discusses how he tried to handle the economic downturn of the early 1980s and what happened when the group started several small business to provide employment for its own training graduates. The experience led to an important epiphany.

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