Executive Development Blog

How Does Your To-Do List Look Today?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 24, 2016 11:34:02 AM

How good does it feel to check things off of your to-do list?  Do you find yourself completing the short tasks first as you can cross them off your list sooner, and then move on to more challenging, time-consuming tasks?  Research shows you are not alone.

checklist.jpgUNC Kenan-Flagler’s Brad Staats and Harvard Business School’s Francesca Gino have put a lot of thought into the way we complete our tasks and in which order.  They found that our brains are wired to want to complete tasks in an effort to “check the box” which brings pleasure and a feeling of accomplishment.  The drive to complete shorter tasks first though may undermine our effectiveness.

In our research we asked a group of over 500 employees from a wide range of industries to spend the first few minutes of their workday writing down the tasks they wanted to accomplish throughout the day and to complete them in the order they wrote them down. Two-thirds of the employees were also asked to check off their tasks as they completed them, and half of that group was instructed to write down a couple of quick, mundane tasks at the top of their lists (e.g., responding to an urgent email). All employees kept track of their work for two weeks.

Want to know the results?  Click here to read the entire article from the Harvard Business Review titled, Your Desire to Get Things Done Can Undermine Your Effectiveness.

Interested in learning more about UNC Executive Development and the leadership programs we offer?  Click here to view our calendar of upcoming programs.

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Measuring the ROI of Learning and Development Can Be Challenging

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 19, 2016 10:48:35 AM

With today’s challenging economy, L&D budgets are receiving more scrutiny than ever. Participant feedback forms (i.e., smiley sheets) administered immediately after a learning program are no longer enough, and HR and talent management professionals are feeling the pressure to look for more solid evidence to justify the investment in their programs. This is particularly the case in leadership development programs, where the focus is often on the development of intangible skills.Measure_ROI_Science_2.jpg Because L&D programs often provide more long-term value rather than short-term effects, senior leaders may consider eliminating them as an easy way to cut costs. Even if executive sponsors are satisfied today, they may not be tomorrow. It makes sound fiscal sense to go beyond smiley sheets and to establish robust measures that capture ROI so that even the most critical of reviewers can see the value of L&D programs in an organization.

To help connect the dots and overcome the challenge of measuring the ROI of development programs, we at UNC Executive Development came up with some ways to measure the results of learning and development.  The white paper is titled, Beyond Smiley Sheets: Measuring the ROI of Learning and Development.  The paper:

  • Reviews the classic four-level model of evaluation.
  • Discusses the challenges in assessing value for new and existing development initiatives.
  • Offers suggestions on how to ensure that L&D evaluations reflect what executive leadership expects.
  • Provides steps to consider when evaluating the ROI of development programs.
  • Shares examples of companies that have effectively demonstrated the value of their L&D programs.

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Don't Be Scared of Conflict

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 17, 2016 10:04:55 AM

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you need to incite conflicts within your team or organization. It just needs to be the right type of conflict, and it needs to be managed effectively, notes Mabel Miguel professor of organizational behavior at UNC Kenan-Flagler.


“An organization that has no conflict will become obsolete and dead,” Miguel notes. “It would be an organization with no new ideas where people don’t articulate different views and where there are no value discussions. Conflict increases cohesiveness and creativity and reduces stagnation.”

Miguel encourages her students to incite functional conflict to force others to clarify their views, ideas and priorities. In contrast, dysfunctional conflict lowers productivity, morale and job satisfaction and increases stress, absenteeism and turnover within organizations, she adds. Many people shy away from inciting conflict because they view it negatively, as something associated with wars, battles and stress, Miguel notes. Much of this negative connotation comes from conflicts that dissolve into personal conflicts.

“Sharing of ideas, airing different opinions and brainstorming – all that is intellectual conflict.”

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Why Organizations Don't Learn - Webcast June 9th

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 12, 2016 10:46:33 AM

While all organizations understand that continuous learning is instrumental to success, most would also agree that it is an ideal that is very difficult to achieve.  After ten years of research, Brad Staats of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, have concluded that there are four biases that stand in the way of continuous organizational learning.  In their HBR article “Why Organizations Don’t Learn,” Staats and Gino explain that organizations often don’t learn because people focus too heavily on success, are too quick to act, try too hard to fit in, and rely too much on experts.  In this webcast, Brad Staats will elaborate on these four biases as well as suggest tactics for overcoming each.

Join UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Bradley Staats for a live webcast discussing his research on:
“Why Organizations Don’t Learn” 

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:00am (EDT)

Bradley Staats

Associate Professor of Operations, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business Schoolbrad.unc executive development.jpg

Brad Staats examines how organizations can improve their operational performance in order to build a generative competitive advantage. Dr. Staats integrates work in operations management and organizational behavior in order to understand how and under what conditions individuals, teams, and organizations can perform their best. His field-based research in such settings as healthcare and software services, consulting, call centers, and retail, uses archival data and field experiments to provide an interdisciplinary perspective. Prior to his academic career, he worked at a leading venture capital firm in the southeastern United States. He also worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and strategic planning at Dell Corporation. Dr. Staats received his DBA in technology and operations management and MBA from Harvard Business School. He received his BS with honors in electrical engineering and his BA with high honors in Plan II and Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin.

UNC Executive Development will be partnering with IEDP to deliver this webcast as part of their "Ideas for Leaders" series.


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Topics: talent development, leadership development, learning and development

An Inside Look at UNC's Executive Development Institute

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 10, 2016 1:34:34 PM

For over sixty years, UNC Executive Development has partnered with organizations to create customized executive development programs to answer their business challenges. As a part of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC Executive Development brings the school's experience, reputation, and noted faculty to these challenging and impactful programs. One program which has been in existence for many years is the Executive Development Institute.  It’s had several titles, lengths, and content, but one thing has remained the same; its purpose.

The Executive Development Institute paves the way for managers and directors who are taking the next step toward strategic leadership. During this five-day executive management program, participants gain the business knowledge needed to advance their careers.  The Executive Development Institute:

  • classroom.jpgFocuses on the knowledge and skills required for successful transition to senior management
  • Helps build a strategic understanding of the business as a whole
  • Provides a solid foundation of cross-functional business skills
  • Accelerates executive development through learning that draws on participants’ work experiences and real-time business challenges – before, during and after the program
  • Is taught by top-ranked MBA and PhD faculty who are chosen for their excellence in applied teaching methods and consulting experience with organizations in a wide variety of industries

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How Resilient is Your Organization's Culture?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 5, 2016 11:17:35 AM

The business landscape is constantly changing, becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This chaotic and turbulent environment can be very demanding, causing stress and, eventually, burnout.  Modern business leaders need to become more resilient, adopting new skills to be successful in this “new normal.”

resilience-2.jpgTo create a culture that fosters resilience, HR and talent management professionals must do more than offer stress management and yoga classes, although these can and do have a beneficial role. It requires the development of an organizational culture that encourages trust, accountability, and flexibility. 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.

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. The study also found that 38 percent of employees felt stress and anxiety about the future, and that less than half of the employees surveyed agreed that senior leaders had a sincere interest in their well-being. 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. An uncertain economic outlook, the rapid pace of change, and the need to continually adapt has made resilience—the ability to bounce back in the face of a setback—the new priority in leadership development. The good news is that resilience can be taught.

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Millennials are Shaping the Future of our Workforce

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 3, 2016 11:42:21 AM


UNC’s Kip Kelly recently authored a paper for INSIDE Supply Management titled, Maximizing Millennials in the Multigenerational Workforce.

"Young professionals bring a number of strengths to organizations, and as they become the working-population majority, companies need to adapt to recruit, retain and motivate these employees."

The demographic landscape of the modern workplace is shifting rap­idly, with major implications for supply management. Organizations face a potential mass exodus of their senior leaders, as more than 7,000 members of the baby boomer generation become eligible for retirement every day. Meanwhile, millen­nials have started climbing the corporate ladder, quickly becoming the majority of the workforce — by 2020, nearly half of all U.S. workers will be millennials, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2011 report, Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace. By 2025, they are expected to represent 75 percent of the global work­force. The sheer number of millennials com­bined with the increasing retirement of baby boomers means employers will be facing leadership gaps and looking to millennials to fill them. So who are these future supply chain leaders?

Who are Millennials? millenials_2.jpg

Millennials — also known as Generation Y — include the nearly 2.5 billion young adults born between 1980 and 2000. In the United States alone, there are about 80 million millennials. Many of these young profes­sionals have already entered the workforce, and that number will increase as more graduate college and begin their careers. Millennials have already surpassed Generation X and baby boomers to become the largest gener­ation in the U.S. workforce, representing over 35 percent of all workers. 

By all accounts, millennials are unlike previous generations. They are the most ethnically diverse generation, and they are also the most highly educated. They have developed a reputation for being continuous learners, team players and collaborators who are tech-savvy, optimistic, achieve­ment-oriented and socially conscious. They have also been plagued by negative stereotypes suggesting that they are lazy, narcissistic and entitled, with a constant need for affirmation and praise. 

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UNC Leadership Survey 2016: Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 28, 2016 10:13:23 AM

Diversity and Inclusion Critical to Firm Success, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Survey Shows

Business leaders view inclusiveness and diversity as critical to attracting and retaining top talent, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. The survey was conducted February 24-March 24, 2016; 779 responses were received.


Business leaders view inclusiveness and diversity as critical to attracting and retaining top talent and are very committed to creating inclusive cultures in their firms, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

UNC Kenan-Flagler partnered with Chief Learning Officer, Talent Management and Workforce magazines to conduct the 2016 Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development Survey.CLO.png

Among the findings are: 

  • 75 percent identify creating an inclusive culture as an essential priority
  • 86 percent say diversity is important for improving their bottom-line profits
  • 95 percent believe that an inclusive culture is critical to their organizations’ future success

“The conversation is changing about diversity and inclusion,” said Kip Kelly, UNC Executive Development director of public programs. “Companies are recognizing that diversity is not optional – it is critical to the success and sustainability of every organization. Successful companies are working harder to foster a culture of inclusion, and they’re holding their leaders accountable.”

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Five Tips to Inspire First-Time Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 26, 2016 11:04:18 AM

There are nearly 30,000 books for sale on Amazon dedicated to the topic of leadership, so there is obviously no shortage of writers publishing their thoughts and offering advice. There is also no shortage of leadership positions currently available or about to be available; 500 of the largest U.S. companies are expected to lose half of their senior managers over the next five years, and 70 percent of companies report moderate to severe leadership shortages. As an estimated 85 million baby boomers retire or take on less demanding roles, the global leadership shortage will only escalate.

leadership_tips.jpgI bring a practitioner’s approach to this area with more than 35 years of experience leading large and small organizations. It has been my experience that although there may be differences in organizational cultures and environments that drive different behaviors, the principles of exceptional leadership are constant regardless of whether one works in a hierarchical environment like the military or a matrixed company such as IBM.

I offer the following leadership tips based on my own experience that organizational leaders can use to inspire and direct leadership development in their organizations.  Make sure to download the full white paper for deeper insights on each tip. 

Tip 1: To be a good leader, first be a good follower.
Emerging leaders who work their way up learn about what motivates them and their co-workers and what makes a team work well together to achieve goals. They also learn what good—and not so good—leadership is, and this allows them to develop empathy and compassion for those they will one day lead. In essence, they learn key “followership” lessons that will serve them well when they become leaders.

Tip 2: Listen and learn.
To quote Calvin Coolidge, “no man ever listened himself out of a job,” but it is a skill about 25 percent of corporate leaders aren’t making the most of, according to author and advisor Ram Charan. To hone listening skills, new and emerging leaders should be coached on how to actively listen.

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Developing Agile Business Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 21, 2016 11:57:51 AM

Look around you; everything is changing. The global economy, medicine, technology, the environment, geo-politics…you name it and chances are, it is undergoing dramatic change. Of course, this has always been the case – but the rate of change is increasing. These changes can have dramatic and unexpected consequences for your organization. Just keeping up with the rate of change can be a significant challenge, much less anticipating and staying ahead of the curve. Companies that want to thrive in this constantly evolving business environment need the ability to change quickly – and they need agile business leaders who can learn, develop and adapt quickly.


How can you develop agile business leaders in your organization? While knowledge and experience remain critical, it is becoming increasingly important to develop leaders with the ability to deal with ambiguity and change, to lead and foster innovation and creativity, and to make and implement decisions quickly. Organizations require leaders who can adapt, think on their feet and lead with confidence through the shifting business landscape —all skills and behaviors that can be a challenge for talent managers to develop. Developing these unique capabilities requires a different approach, encouraging some talent management professionals to embrace unconventional methods. Download our white paper below titled Leadership Agility: Using Improv to Build Critical Skills where we will explore the non-traditional method of using improv to develop more agile business leaders.

Click to Download Full White Paper

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