Executive Development Blog

The Real Effects of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 8, 2015 10:47:04 AM

UNC Executive Development paper on unconscious bias

Unconscious biases are a fact of life. Everyone harbors them and takes them into the workplace. Unconscious biases in the workplace can stymie diversity, recruiting and retention efforts, and unknowingly shape an organization’s culture. Unconscious bias can skew talent and performance reviews. It also affects who gets hired, promoted, and developed—and this unwittingly undermines an organization’s culture. HR and talent management professionals must ask the question, “To what extent are our organizational culture and business results being affected by unconscious bias?” 

Biases can be based on skin color, gender, age, height, weight, introversion versus extroversion, marital and parental status, disability status (for example, the use of a wheelchair or a cane), foreign accents, where someone went to college, and more. If you can name it, there is probably an unconscious bias for it.

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The Key to Sustained Competitive Advantage: Talent

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 6, 2015 11:19:33 AM

Businesses must adjust to the complex, immense, and constantly changing forces shaping our world. UNC Executive Development works with professionals and their organizations to drive successful change and to develop their talent in today's volatile business environment. With a range of open-enrollment programs plus client-specific customized programs, UNC Executive Development offers many different solutions to help tackle the many different challenges out there. To gain a deeper understanding of the type of executive development programs offered by UNC Executive Development, we examine one of the open-enrollment programs: the Talent Management Institute.

Talent ManagementIn a complex environment, superior talent remains the surest path to sustained competitive advantage. Yet organizations are finding that traditional approaches to talent building are falling short of expectations. The Talent Management Institute has been designed to build the skills and capabilities of HR and talent management leaders and provide them with the tools necessary to design and execute a flawless talent management strategy.

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What Exactly is a High-Potential Employee?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 1, 2015 11:53:43 AM

A high-potential employee is one who has been identified as having the potential, ability, and aspiration to hold successive leadership positions in an organization (Bersin by Deloitte staff, n.d.). Once identified, they are often singled out for focused developmental opportunities designed to prepare them for future leadership positions. High-potential employees constitute the top 3-5 percent of a company’s talent (Nikravan, 2011).


HR and talent management professionals have good reason to identify and develop high-potential employees. Key drivers to do so, according to respondents of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Leadership Survey, include the need to prepare the organization to meet the anticipated increased demand for future leaders (83 percent); to retain key talent (83 percent); and to improve organizational performance (73 percent). Developing high-potential employees also makes it more likely that they will stick around and benefit the organization rather than taking their talent to a competitor.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, authors Doug Ready, Jay Conger, and Linda Hill identified four “X” factors that are common among high-potential employees. High-potential employees, Ready et al contend, are all hardwired with the following traits:

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Innovation: It's Not an Option

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 29, 2015 12:15:07 PM

Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the competition. Industry-leading companies incorporate innovation strategically in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Leaders must strive for new ways of doing business in order to prepare for and adapt to change and stay ahead of the competition.

UNC faculty member, Dr. Sridhar Balasubramanian teaches in the 3-day Strategic Innovation Executive Development program.  In an interview on the topic, he was asked the following question:

Why is it important for an organization to master innovation?inno

“There are multiple reasons why it is important for organizations to master innovation.  First of all, the world is becoming increasingly competitive.  Fifty years back you only talked about competition from your local region.  Today, you produce a product, you try to patent it, but within about six months somebody … some company in Asia has produced something pretty close and they worked around your patents as well.  The only way to respond to a situation like that is to be relentlessly innovative.  Only companies that constantly challenge what they do, challenge themselves to come up with new and different ways of doing things, and also constantly improve on things that they already do will survive in this new globally competitive environment.  That’s very, very important. 

Customer expectations are also sky high.  Customers today have very little patience with products that are old.  If you think about baby boomers, they often think about a product as being around for, say, 30 years as tried and tested.  Whereas a Generation Y member thinks of such a product as simply being tired.  Innovation cycles are becoming rapidly shorter, which means that companies have to be constantly on their toes, turning out new products, new services, and often new solutions because customers today don’t just want a product or a service.  They want companies that solve their problems. 

All of this means that to thrive in today’s rapidly changing globally competitive environment, companies have no option but to be innovative.”

UNC Executive Development has designed a workshop on strategic innovation for this fall.  Over the course of three days, you will examine case studies featuring business innovation at its best, and you will learn how to make strategic business innovation a norm. You will also gain an understanding of the various forms of innovation and explore the difference between incremental and radical innovation. With this business innovation training, you will be able to engage in effective strategic business planning and innovation implementation. 

  Learn More about  Strategic Innovation

UNC Executive Development offers a broad portfolio of leadership development programs.  Be sure to check out our calendar here to see if any of our programs fits your development needs.

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Do You Have a Total Rewards Strategy?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 24, 2015 11:41:42 AM

Total rewards are the comprehensive monetary and non-monetary return employers provide employees in exchange for their time, talents, efforts, and results (Christofferson and King, 2006). These returns include health care services such as medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage, wellness offerings such as assessment and screenings, retirement benefits such as pensions, 401(k)s, and retiree medical and life insurance, work-life programs such as paid and unpaid time off, dependent care, short-term and long-term disability, and flexible work schedules (Kwon and Hein, 2013). They also include base salary, bonus, stock options, variable pay, executive salary, and perks like company cars. 

The WorldatWork Alliance for Work-Life Progress includes career opportunities as part of a total rewards strategy, a practice an increasing number of employers are adopting. Career opportunities include learning in the form of tuition assistance, corporate universities, attending seminars and conferences, self-development, challenge assignments, and even sabbaticals. Coaching and mentoring also fall into this category, along with advanced opportunities like overseas assignments, career ladders and pathways, and providing employees on and off ramps throughout their careers.


Good total rewards packages attract, retain, and motivate employees to do their best work, and they should be modified on a regular basis to keep employees engaged and to meet employees’ changing personal and professional needs during their career cycles.

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Can You Define Leadership?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 22, 2015 12:26:52 PM

Can you define leadership?  Odds are you can, but your definition will be slightly different than any of your colleagues.  Here’s how some would define it:

"Leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less."
- John Maxwell

“Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.”
- John Kotter

“Leadership is about service to others and a commitment to developing more servants as leaders. It involves co-creation of a commitment to a mission.”
- Robert Greenleaf

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
- John Quincy Adams,

Here’s how some of our UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty approach the topic:

UNC Executive Development has designed a three day Leadership Effectiveness Workshop specifically for business professionals who lead and influence others in their organization.  The Leadership Effectiveness Workshop will allow you to sharpen the leadership skills needed for both personal and professional growth while learning more about your own leadership style and how to effectively maximize your strengths as a leader.

Learn More about  Leadership Workshop

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The New Business Imperative: Women in Leadership

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 17, 2015 11:07:47 AM

Nearly 50 years ago, The Personnel Administrator (the precursor to the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine) published the article, “Women at Work: One of the Most Controversial Issues of the Sixties,” by Dr. Daniel Kruger. The article examined the societal, labor and economic forces that were compelling women to join the workforce. As to why he wrote the article, Kruger noted that “our concern here is with the role of women in the labor force. We leave others to discuss the impact of working women on family life, mental health, juvenile delinquency and on society as a whole.” (SHRM, 2008).


The debate surrounding women in the workforce has shifted somewhat in 50 years, but it still continues. In 1964, women comprised nearly 40 percent of the U.S. labor force (up from 32 percent in 1948). Today, women make up 61 percent of the labor force and are attaining college-level degrees at a faster rate than their male counterparts [Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in U.S. Department of Commerce et al, 2011].

There are definite rewards for organizations that target women in their recruiting, development and retention efforts. A Thomson Reuters study found that organizations which are ahead of their peers in breaking the glass ceiling tend to have share prices that outperform their competitors, particularly in difficult market conditions (Chanavat, n.d.). And, a 2007 McKinsey study found that organizations with a higher percentage of women in top management positions had a 17 percent higher growth in stock prices and a 1.1 percent larger return on equity (Landis et al, 2011).

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Leading Your Sales Force in a Competitive World

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 15, 2015 12:00:31 PM

Achieving efficient sales results in an increasingly competitive world is a difficult task. Only by establishing a modern sales force management system and by selecting and training effective sales management personnel can today’s firms compete effectively in the field.

UNC Kenan-Flagler is committed to training and developing the next generation of sales leaders.  Did you know that fewer than three dozen of the 4000 schools in North America teach sales as a discipline?  Only a handful of business schools are actively engaged in researching sales, sales management and the integration between sales and marketing. 

New for 2015, UNC Executive Development has worked with Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty member Dave Roberts in the design of a 3-day Sales Management program. UNC has established a leadership position in teaching sales management and our non-degree executive education programs are consistently ranked among the best in the world by BloombergBusinessweek and the Financial Times.

Take a moment to hear from Dave Roberts:



Program Audience

This Sales Management program is for high-potential and mid-level managers or directors who:

  • Have a minimum of five years of experience
  • Are concerned with the translation of their marketing strategy through a sales force
  • Have a direct responsibility for the organization’s selling efforts
  • Are involved in sales team management

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How to Make the Case for Leadership Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 10, 2015 10:52:40 AM

The following are highlights from the UNC white paper titled, Making the Business Case for Learning and Development: 5 Steps for Success

Human resource and talent management professionals can turn today’s economic challenges into opportunity and become true strategic partners by creating strong business cases for their learning and development initiatives. To do so, HR can no longer measure the return on investment (ROI) of learning and development after the programs have been implemented. Instead, they should calculate and anticipate the returns these initiatives will have on their organization’s bottom line.brain-1

With the proper focus and understanding of how learning and development programs contribute to corporate profits, spending on training and development can be viewed as an investment with the potential for strong returns rather than as a disposable business cost.  Below, you’ll find steps that can change your own and your senior management’s perception of learning and development programs and of the value these programs provide to your organization.

Step #1: Know Your Organization’s Strategic Priorities
The turbulent economy of the past few years has put even seemingly recession-proof industries like health care and utilities on edge. Such volatility often makes it easier to think in terms of short-term survival, rather than long-range strategy. Yet it is crucial to focus on what is important (long-term strategic priorities), rather than on what is urgent.  Make it your business—even a job duty—to know and understand your organization’s strategic priorities and keep these priorities in mind when developing your learning and development programs.

Step #2: Know How Your Department Contributes to Those Priorities
Understanding your organization’s strategic initiatives will help you better focus on how the learning and development function can contribute to achieving these priorities. Two key questions to ask are:

- How can your existing learning and development programs help support the business strategy?
- What new learning and development programs may be needed to assist in achieving those goals?

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Key Elements of Integrity

Posted by Chris Hitch on Sep 8, 2015 11:55:28 AM

hitchDuring the first post on this series (view here), I argued that demonstrating ROI for Integrity is a key leadership challenge at all levels. If you are an individual contributor or a leader in any organization, you justifiably ask, “Does integrity make a difference or is a lack of integrity simply the cost of doing business today?”

I’ve observed that integrity is one of the key factors of leadership. This post digs deeper on some elements of integrity I’ve witnessed and read about over 25 years that have proven to be most important. Integrity is critical whether you are a formal leader or an individual contributor who leads informally.

You read, watch, and see instances of destructive behaviors. Demonstrating integrity is harder and easier now with our 24/7 news cycle and the incessant social media where you know you are being watched or recorded. Demonstrating integrity simply sets you apart in a very positive manner. A recent Google search of “lack of integrity” created over 3 million results. 

What Do You Value? Before you can act with integrity, you have to define and make explicit what you value. Almost every organization has a set of core values embedded in either a mission statement or statement of core values. Additionally, almost everyone can talk about personal values that they espouse or say are important.  Both of those are necessary but insufficient.  Enron seems to be the classic case of being unethical. What’s chilling about these unethical decisions made by people at many levels of the company is the complete disregard of their stated values in this video clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl6uF80FWzs) juxtaposed against the actions of formal and informal leaders at many levels as seen in this documentary. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w6duQhWuVk

Key Elements of Integrity

Integrity is the foundation for leadership. Your teammates, your colleagues, your peers, your clients, and your loved ones need to be able to count on you. Integrity means “all together” or "whole cloth”. GEN Shelton, the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted to me that “ a person with strong moral character and integrity is someone you can trust implicitly. Their word is their bond. If a person with integrity tells you they are going to commit to do something, they will do it.” (www.hughshelton.com).  I’ve listed ten elements of integrity I’ve observed through work with over 6,000 individual contributors, managers, executives, and those at the highest levels of leadership in multiple organizations and industries. 

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