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Todd MurphyAssociate Director

Professional Experience

Todd Murphy is the Associate Director of Northwestern University's Center for Leadership and a faculty member in the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science. Previously, he taught in the School of Communication and was an Academic Advisor in the Athletic Department. During his time as a Northwestern grad student, he was a lab instructor in the Undergraduate Leadership Program (ULP), the precursor to the Center for Leadership, and earned his PhD under Paul Arntson, ULP’s founder.

Teaching, Research Interests, and Program Initiatives

Murphy focuses on equipping leaders to mobilize individual differences in order to maximize team performance. This is built on his research into the effects of surface-level and deep-level diversity on team dynamics. Teaching on both the undergraduate and graduate level, his courses include Paradigms and Strategies of Leadership (McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science), Leadership by Design (McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science), Field Study in Leadership (McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science) and Leader as Coach (Kellogg).

Current projects include cohort coaching in the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program, along with work at the Feinberg School of Medicine to improve physician wellness and effectiveness through individual leadership development, peer mentor training and team awareness.

Throughout his tenure at the Center for Leadership, Murphy has launched numerous initiatives. Among them are the Center’s Ambassadors program, which allows students to participate in the creation of leadership development opportunities for their peers, a Ventures program that provides funding for students to continue their leadership development as they launch projects that give back to the NU and Evanston communities, and the Evanston Civic Internship Program, which places undergrads in offices of Evanston Aldermen and city officers, giving them firsthand exposure and experience in local municipal government and leadership. He has also partnered with Northwestern’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Program of African Studies to create and launch the Young African Leadership Initiative at Northwestern. This five-year program, sponsored by the White House and U.S. Department of State, was an annual leadership development experience for 25 young entrepreneurs and community leaders selected from a pool of 50,000 applicants from across the African continent.

Private and Public Sector Interests

Beyond Northwestern, Murphy has been a consultant and featured contributor to the New York Times in Leadership, an online resource for leadership programs and faculty used by over 100 universities around the world. He has also given invited presentations and leadership training for the American Library Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Teach for America, Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn and the Evanston Youth Job Center.

In addition to a PhD from Northwestern, Professor Murphy holds a Master of Divinity degree and is an ordained Anglican Priest. He is also a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Prior to NU, he worked for several years in different contexts, including parish ministry, family business, and the Department of Defense.

On Learning About Leadership

"I have a habit of reducing my thoughts on leadership development to short sayings. I suppose it is a way of adapting to a world of texting, twittering and short attention spans. Here are a few that I find myself using most often:

'The Center for Leadership is a launching pad, not a factory.' - Many programs make the implicit (and sometimes explicit) claim that they 'produce leaders', as if it were as simple as setting up a machine and turning a crank. In my experience, each person is too unique and leadership too nuanced for this approach to begin to tap into the potential of what could be. Hence, we don’t attempt to "produce leaders", as if our students were Model T’s. Rather, we walk with them through a collaborative and ongoing process that enables them to become the leader they were designed to be. When students finish our program, this process has only begun. Our goal is to set them on an arc of development that will continue over a lifetime.

'Develop yourself, not your resume.'– If leadership is to be effective and sustained, it must come out of who you are. To lead out of who you are, you must know who you are. There was a time when the person defined the resume. Too many people now approach life as if the resume defines the person. Thus, they spend their energy adding to a laundry list of titles and credentials without ever looking inside themselves to know and develop who they are. If you focus on developing yourself as a leader, the resume will follow.

'Life rarely works out the way we expect. When it does, it is usually because we have traded possibility for control.' – Risk is an essential ingredient for achieving your dreams.

'Releasing creativity and wisdom to build a better world.' – This is my unofficial vision statement for the Center for Leadership. At the end of day, all we really do is help students tap into what has been inside of them all along, so that they can help others do the same. Doing so allows us to have a part in creating a better future."

Favorite Leadership Reading

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The more you read about Abraham Lincoln, the more you realize he was the embodiment of the leadership virtues today’s experts and researchers consider essential.

Three Personal Passions

"My family, CrossFit (though I’m not very good at it) and a fine steak from any of Chicago's great chop houses."

Three Things That Need Work

"My tan…my hairline…my waistline."

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