Executive Development Blog

Advancing Women in Leadership and Why It's a Good Idea

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 30, 2016 10:54:45 AM

Traditional workplaces have been slow to accommodate women. As a result, record numbers of women are leaving the labor force, a trend that is detrimental to women and organizations. It is possible, with the right programs, policies, and organizational cultures, to not only retain high-potential women, but to develop them to be organizational leaders.

Cheryl Carleton, an assistant professor of economics at Villanova University, proposes five ways to advance women as leaders in organizations:

  1. Women-Leader.jpgEnsure accountability. Managers should be held accountable for the amount of diversity on their teams by tying their salaries and performance evaluations to diversity levels.
  1. Measure and reward invisible work. Women often play supportive, collaborative roles in organizations. These are important, but often overlooked attributes. Employers should make sure people are recognized for the valuable but often invisible work they do. If this work is never acknowledged, employees—mostly women—in these roles will never be promoted.
  1. Rethink scheduling. Offer the flexibility men and women want.
  1. Address culture. All the policies and programs are wasted if the organizational culture discourages their use.
  1. Be an example. Women are often leery of taking advantage of maternity and flexible leave because they fear being labeled as “Mommy.” Senior leaders must set the example and participate in leave programs (Carleton, 2013).

More companies are also fostering women leaders by assigning sponsors to high-potential women. Sponsors can actively champion women and move them up the career ladder. HR and talent management professionals can also monitor retention and promotion rates for female and male employees and report on the use of flexible programs and other family-friendly policies. This increased transparency is important not only in terms of accountability, but also in signaling to all employees the importance of retention, promotion, and flexibility in the company’s culture.

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Topics: leadership

Do Your Leaders Have the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities to Succeed?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 28, 2016 10:18:17 AM

You can spend a lifetime reading about leadership; a quick Internet search will show that there are nearly 70,000 books on the subject available through Amazon.com and more than two million research articles. Thought leaders at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School have condensed the best of these publications into an effective continuous learning cycle that HR and talent management professionals can incorporate into their organizations’ leadership development programs to strengthen each individual’s ability to learn and adapt as a leader. The continuous learning cycle is an integrated approach that focuses on the following four core components and produces solid results in leadership development.

The Continuous Learning Cycle

1. Principles
Principles are the knowledge, skills and abilities leaders need to possess. The first step in an organization’s leadership Closing_the_Gaps_in_Leadership_Development.bmpdevelopment plan begins with identifying what knowledge, skills and abilities need to be further developed in the organization.

2. Practice
Identifying an area for development is not enough. Leadership studies have repeatedly shown that the best way to learn, particularly for adults, is through practical experience such as on-the-job, project-based work and action learning. Companies that excel at offering such leadership development opportunities include Unilever, IBM, Novo Nordisk, ABN Amro and BG Group. Examples of hands-on action learning opportunities include coaching others, leading a meeting, team building, or even taking an expatriate assignment.

3. Feedback
The pioneer of leadership studies Warren Bennis once said: “Make sure you have someone in your life from whom you can get reflective feedback.” Honest feedback is critical to a leader’s success, and as such, organizations must foster cultures where leaders can give and receive it. Feedback can come in many forms--mentoring and coaching, performance reviews, personality assessments, and monitoring reactions to written and verbal communications (e.g., combative, supportive, tense, etc.). Feedback helps individuals gather information about how others view their strengths and development opportunities.

4. Reflection
In this continuing learning cycle, reflection means taking the time to put the principles, practice and feedback into context. Did the leadership development experience deliver the intended results? Why or why not? 

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Topics: leadership development

Understanding Human Capital Analytics

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 23, 2016 11:09:59 AM

Human capital analytics, also known as human resources analytics or talent analytics, is the application of sophisticated data mining and business analytics techniques to human resources data. Collecting and analyzing data in human resources is not new, but several converging trends have helped to accelerate the growth of human capital analytics. First, the amount of data that is available to companies is growing exponentially, and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Recent technologies have emerged to help companies capture unstructured data and combine it with structured data to provide new and valuable insights. Cheaper, faster technologies have made it more affordable than ever to collect and analyze large datasets. Annual and quarterly reports are giving way to real-time decision making and predictive analytics. These trends are all working together to create a brave new world for human resources professionals.


The trend of using human capital analytics in decision making has made 2015, according to Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, the “year for analytics.” He writes in a recent report that in 2015, “it is becoming imperative for HR teams to invest in talent analytics….(T)his means bringing together the reporting and analytics teams in recruiting, compensation, engagement, learning, and leadership, and putting together a plan to evaluate (the) workforce with a holistic data perspective.” Assembling this team and launching the process, he notes, will take two to three years for a company to complete (Bersin, 2015).

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It's Time to Get Serious about Managing Your Talent

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 21, 2016 10:57:37 AM

Most business leaders pay little more than lip service when it comes to talent management. A survey on talent management by Bersin by Deloitte found that only one-third of employers in the United States said they had identified critical roles or talent segments in their organizations based on business goals. Further, less than 10 percent of respondents said they had reached a stage where talent management was part of their annual business planning process and that talent management was “truly owned by business leaders and line managers,” and only 7 percent of respondents said they had a strategic talent management program in place (O’Leonard, 2010).

talent-1.jpgFor many organizations, particularly those in a growth stage, the lack of a strategic talent management program is costly. Organizations that have a strategic talent management program in place generate more than twice the revenue per employee than those without programs, have a 40 percent lower employee turnover rate, and have a 38 percent higher level of employee engagement (Bersin, 2012).

There are any number of reasons why business leaders undervalue talent management. As Edward Lawler noted in an article for Forbes, some business leaders believe their organizations can survive without top talent. Other business leaders may acknowledge that talent management is important, but not as important as other business functions like finance or technology. Still other business leaders simply fail to see the link between talent and their organization’s business strategy because their backgrounds are not in HR and talent management (Lawler, 2014). As Lawler notes, it is the HR and talent management professional’s responsibility to help business leaders see—and embrace—that link.

Time to get serious about developing your talent?  Take a look at our upcoming program calendar to see how we can help.

  Click to Learn More about UNC's Leadership Programs

For more information on talent management, download the UNC white paper on the topic titled Designing Talent Management to Meet an Organization’s Strategic Needs.

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Should High-Potential Employees be Informed That They are High Potentials?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 16, 2016 11:41:19 AM

To answer this question we looked to Marc Effron. Marc is president of The Talent Strategy Group and co-author of One Page Talent Management (2010: Harvard Business Review).  He also teaches in UNC’s Talent Management Institute.  He expressed his insights on the topic in "The Case for Transparency".

The most compelling reason to tell employees of their high-potential status is that studies have shown a strong correlation between companies that have open performance conversations with employees and better financial performance. According to recent studies, companies in the upper quartile of total shareholder return are nearly three times more likely to tell high performers of their status than companies in the lowest quartile.HIPOS.png

In addition, telling employees that they are "high potential" is a powerful signal that the organization values their contributions and believes in them enough to invest in their future. In today's competitive marketplace for leadership talent, consistent and meaningful messages like these go a long way toward encouraging key talent to stay with the organization.

Not telling employees of their high-potential status creates an increased risk that they will go to an organization that will recognize and develop their talent. High-potential employees tend to know that they have high potential, whether they're officially told or not. And they're not alone. Headhunters know it, their peers know it, and industry colleagues know it. If their employer doesn't tell them, there's a good chance someone else will.

Finally, telling employees of their high-potential status can give employers an edge in the ongoing challenge to attract and retain key talent. By developing a formalized high-potential program and maintaining it over time, companies can build a reputation as a place where people can grow as leaders, prove themselves through a variety of opportunities, and build rewarding careers. As a result, companies can gain greater access to the best talent at a lower overall recruiting cost to drive competitive advantage.  

To learn more on this topic download a copy of the UNC white paper below titled, Identifying High-Potential Talent in the Workplace.  Also, consider attending the upcoming Talent Management Institute and learn more from Mark Effron and Jim Shanley on the topic of high-potential talent in your organization.

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Topics: talent development

Developing Leaders in a Competitive World

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 14, 2016 12:19:41 PM

Businesses today face a number of challenges to operate efficiently and maintain competitive advantage and it is often incumbent upon company leadership to provide the proper direction to help their teams navigate these challenges and adapt appropriately. Without a steady pipeline of talented individuals with the knowledge, skills and experience to step into leadership roles, or an effective process to identify high-potential employees and give them the necessary training to be effective leaders, the company will be unprepared to handle the changes and challenges of the future.

For over 60 years, UNC Executive Development has partnered with organizations to create customized executive development programs to answer their business challenges. As a part of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC Executive Development brings the School's experience, reputation and noted faculty to these challenging and impactful programs. Download this brochure for a brief summary of UNC Executive Development's custom and open-enrollment executive education capabilities. 

We're always updating and adding new programs to our calendar. Click here to see what's currently scheduled.

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Topics: leadership, talent development, change

Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 9, 2016 11:00:55 AM

Leveraging diversity in the workplace has become a critical challenge for many organizations, and this challenge has only become more complex over time. Demographic changes and evolving social attitudes mean the workplace is less homogenized now than ever before, which necessitates the ability to manage cross-culturally if organizations wish to remain competitive in a global marketplace. Postponed retirement goals have led to an unprecedented five generations all working together, as older generations delay retirement and work alongside Gen Xers, millennials, and postmillennials. The influx of younger workers also has brought about a shift in workplace demographics: millennials — now the largest generational group in the workforce — are also the most racially diverse generation in history. The number of men and women in the workforce is nearing parity; women will make up 51 percent of total labor force growth by 2018 and currently make up 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. In addition, more connection to people across the globe and shifting attitudes and policies regarding LBGTQ issues all add up to a workforce that is culturally and racially diverse. 

DiversityinWorkplace.jpgTo succeed in this environment, organizations will need their leaders to adopt management styles that not only accept this new workplace paradigm but champion it, recognizing that diversity in appearance, attitude, thought, and deed leads to organizational value. Managers cannot lead as they may have in the past, because how one group responds to direction may not work for all groups in the workplace. Leadership must grow and foster an inclusive labor force, and how well leaders respect, respond to, and use the diversity in their organizations to create value can be a key differentiator in both marketing their organization as an employer of choice and driving business growth.

How are organizations redefining the competencies their leaders need to manage a more diverse, globally distributed workforce? What qualities are they focusing on? How are leaders asked to support diversity and inclusion goals, and how is success measured? To answer these questions and more, the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group — the research arm of Chief Learning Officer magazine — partnered with the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School to study the current state of diversity competencies for leadership development. Download our white paper below which summarizes our research and findings from nearly 800 survey participants.

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UNC Among the Best in Financial Times 2016 Rankings

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 7, 2016 11:36:17 AM

ft-exed-2016.jpgFor over 60 years, UNC Executive Development has partnered with organizations to create customized executive development programs to answer their business challenges. As a part of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC Executive Development brings the School's experience, reputation and noted faculty to these challenging and impactful programs. 

The Financial Times just released its 2016 rankings of custom executive education providers and UNC once again ranked among the best.

UNC is the No. 1 public university offering customized executive education in the United States, according to the latest rankings from the Financial Times. In 2016, the Financial Times ranked UNC Executive Development No. 13 overall in the world and No. 3 in the United States among customized executive education providers. UNC Executive Development also ranked highly in many individual categories, notably No. 2 for facilities and No. 5 for aims achieved and program design in the world and No. 1 among U.S. providers for faculty.

UNC Executive Development ranked among the top 3 customized executive education providers in the U.S. in the latest Financial Times rankings on the following criteria:top3.jpg

  • Faculty (No. 1)
  • Value for money (No. 2)
  • Aims achieved (No. 2)
  • Program design (No. 2)
  • Facilities (No. 2)
  • New skills and learning (No. 3)
  • Teaching methods/materials (No. 3)

Our current Financial Times customized executive education rankings

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Brain Drain, or Brain Trust? You Decide.

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 2, 2016 11:34:47 AM

The statistics of an aging workforce tell the story. A baby boomer turns 65 every eight seconds -- over 7,000 per day. While many may delay retirement for financial and personal reasons, employers are worried—and rightfully so—that they will face a shortage of experienced workers over the next five years. The brain drain resulting from retirements in key business functions can be devastating. Organizations that ignore the looming crisis will suffer the consequences later. The good news is that many senior leaders want to give back and create a legacy in their organization. You can seize the opportunity and engage your most senior leaders before they retire and harvest their collective experience to shape the next generation of leaders in your organization. If you want to take action, here are five steps to avoid the brain drain and turn your baby boomers into a brain trust.knowledge-transfer-two_1.jpg

Step 1: Conduct a Strategic Workforce Analysis
The ability to accurately forecast when you will lose top talent across the organization is critical to succession planning and business continuity. A strategic workforce analysis should be conducted internally to anticipate the effect of retirement over the next five and 10 years and beyond.

Step 2: Refine Your Retention Strategy
Although retirement is inevitable, keeping senior workers in the labor force a little longer will provide more time to transfer knowledge. Baby boomers, however, aren’t looking for business as usual. They want flexibility.

Step 3: Identify, Prioritize and Engage Potential Retirees
There was a time when predicting the retirement of your senior leaders may have seemed relatively straightforward. Once you’ve identified the employees who represent the greatest retirement risk, talk to them about their future plans and aspirations within the organization.

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How to Create Ethical Behavior in Your Organization

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 31, 2016 10:50:32 AM

Sreedhari_Desai_HiRes.jpgDr. Sreedhari Desai is an assistant professor of organizational behavior here at UNC.  She researches how individuals behave in organizations, with a focus on ethical decision making, fairness and gender diversity.  Dr. Desai teaches in a number of the custom and open enrollment executive development courses.

In her work on ethics, for instance, Dr. Desai investigates broadly the role of ethical nudges or non-coercive ways of leading people down moral pathways. In her work on fairness, she examines how recalling unfair experiences from the past causes people to behave more fairly toward others. In her work related to gender diversity, she explores the influence of traditional marriage structures on egalitarian attitudes toward working women. Across all these projects Dr. Desai relies on carefully designed laboratory experiments paired with real-world data in her exploration of answers.

What are the most effective ways to get people to behave ethically in the workplace?

Dr. Desai answers this question and shares her insights from her research in this re:Work with Google video. Check it out!



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