Expanding Entrepreneurial Leadership into Law Enforcement

President Spinelli talks with the Springfield mayor in his office

For Babson College President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, a visit to his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, was about more than reminisces and recognitions.

The homecoming was an inspiring opportunity to engage with city leaders about the College’s mission to empower entrepreneurial leaders everywhere.

Spinelli met Friday with Springfield police lieutenants and sergeants participating in Babson’s B-AGILE Blue Skies, a seven-week program helping high-performing and high-potential police leaders to maximize their entrepreneurial leadership skills.

“At Babson, we always talk about entrepreneurial leadership impacting ecosystems everywhere,” Spinelli said. “This is an ecosystem in a market that we typically aren’t teaching in. It is a brilliant expansion of our impact on the world.”

The leadership program drew the praises of Springfield Mayor Dominic J. Sarno and Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood. During his visit, Spinelli also met with them and other city officials to discuss the potential impact of B-AGILE Blue Skies on his hometown—and beyond.

Solving Problems, Creating Value

B-AGILE Blue Skies is the newest iteration of the Babson Accelerator for Growth, Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Leadership (B-AGILE for short), an initiative to help government agencies drive a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership. B-AGILE has paid dividends in other agencies, such as the Massachusetts State Lottery, which expects to earn millions more in sales because of B-AGILE.

President Spinelli gestures while speaking to Springfield police officers
President Spinelli discusses the B-AGILE Blue Skies program with Springfield police lieutenants and sergeants.

B-AGILE Blue Skies trains police officers to better understand and respond to rapidly changing conditions, often in chaotic environments. It focuses on solving problems and creating value—hallmarks of Babson’s expertise and mission. “If we can impact how well you make decisions and lead that decision making,” Spinelli told the 11 officers in the first cohort, “we can change the face of society.”

Clapprood praised the program for providing officers with the necessary leadership model and skills to better function in the community. “We’ve assumed many more responsibilities,” she said. “What we needed was tools for them to use to help them make difficult decisions.”

Those tools are taught by Scott Taylor, the Arthur M. Blank Endowed Chair for Values-Based Leadership, and Dwight Gertz, senior lecturer at Babson. The weekly on-site sessions have engaged the officers in dramatic new discussions, which is what most struck Spinelli during his visit. “There is genuine enthusiasm for understanding entrepreneurial leadership,” he said. “There is a clear belief in leadership in the police department, and there is excitement about what entrepreneurial leadership means.”

The Springfield mayor also expressed his enthusiasm for the program as a national model for police departments. “It’s a great collaboration,” Sarno said. “This is a great investment of money, which is going to benefit Springfield. Besides the public safety initiatives, we’re investing in human capital.”

Spinelli told the mayor that he’s sending a positive message about approaching policing differently. “I think Springfield is really thinking about the future in a much different way than a lot of cities,” he said. “I was really energized by the officers’ perspective on what their job was. It’s so much bigger. It really was about solving problems and creating bigger value for Springfield.”

“They’re grasping what we believe is the important role of entrepreneurial leaders. It’s starting to have an effect, and if we can do that in Springfield, why can’t we do that everywhere?”
Babson College President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD

An Honor for a Native Son

On the homecoming trip, Spinelli was accompanied by Katherine Craven P’22, chief administrative and financial officer at Babson; and Kevin Sullivan, vice president of strategic corporate relations and engagement at Babson and the former mayor of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Prior to meeting with the lieutenants and sergeants in the B-AGILE Blue Skies program, they toured the Springfield Police Department’s state-of-the-art training center.

President Spinelli and Mayor Sarno pose for a photo with the mayor's proclamation
Springfield Mayor Dominic J. Sarno presents his proclamation declaring Dr. Stephen Spinelli Day in Springfield.

Spinelli also made a visit to his childhood home in the city’s South End, where he lived for the first 15 years of his life. He recalled the house’s gray paint and the porch his father built. And, he reminisced about his parents and three siblings living in the duplex across the street from their elementary school, and just blocks from his Little League field, where the Basketball Hall of Fame now stands. He then traveled to City Hall, where he remembered meeting then-Mayor Charles Ryan as an elementary student.

This City Hall visit, though, was different. In addition to discussing the partnership between Babson and Springfield, the current mayor had a surprise recognition for him. Sarno presented the native son—the co-founder of Jiffy Lube and chairman of the board of Planet Fitness—with a proclamation declaring Friday as Dr. Stephen Spinelli Day in Springfield.

“It really is an honor. The city of Springfield is a wonderful place,” Spinelli told the mayor. “We’re just so proud to be part of that program and to teach here in my hometown.”

For Spinelli, the biggest reward was realizing the potential impact of B-AGILE Blue Skies from the valuable feedback of his hometown’s leaders—the mayor, the police commissioner, and the police lieutenants and sergeants.

“They’re grasping what we believe is the important role of entrepreneurial leaders,” Spinelli said. “It’s starting to have an effect, and if we can do that in Springfield, why can’t we do that everywhere?”

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