Executive Development Blog

Meadowmont - Where Business Leaders Come to Learn from Kenan-Flagler

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 30, 2014 10:42:00 AM

Meadowmont was once an open tract of land with a small house on it. Now stands the Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center which houses UNC Executive Education for the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. Alongside the conference center is the DuBose House, a home established by the DuBose family, which is currently used for serving meals, hosting events, and boarding guests.   

The DuBose House at UNC Executive Development's Rizzo Center Mr. David St. Pierre DuBose had long nurtured a dream of creating his own rural estate, and in 1931 he purchased several tracts of land bordering Orange and Durham counties. On this land, at the top of a small mountain, DuBose established his own home and working farm. The highlight of the property was the handsome two-and-one-half story Georgian Revival country house, named Meadowmont for its location atop the small mountain surrounded by meadowland. This home was to become the center of a distinguished social scene in North Carolina for more than 60 years, and the DuBose family became stewards of their families' long-standing traditions of generosity to The University of North Carolina.

Mr. and Mrs. David St. Pierre DuBose moved to North Carolina from Baltimore, where Mr. DuBose had worked as an engineer after graduating from UNC-CH. He used his skills and innovation to create a beautiful home that was technologically advanced, functional for the family, and welcoming to all guests that entered. Realizing that air conditioning would one day be a standard feature of private homes, particularly in the South, DuBose designed an ingenious network of ductwork and vents, all painstakingly disguised behind intricate and attractive Georgian-style open moldings. Meadowmont is believed to be one of the first private homes in the United States equipped for central air conditioning.

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Identifying, Measuring, and Improving Employee Engagement

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 25, 2014 11:39:00 AM

The following is a summary on a white paper Pat Cataldo wrote.

Measure and Improve Employee Engagement

Filmmaker, comedian and well-known neurotic Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Pat Cataldo, managing director at UNC Executive Development, notes that while this may have been true thirty years ago, today it no longer applies. “In our internationally competitive business environment, employers need dedicated employees fully committed to the success of their organizations,” says Cataldo.


As the economy recovers, employees will begin to look for new opportunities that could result in the loss of your organization’s most valued talent.  Therefore, if improving employee engagement has not been on your organization’s radar screen, it should be.

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Topics: employee engagement, actively disengaged, learning and development

Leadership Challenge: Creating a Collaborative Organizational Culture

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Sep 18, 2014 1:27:00 PM

Check out a recent talent management white paper written by Kip Kelly and Alan Schaefer.

Creating a Collaborative Organizational Culture

creating a collaborative culture

Collaboration can re-invigorate organizations by fully engaging employees, improving retention, and increasing innovation. It can help employees thrive in an ever-changing, diverse workplace. As organizations grow, however, employees scatter through telework and multiple locations, budgets shrink, and workloads expand, making collaboration a challenge. Unfortunately, many senior leaders view collaboration as a skill that is best applied to selected projects rather than as an organization-wide cultural value that should be embedded in the company’s fabric. 

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Leadership Lessons from the Quarterback

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 16, 2014 11:56:32 AM

When summer comes to an end, students head back to school, and the leaves begin to change, it can only mean one thing; football season has arrived.  One thing many people don’t think about when they are sitting down to watch their favorite game is how a football team operates much like your organization at work.  Most notably, how the quarterback is the leader of their team.  So you’ve got your pizza, buffalo wings, and your favorite beverage, but can you also be learning some leadership lessons from your favorite quarterback?  I’ll explore a few, of the many, leadership traits you can learn during this week’s games.


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Topics: leadership, leadership development

Closing the Gaps in Leadership Development

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 11, 2014 1:22:29 PM

The following is a summary on a white paper Brigitta Theleman wrote.

Closing the Gaps in Leadership Development

“Simply put, successful organizations have strong leaders,” says Brigitta Theleman, director for UNC’s OneMBA program. Organizations with strong leaders outperform other organizations in workforce retention, employee engagement, and organizational performance (including financial performance, customer satisfaction, service quality and productivity).

Unfortunately, identifying the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) needed in strong leaders and creating corporate cultures that encourage the development of these is a challenge for which many organizations struggle; only about two-fifths of respondents to a recent American Management Association survey agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that their “leadership development program is highly effective.”

word cloud

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Topics: executive development, leadership, leadership development, change

Effective Leadership Can Prevent Toxic Culture

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 4, 2014 11:10:52 AM

Check out a recent white paper written by UNC's Kirk Lawrence.

How to Cleanse a Toxic Workplace

Just about any manager who has been in the field for a few years has a supply of war stories about employees and supervisors whose presence and/or leadership style can crush a work environment in no time flat. Employees have their fair share of war stories too. For this reason, there has been increased attention in both the government sector and the private sector on senior leaders whose style and behavior are outside the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. These types of leaders create an environment that destroys morale and employee trust, and ultimately degrades productivity.

toxicWhen a workplace becomes toxic: The warning signs

Types of toxic behaviors include tearing others down, passive aggressive leadership, destructive gossip, devious politics, negativity, aggressiveness, narcissism, lack of credibility, passivity, disorganization, and the resistance to change. These behaviors—individually or combined—can create a toxic workplace environment.

Leadership—or the lack of it—lays at the core a toxic workplace. When a toxic workplace develops on a peer-to-peer level, it is the lack of leadership that allows it to fester. All too often, however, toxic workplaces are created from the top down, when managers or supervisors are the root of the problem. One study found that 37 percent of workers said they had been bullied at work and that the majority of those bullies (72 percent), were bosses.

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Three Characteristics for Effective Leadership Development

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Aug 28, 2014 1:33:17 PM

Recently, I wrote on the issue of whether leadership could be taught, and I concluded that it is taught (and learned) every day. So, if you'll humor me and accept that leadership can be taught, the next question I’d like to tackle is: How do business schools teach leadership?

To answer this question, we asked UNC Kenan-Flagler associate professor of organizational behavior, Alison Fragale. Professor Fragale teaches courses on effective leadership and negotiation skills to undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals. Alison offers several insights from her experience here at UNC, and she makes a convincing case that business schools are ideally suited to teach leadership. She identifies three characteristics of world-class business school faculty, which enable them to provide powerful leadership lessons, building real skills and changing behaviors.



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Topics: leadership, leadership development

4 Leadership Traits Needed for Challenging Times

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Aug 26, 2014 9:52:48 AM

The Wall Street Journal “Boss Talk” column recently featured a conversation with UNC Chancellor, Carol Folt, who joined UNC in 2013 as the University's reputation for top-flight athletics and academics was being challenged. Rather than focus on the specific investigation, I want UNC Chancellor Carol Holtto point out how the interview with Chancellor Folt is an excellent example of executive leadership and vision during taxing times.

Everyone has their own idea of what it takes to be top dog. There are hundreds of lists of the characteristics of exceptional leaders, but several traits seem to top the majority of these lists. Below I’ve listed those traits that help leaders in times of crisis and copied Chancellor Holt's quotes from the interview which demonstrate her firm grasp of how to lead in challenging times.

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Topics: leadership, leadership development

How Leadership Can Build a Resilient Culture

Posted by Chad Vamos on Aug 21, 2014 11:01:31 AM

Below is a summary of a white paper written by Marion White

Building a Resilient Organizational Culture

A 2012 Towers Watson study found that in most organizations, only 35 percent of employees said they were engaged. In other words, 65 percent of employees have mentally checked out, causing productivity, innovation, and creativity to plummet. 

While this is never good news for employers, the timing could not be more critical as organizations across the globe continue to struggle to survive. Thought leaders are increasingly calling today’s turbulent business world a “VUCA” environment—one that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. To succeed in this environment, organizations must be more adaptive and agile than ever before—they must be resilient. Organizations that lack resilience—that ability to bounce back after setbacks—are often stressful places to work, a situation in which far too many employers and employees are well versed. 

Stress lowers employee performance, productivity, morale, and strains workplace relationships. People experiencing excessive stress have difficulty managing emotions, focusing attention, making decisions, and thinking clearly. Stress can also result in heart disease, cancer, pain, and depression. Stressed employees are overwhelmed, tired, and disengaged. 

Resilient employees, on the other hand, are more engaged and productive, have improved communication, are better team players, and have lower health care costs. And a growing body of research shows that organizations that foster positive attitudes have employees who are more optimistic, creative, and experience lower turnover.    

Organizational Culture

Resilient organizational cultures give all employees—from the CEO down—permission to take care of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with the understanding that when these needs are tended to, resilience occurs, and the entire organization benefits through increased productivity, job performance, retention, engagement, and physical well-being. It makes sense, then, that HR and talent management professionals should strive to shift their organizational cultures to one that embraces and fosters resilience.

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Topics: employee engagement, leadership, organizational culture, change

The Big Data Talent Gap

Posted by Chad Vamos on Aug 14, 2014 1:03:21 PM

Check out the summary of a white paper by Stan Ahalt and Kip Kelly:

Big data—the massive amounts of information companies collect through web crawlers, social media feeds, server logs, customer service databases, and other sources—is quickly becoming big business in today’s competitive marketplace, and if business leaders haven’t added big data to their strategic agendas yet, they will be compelled to in the near future. Few organizations, however, have the talent with the expertise needed to collect, organize, and analyze the data and to provide meaningful insights. Even fewer organizations have business leaders with the knowledge and experience needed to create value from big data.  HR and talent management professionals should understand how big data will affect their organizations and should be thinking about how best to build big data talent in their organizations.

Big data is transforming every industry as companies realize the opportunities they have to leverage big data analytics in marketing, sales, and operations. Google, for example, uses big data analytics to identify flu outbreaks in the United States in real time—a feat that takes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about two weeks to do because it relies on slower reporting mechanisms. Google can identify the outbreaks faster because it receives more than three billion search queries on a daily basis and saves them all. Through big data analytics, Google was able to identify 45 search terms that, when used in a mathematical model, showed a strong correlation between their predictions and the CDC’s figures.


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Topics: talent management, high-potential talent, data