Executive Development Blog

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

5 Leadership Lessons from Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted by Kip Kelly on Aug 7, 2014 11:18:22 AM

GuardiansoftheGalaxyTheatricalPosterGuardians of the Galaxy is the latest adaptation from Marvel Studios. Following in the footsteps of recent blockbusters including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers - Guardians is the tenth installment in Marvel's ever-expanding movie universe. Unlike these other films which feature some of the most well-known and revered superheroes, Guardians of the Galaxy introduces a relatively unknown intergalactic team. These misfits include an assassin, a warrior, a genetically engineered raccoon, and a talking tree. Their leader is a human named Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, who was abducted from Earth and raised by a group of thieves and smugglers.  They are an unlikely team - with more than a few rough edges - but somehow they come together to save the galaxy... offering several great leadership lessons along the way.

First, good leaders rise to the challenge. Peter Quill is not your typical hero. He's a liar, a thief, and sometimes he's kind of a jerk. He's sloppy and irresponsible. Overall - not a great role model. He is selfish, but he puts aside his own interests when duty calls. He rises to the challenge and finds a higher purpose. Many organizations look for star performers to fit a certain mold - and overlook those who don't. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes (though rarely talking trees or raccoons), and sometimes people will surprise you. Organizations need to provide an opportunity for these stars to shine. High-potential employees can learn and grow from experiences which require them to stretch. If you don't give them that chance, they will find it somewhere else.

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Topics: leadership, leadership development

Leadership Tips for Women in Business

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Jul 31, 2014 8:48:07 AM

Women business owners and working women face certain challenges and obstacles that men do not. This is not meant to be an inflammatory statement, just a factual one.  Women still encounter gender discrimination and stereotyping in business and on the job, and working women who have children experience unique demands on their time, energy, and resources.  And while women are certainly not the only ones facing challenges in the workplace, this blog post will offer five ways to help women succeed, despite their many challenges.


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Topics: leadership, UNC, executive education, talent development, leadership development, learning and development

Delusions of Talent Development

Posted by Chad Vamos on Jul 24, 2014 9:34:00 AM

The following is taken from an article written by well-known Talent Practitioner, Marc Effron, in the latest volume of UNC’s talent management journal ideas@work:

Unrealistic expectations make employee development a wasted investment at many companies.  We offer six realistic solutions.


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Topics: talent development, learning and development

The Importance of Mentoring in Leadership Development

Posted by Chad Vamos on Jul 17, 2014 9:26:35 AM

Check out the summary of our most recent white paper by Horace McCormick discussing the importance of mentoring in leadership development.

How to Launch a Successful and Sustainable Mentorship Program

Mentoring is a strategic tool that when done right, can attract and retain high-potential talent and accelerate leadership development and readiness. Mentoring is also an effective tool for shaping organizational culture and closing engagement and generational gaps. Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of mentoring in leadership development. According to a Corporate Executive Board survey, 25 percent of U.S. companies now host peer-mentoring programs, a significant increase from before the 2007 recession, when only 4 to 5 percent of U.S. companies reported sponsoring mentorship programs. Unfortunately, as many business leaders can attest, it can be quite challenging to develop and maintain successful mentoring programs.


Many mentoring programs miss the mark because of a lack of alignment to business goals and strategy and because they fail to clearly articulate the goals of the program from the outset. Others fail because of poor mentor/mentee matches and insufficient training at the beginning of the program. To avoid these pitfalls and launch successful, enduring mentoring programs, HR should use the following steps:

  • Lay the groundwork – business case, buy-in, sponsorship
  • Prepare for the launch – tools, communicate intentions with laser focus
  • Launch the program and train mentors and mentees on process and tools
  • Build relationships and assess progress and momentum
  • Evaluate effectiveness of the mentoring program and pairings at regular intervals

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Topics: leadership, talent development, high-potential talent, leadership development, learning and development

UNC's Talent Development Journal, ideas@work Volume 7 Now Available!

Posted by Susan Cates on Jul 10, 2014 1:00:00 PM

Hello once again from UNC Executive Development. I want to share with you the latest edition of ideas@work, a journal we created specifically for business leaders interested in talent development.

talent management journal

Volume 7 of ideas@work features four new white papers, including Retaining Women in the Workplace which delves into the reasons female business professionals leave the workplace and offers ideas to help organizations retain and develop women leaders. Another white paper, The Neuroscience of Leadership: Practical Applications provides an overview of the emerging field of neuroscience and delves into the implications for leadership development with practical applications in change management, innovation and creativity, and employee engagement. One paper looks at the rapidly shifting demographics in the multi-generational workplace and how companies can leverage the diversity for competitive advantage. We’re also featuring the insights of respected Talent Management Practitioner, Marc Effron, who proposes that the poor execution of employee development processes is rooted in naive optimism about how managers and employees will act.

This edition of ideas@work also includes findings from our latest research project. We recently partnered with the Human Capital Institute to explore how organizations accelerate leadership development. We surveyed over 350 talent development professionals about their leadership development efforts. Our research found that only 21 percent of senior leaders are satisfied with their current bench strength and less than half believe that their current high-potentials have what it takes to meet future business needs. It comes as no surprise that 85 percent report feeling an urgent need to accelerate the development of their high-potential employees. The research reveals several trends in talent development and identifies effective strategies to help you accelerate leadership development in your organization.

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The ROI of Talent Development

Posted by Chad Vamos on Jun 26, 2014 9:40:44 AM

Check out a recent white paper authored by Sarah Perez discussing the importance of employee development.

The ROI of Talent Development

Training and development budgets took big hits across the globe during the recession, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. According to figures released by Bersin by Deloitte in its 2014 Corporate Learning Factbook, spending on corporate training by U.S. employers increased by 15 percent in 2013, the highest growth rate in seven years. In fact, training and development budgets have been steadily recovering for the past several years. In 2011, U.S. spending on training and development increased by 10 percent, and in 2012, it increased by 12 percent. 

talent development blueprint

This is good news. Organizations that invest in the development of their talent benefit by having stronger talent pools, increased retention, lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction rates, and ultimately, healthier and stronger organizations. If HR professionals want to see their training and development budgets fully recover, however, they must be prepared to demonstrate the return-on-investment (ROI) that talent development, particularly talent development at the leadership level, brings to their organizations. 

There are a host of reasons why it makes sense for an organization to invest in the development of its talent. Perhaps the most persuasive argument is that it costs a lot more—some estimates put it at as much as 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary—to recruit new talent than it does to develop existing employees. Investing in talent development is vital for employers because it directly affects employee retention, motivation, engagement, and productivity. 

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Topics: talent management, talent development, learning and development

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