Executive Development Blog

Two simple words, Thank-You.

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 24, 2015 10:53:26 AM

What would you say if someone told you that you could instill value in your employees, increase morale in your organization, and engage individuals at all levels and that this could be done 100% free? Believe it or not, this can be done using two simple words. They are, “thank-you”. 

Paul Larue writes for the Lead Change Group on the topic of the simple thank you. 

“The most effective leaders I know work diligently to thank their people. The validation can come from end of day departures and acknowledging extra effort on the fly, to even just thanking them for doing their normal work, giving input, or being positive throughout the day. These leaders know the value of their people and their basic need of feeling important, the feeling that their top three needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (belonging, esteem, and self-actualization) are being met.

Read the entire article here.

UNC Executive Development would like to say “thank-you” to all of our staff, faculty, program participants, and clients this Thanksgiving holiday season. We hope you enjoy the holiday with your friends and family.


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The Workforce is Aging. What's Your Plan?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 19, 2015 11:58:00 AM

As a result of this seismic demographic shift, the U.S. faces a potentially massive loss of skilled, knowledgeable workers as they reach the age of 65. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10,000 baby boomers in the U.S. will turn 65 every day until 2030, and in some years that daily average will swell to more than 13,000 baby boomers (Moeller, 2013). The U.S. Census also reports that the number of American workers age 65 and older is expected to grow by 75 percent by 2050. By comparison, the number of American workers age 25 to 54 is expected to grow by only two percent by 2050. In other words, the future workplace is gradually getting older and future generations of young workers entering the workforce will be smaller. There will simply not be enough younger workers with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to fill the slots left empty by those retiring (Paullin, 2014).


All industries and economies will be affected by the graying of the globe, and every company will have to come to terms with an aging workforce. That being said, some industries are particularly at risk of experiencing talent shortages because of their aging workforces, such as the health care, construction, professional and business services, manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture industries (Paullin, 2014).

The aging population is creating a number of challenges, as well as new opportunities, and the implications are far reaching. Companies need to understand and prepare for an this unprecedented shift, yet a recent survey on aging by the Society for Human Resource Management found that most U.S. employers appear in denial and are woefully unprepared for the business realities of an aging workforce.

Does your organization have a plan?  I encourage you take a look at some of the research UNC has put forth in a white paper titled, “The Aging Workforce: Four Steps to Maximize Older Workers in Your Organization”.

Click to Download Full White Paper

UNC Executive Development offers a broad portfolio of leadership development and business education programs. Take a look at our calendar to see which two, three, or five day program meets your needs.

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Why You Should Be Hiring Veterans

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 17, 2015 1:44:00 PM

When HR and talent management professionals hire veterans, they hire more than men or women with exceptional skills and competencies. They also hire their immediate and extended families who have weathered and celebrated their soldiers’ active-duty service. By hiring veterans, businesses can improve their brand, attract new customers and increase the loyalty of their existing ones, and become an employer of choice (Curtis, 2012).

Top Ten Reasons to Hire Veterans

1. Accelerated learning curve: Veterans have a proven ability to learn new skills quickly and vetHireefficiently.

2. Leadership:
The military trains soldiers to lead by example and through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration.

3. Teamwork: Military duties involve the ability to execute both individual tasks and group endeavors. 

4. Diversity: Veterans have learned how to work with all individuals regardless of race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, etc. 

5. Performance under pressure: Veterans understand what it means to perform under difficult conditions and tight schedules and with limited resources. 

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Why Change Initiatives Fail

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 12, 2015 1:57:59 PM

A 2012 study by Capgemini found that in these volatile times, change management should be a core competency in most organizations, yet its survey of Norwegian business leaders found that 45 percent of all companies currently do not excel at change management. So what does managing change effectively entail? The study found three areas in which organizations should strive to improve when implementing change initiatives:

1. Organizations should have a clear vision of the change initiative’s desired outcome and foster a positive organizational culture that supports change initiatives. 

2. Change initiative strategies should be better aligned with underlying organizational needs. 

3. Organizations should make a better effort to link change initiatives with economic results.

David Leonard and Claude Coltea from Gallup assert that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail because change agents overlook the role front-line managers play in the success of the initiative.  They also claim that HR professionals fail to develop in front-line managers the exact actions they need to take to make the changes happen. The main take away from Leonard and Coltea is the need to invest the time and the resources to achieve front-line manager support to a level where they drive the change as if they themselves made the decision. 

Other reasons why change initiatives fail include: Change-Management-

  • The lack of a clearly communicated strategy to stakeholders such as employees and customers. 
  • The lack of support and buy-in by key organizational leaders. Even if the change initiative is small in scope, senior leaders must be aware of it, understand why it is important to the organization as a whole, and “own” it as if the decision is in the best interests of their own employees.
  • Senior leaders’ failure to understand the change initiative’s relevance and the failure to measure the change initiative’s progress.
  • The lack of sufficient technology to implement and sustain the change initiative. 
  • The lack of positive and transparent reinforcement.
  • A lack of understanding about how the change will actually impact employees. 

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Is Your Leadership Style “In the Moment”?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 10, 2015 3:20:00 PM

I’m sure that many out there reading have pushed themselves to go to work, showed up tired, were unmotivated, or just plain upset that they had to get out of bed.  The big question is what toll does this take on your productivity that day?  Part one is being present at work, Part two is actually being productive and doing what you were hired to do.mike

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty member Mike Christian recently spent some time with Strategy + Business magazine to discuss the effect of the above mentioned un-motivating factors and the toll it can take on an individual’s performance.  On Mike Christian’s research, Strategy + Business writes, “When our mental energy is depleted, we are less able to exhibit control over our emotions and behaviors — and are more likely to be disengaged, break rules, take part in deception, or even act unethically.  Mike Christian has also done extensive research in the area of “Mindfulness”.  To read the full interview, click here.

Being in the moment, or present, can often times help with factors that may reduce your overall performance in the workplace.  Mindfulness has roots that go back 2,500 years and uses an anchor—often breathing—to center attention and to bring awareness to the present moment (Stone, 2014). The goal of mindfulness practice is to “quiet the mind’s constant chattering—thoughts, anxieties, and regrets,” writes Frances Weaver for The Week. Mindfulness practitioners learn to focus on the present in everything they do and to accept events in the present moment (Weaver, 2014).

UNC Executive Development recently published a white paper titled, “Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace”.  It’s a great read and you can download a free copy below which may give you some ideas to introduce to your daily routine.

Click to Download Full White Paper

UNC Executive Development offers a broad portfolio of leadership development programs.  View our full calendar here to see if there's a developmental opportunity which may suit you well.

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The Role of Motivation in the Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 5, 2015 12:32:00 PM

Motivation in the workplace is defined as the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual needs (Robbins in Mobbs and McFarland, 2010). It has been studied for more than a century by psychologists, sociologists, economists, organizational development experts, and others for a simple reason. Capitalizing on understanding why people do what they do and fostering a motivated workforce means better organizational performance.


Motivated employees improve an organization’s productivity and its competitive advantage. They are more highly engaged, can better handle the unease that comes with uncertainty, generally make for better problem solvers, and are more innovative, creative, and customer focused. Organizations with highly motivated workforces, in addition to being more profitable, report having higher levels of customer satisfaction and employee retention (Campbell, n.d.).

Given the benefits experts have long known that motivation offers organizations, a proliferation of motivation theories have been introduced over the years. Most HR and talent management professionals are aware of and have tried to apply many of them. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Locke’s goal-setting theory, Skinner’s reinforcement theory, Adam’s equity theory, and Vroom’s expectancy theory, to name just a few, all made their way into management textbooks, all speculating on how to best motivate employees to increase profits. Studies eventually showed that concepts heavily based on extrinsic rewards could not adequately explain human motivation, and so scientists focused on intrinsic rewards. Until recently, however, we could not substantiate motivational theories. Neuroscience, anchored in rich research, is giving scientists new understanding into human motivation, and this can be to the advantage of all organizations.

For more information on this topic, take a moment to download a free copy of UNC Executive Development's white paper titled, "Motivation on the Brain - Applying the Neuroscience of Motivation in the Workplace.

Click to Download Full White Paper

UNC Executive Development offers a broad portfolio of leadership development programs.  View our full calendar here to see if there's a developmental opportunity which may suit you well.

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Putting the "Fun" in Fundraising, One Pie at a Time

Posted by Kip Kelly on Nov 3, 2015 11:28:00 AM

unc chili cook offIf you've attended one of the leadership development programs here at UNC Executive Development, you know that we take our work very seriously.  You also know that we like to have fun, because if we're not having a good time, chances are good that you're not having a good time either.  We've been ranked among the best in the world for our faculty, program design, new skills and learning...but what you don't see in our rankings is the team behind the scenes.unc executive development pie toss 

I think we have one of the best teams in the business, and it is events like the latest SECC fund raising effort that make me proud to be a part of this team.  We've had a bake sale, a chili cook off, a penny drive and now a pie throw raffle.  It is great to see everyone involved, supporting the team, and supporting some worthwhile causes.unc bake sale

If you haven't attended one of our leadership development programs then I encourage you to explore the program portfolio on our website to find the program that is right for you. You can experience one of the best business schools in the world - with the best team in the business.

Hope to see you. 

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Topics: executive development, UNC, Kenan-Flagler, leadership development

Return on Integrity

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 29, 2015 10:54:38 AM

UNC Executive Development white paper on return on inetgrityLack of integrity is behind almost every corporate scandal. There are, unfortunately, far too many examples that make this case. Earlier this year, Toshiba Corporation made headlines when it admitted to accounting errors dating as far back as 2010 that caused the company to overstate financial results by approximately $1.2 million dollars. The scandal resulted in the ousting of Toshiba’s then CEO and several other corporate leaders. In February, Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras announced the resignation of its CEO and five other executives after the arrest of more than 80 executives and managers on charges of bribery and money laundering. 

 And then there is Volkswagen’s recent emissions scandal which now has its own twitter hashtag, #volkswagengate. Time will tell whether Volkswagen can survive the financial and customer losses it faces as a result of installing software that make diesel VW cars appear to be “cleaner” than they actually are. A week after Volkswagen admitted to installing the software on its diesel cars from 2009 through 2015, its CEO resigned. He is now under investigation for fraud by German prosecutors. The company faces heavy fines, has recalled 500,000 cars, has stopped sales of new and used cars in the United States, and now is trying to figure out how to repair an estimated 11 million affected cars.

Ethical lapses big and small regularly occur in the in the workplace. A 2014 report released by the Ethics Resource Center found that 41 percent of the 6,400 employees surveyed said they had observed misconduct on the job. The survey also found that much of the misconduct observed by employees involves continuous, ongoing behavior, not one-time occurrences.

UNC Executive Development blog post of ethical organizational behavior

People read about unethical behavior and inaccurately assume that unethical acts are committed by unethical people--those with flawed moral character. This is not necessarily true according to Dr. Alison Fragale, the Mary Farley Ames Lee Distinguished Scholar and an associate professor of organizational behavior at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Fragale notes that all organizations have hierarchies, and this is usually good. Hierarchical relationships make employees more comfortable in their interpersonal interactions, and hierarchies enable groups to accomplish tasks more efficiently.  At the same time, hierarchies—which are simply unequal distributions of power across individuals in a group—actually can promote unethical and undesirable behavior. This occurs because possessing power—being in control of resources and being free from the control of others—can change how individuals think, feel, and act, and often for the worse. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for employers to “select out” undesirable behavior simply by hiring the “right people.”  Each organization, organizational unit, and individual must create the right environment to minimize the undesirable consequences of possessing power.

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Who Has the Power?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 27, 2015 11:12:00 AM

When you think of the word, “Power” in your organization what do you think of?  Most would attribute this to a senior level executive who makes the decisions for their organization.  Some may have a negative view and think of that manipulative individual who persuades everyone they come in contact with.  It’s kind of funny that power is often associated as negative, even though the true definition is in fact neutral.  If you’re a leader in the middle of your organization’s hierarchy, the key to your success may be determining how much power you actually have and who else has power that aligns with your goals.


UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty members Mark McNeilly, David Hofmann, and David Roberts recently wrote an article titled, “Leading in the Middle: Who’s Got the Power?” for UNC Business Magazine.  The article states, “Simply put, power is the ability to influence others.  If you want to proactively add value to your organization, you will have to influence others - and to do that, you need to attain power for yourself and align your initiative with others who have power.” Notice there is no mention of the level you must be at in your organization to use or have power.  McNeilly, Hofmann, and Roberts go on to lay out “Four Cues and Clues” you can use to understand who has the power in your organization.  They are:

  1. Resources
  2. Responsibilities
  3. Relationships
  4. Rules

I encourage you to check out the free current issue of UNC Business Magazine for insights into power and other relevant topics.  Whether you’re leading from the middle, entry-level, or top of the pack there are topics relevant to your leadership development.

Interested in learning more about power and your leadership ability?  Take a moment to download a brochure on UNC Executive Development’s 3-day Leadership Effectiveness Workshop.

Learn More about  Leadership Workshop

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Building Innovative & Customer Centric Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 22, 2015 2:55:21 PM

The following is an excerpt from IEDP’s Developing Leaders publication titled "Building Innovative and Customer Centric Leaders.”  You can download the full article on the collaboration of Owens Corning and UNC Executive Development using the "Download" button provided below.


Owens-Corning-logo-1Owens Corning recently celebrated 75 years as a leader in the field of fiberglass technology. Founded in 1938, Owens Corning is recognized today as one of the top manufacturers of building and composite material systems in the world, with over 15,000 employees operating across 26 countries.


A cornerstone of Owens Corning’s success has been its commitment to technical expertise and excellence in all of its product categories. Over the last decade, however, the intense focus on technological leadership has, in some ways, limited the company’s ability to innovate and commercialize new products. The executive team and key senior leaders in the organization identified two critical challenges:

1. The company’s approach to driving growth was often misdirected. Rather than innovating to meet a market need, the company would create innovative technologies and then try to find customers who might be interested in the new product features.

2. Owens Corning general managers lacked the strategic marketing skills required to anticipate and address customers’ needs.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Thaman laid out a new vision for Owens Corning: to become a “global company where market-leading businesses are built” and enlisted his HR leadership team to help transform the organization from a company that was focused inwardly to one that is more innovative and customer-centered.

To address this challenge, the team outlined a comprehensive, four phase approach, and UNC Executive Development was enlisted as a strategic partner to help Owens Corning achieve its goals of building innovative and customer centric leaders.  To read details about this organizational transformation, click on the link below. 

  Click Here To Download

IEDP is a trusted voice focusing on increasing the impact of leadership development in organizations. IEDP publishes the latest developments, ideas, and best practices being delivered by the world’s premier business schools and consultancies. 

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