Executive Development Blog

Managing Change During a Leadership Transition

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 25, 2016 2:18:55 PM

The following is taken from an article written by UNC Executive Development’s Kirk Lawrence for The Association for Talent Development. The article focuses on the effects of a presidential transition in a federal agency, but can be applied to any industry when dealing with a change in leadership.

When it comes to presidential transition, no matter what your field is, you should know what your agency’s priorities are moving forward into the next administration. The premise here is “how do I continue to promote or protect those priorities based on the continuity or my organization?”

change-1.jpgThe challenge is keeping organizational priorities validated, relevant, and upfront with a new team that you’re going to have to get on board at the political level. Regardless of where you are in the federal sector, if you’re dealing with a political appointee that’s coming in, that’s the person you have to convince that what you have in place is valid.

However, the considerations don’t stop there. Not only do you need to look at who your stakeholders are (both internally and externally), you need to identify the key influencers of those stakeholders—understanding this bigger picture of who needs to be onboard will be key in making sure everyone is on the same page.

There is an acronym, VUCA, that addresses the environment as transitions are planned and executed.  Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity all contribute to the planning environment—how do you operate in that environment.  How does a potential change in administration contribute to this environment?

Read More

7 Steps to Creating a Lasting Learning Culture

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 20, 2016 11:19:16 AM

Globalization, technological advances, demographic shifts, and rapid business changes make creating a learning culture in organizations more critical than ever. These shifts are also requiring more transformative approaches to learning as leaders struggle with ambiguity, uncertainty, and demands for greater transparency and knowledge. Organizations and individuals must be continuously learning, adapting, and improving or they risk professional obsolescence.

A learning culture is a systematic approach to establishing a personal and organizational growth mindset. It is a culture of inquiry. Organizations with learning cultures encourage employees to constantly add knowledge and develop competence. They encourage employees to have open minds and an independent quest for knowledge and shared learning because these qualities help achieve organizational goals.

learning.jpgTo create a learning culture consider taking the following steps:

1. Rethink the traditional learning and development approach.
It is time for leaders to realize that the way employees want to learn today—through mobile learning applications and other readily accessible online lectures, TEDTalks, webinars, and podcasts—has permanently changed the traditional learning and development process. Employees want more control of their own learning, making learning a continuous process, not one-time-only classroom style events. There is no substitute for the bonding and peer relationships that stimulate learning in formal classroom development, but organizations must integrate mobile learning applications and other learning-on-demand resources into their organizations.

2. Broaden your organization’s definition and understanding of intelligence.
A true learning culture must view intelligence as more than just cognitive skills. Leaders must expand their organizations’ intelligence perspective to include a deeper understanding of emotional and cultural intelligence. As organizations broaden their definition and understanding of intelligence, they must provide employees the necessary skills to manage and value differences in thinking, working, and problem-solving. Leaders must provide emotionally safe environments for people who are easily labeled as “different.” This is the most fundamental responsibility of an inclusive organization that wants to retain its talent.

Read More

Topics: employee engagement, talent development, organizational culture, learning and development

To Be a Good Leader, First Be a Good Follower

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 18, 2016 3:30:49 PM

The Mark Zuckerberg’s of this world—corporate leaders propelled into their positions because of what they created—are few and far between. Most leaders start in much humbler, entry-level positions and work their way up the corporate ladder, and this is a good thing. Emerging leaders who work their way up learn about what motivates them and their co-workers. They also learn about 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.

5_tips_leaders.jpgAccording to Barbara Kellerman, a leadership lecturer at Harvard University, there is a lot a person can learn about being a good leader by being a good follower. Good followers, she says, are passionately committed and deeply involved. They actively support a good leader (one who is effective and ethical). Bad followers, on the other hand, do nothing to contribute to the group or the organization.

Good followers learn to “read” their colleagues, co-workers, customers, and other audiences. They understand what motivates them and what upsets them, skills that they can use when they become leaders. Good followers also learn important diplomacy skills, like the ability to get along well with others while not ignoring differences—for example, working well with a colleague who has different political beliefs. Good followers also need to learn to be courageous. Kellerman notes that good followers can aid the leader when he or she is doing the right thing—but they also have to have the courage to stand up to the leader if he or she is doing something wrong (Moran, 2014).

Read More

Leading Within and Across Different Cultures

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 13, 2016 12:10:11 PM

Many organizations today find that the world is getting smaller. Technological advancements have brought about a global interconnectedness that has forever changed business and social interactions, making it easy to interact with anyone, whether they are across the hall or across the globe. This new interconnectedness transforms how business is done and provides access to a wealth of new business opportunities around the world. Whether finding new and diverse customers, suppliers, partners, talent, or competitors, organizations today have the world at their doorsteps. And while this unprecedented level of interconnectedness brings about enormous opportunities for business growth and expansion, the promise of globalization is not without its fair share of challenges. From overcoming the obstacles of working with people of different cultures and languages to conveying a consistent brand and message across borders, companies today must reassess their talent and their ability to compete for current skillsets and ensure they can achieve global success in a smaller, flatter world.

global.jpgThe new global economy is perhaps best described by the acronym “VUCA.” Coined by the military to describe this global environment facing so many organizations today, VUCA stands for:

  • Volatile: Any company certainly understands that the economic outlook and business demands change quickly; but that change rarely happens in predictable or repeatable ways.
  • Uncertain: Along with this volatility is a great deal of uncertainty. Organizations must recognize that disruptive change is the new normal. The past is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of the future.
  • Complex: The global economy is characterized by great complexity, and companies are often met with challenging, hard-to-understand forces and mitigating factors.
  • Ambiguous: Many companies find that the causes for why things happen are unclear, and as they extend their international reach, there is greater potential for misunderstanding and confusion.

Read More

Don't Forget to Invest in Your Existing Talent

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 11, 2016 2:28:41 PM

There are a host of reasons why it makes sense for an organization to invest in the development of its existing talent. Perhaps the most persuasive argument is that it costs a lot more.  Investing in talent development though, is vital for employers because it directly affects employee retention, motivation, engagement, and productivity. Talent development investment reduces staff turnover because employees are more engaged and satisfied with their jobs and are less likely to leave the organization. Millennial employees, in particular, are interested in learning and have indicated that they are likely to look elsewhere if their employers fail to give them opportunities to learn and acquire new skills.

The cost of turnover and its link to talent development investment should not be overlooked. While there are physical costs involved with turnover, like separation processing costs, overtime, the hiring of search firms and temporary agencies, there are also hidden costs. These hidden costs include lower productivity, lower employee morale, overburdened employees, lost knowledge, and training costs (Lucas, 2013). These real and hidden costs of employee turnover can be significantly minimized when employers invest in their existing talent.

If you’ve found your organization looking for ways to develop your existing talent this year, UNC Executive Development is offering a broad portfolio of two and three-day leadership development programs.  Those on the calendar are:


Read More

How To Avoid Becoming a Toxic Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 6, 2016 2:05:39 PM

Just about any HR or talent management professional who has been in the field for a few years has a supply of war stories about employees and supervisors whose presence and/or leadership style can crush a work environment in no time flat. Employees have their fair share of war stories too. For this reason, there has been increased attention in the government sector on senior leaders whose style and behavior are outside the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. The government is not alone in this; in the private sector, these types of leaders can also create environments that crush morale, destroy employee trust, and ultimately degrade productivity.

Toxic-Workplace.pngIf not addressed, a workplace marked by incivility can quickly become a toxic workplace, an environment in which employees feel unvalued, and not respected (Lavender and Cavaiola, 2014). In truly toxic workplaces, according to Lavender and Cavaiola, people are treated abusively, bullied, harassed, and feel threatened or intimidated. Toxic workplaces lower employee retention and productivity, raise stress, increase health care costs, and can lower workplace safety. In the worst case scenario, a toxic workplace can transcend into a hostile work environment.

UNC Executive Development dove into the topic of toxic workplaces and published its findings in a white paper which:

  • Provides information on how to identify a toxic workplace;
  • Identifies the types of toxic worker behavior, including abusive supervision and workplace bullying;
  • Discusses how toxic workplaces affect employees at all levels;
  • Offers a 3 prong approach on how to prevent toxic behaviors in the workplace, and;
  • Describes how toxic workplaces can become hostile work environments.

Read More

Become a Better Leader by Becoming Resilient

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 4, 2016 1:22:49 PM

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.” 

Developing resiliency is the focus of our upcoming leadership program offered by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School November 16-18, 2016.

The Resilient Leadership Program will offer tools and techniques to overcome stress, avoid burnout and lead more effectively.

Participants of the program will:Resilience-Image.jpg

  • Develop an effective strategy to create a better, more integrated work-life balance
  • Practice new, sustainable techniques to manage stress and avoid burnout
  • Learn to identify and overcome the most common leadership challenges that contribute to misunderstanding, conflict and stress
  • Understand the importance of emotional intelligence while strengthening emotional acumen
  • Understand the dynamics that drive change in an organization

“This is an important topic for organizations to address in order to help their leaders and the bottom line. My own research suggests that stress and fatigue can lead to bad decisions and unethical behavior.”
– Michael Christian, UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty

Read More

Is Your CEO a Woman? If So, You Might Have a More Inclusive Culture

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 29, 2016 11:41:59 AM

Companies with female CEOs are more effective at creating inclusive cultures.

Our recent research this year on diversity and inclusion revealed that companies with female CEOs are doing a better job creating a culture of inclusion.  The study also finds greater confidence in organizations’ ability to achieve diversity and inclusion goals if the CEO is a woman. 

diversity_culture.jpgThe majority of companies surveyed (95 percent) report that an inclusive culture is critical to their organizations’ future success, and most (86 percent) say diversity is important for improving their bottom-line profits. 

The importance of diversity and inclusion is encouraging some companies to change their approach, said Kip Kelly, UNC Executive Development director of public programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “Companies are changing the way they talk about diversity and inclusion, and it seems companies with female CEOs are leading the conversation,” said Kelly. 

Over half (53 percent) of the organizations surveyed have changed their diversity and inclusion competencies or developed them for the first time in the past three years. An additional 12 percent say they plan to change them soon. In contrast, diversity and inclusion competencies have been in place longer and are less likely to have changed recently in companies with a female CEO.

Read More

Find Your Leadership Strengths and Weaknesses

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 27, 2016 11:55:45 AM

The cornerstone to an organization’s growth from within strategy is identification of high-potential talent. Organizations confirm the criticality of high-potential identification to stay competitive, yet current processes are lacking results. A recent leadership survey conducted by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School found that while many talent management professionals reported a high demand for high-potential talent, nearly half (47 percent) said their current high-potential talentleader.png pool did not meet their anticipated needs, and 65 percent said they were only slightly or moderately confident in their organization’s ability to fill mission-critical roles. That same survey found that 84 percent of talent management professionals said the demand for high-potential employees has increased in the past five years due to growth and competitive pressure.

Having a strong pipeline of high-potential talent is vital to organizations because it builds an organization’s competitive advantage for the future.  The only way to grow and retain top talent, is to invest in their development.  UNC Executive Development will offer a 3-day leadership course for current and emerging leaders.  The Leadership Effectiveness Workshop will allow participants to sharpen the leadership skills needed for both personal and professional growth, learn more about their own leadership style, and how to effectively maximize their strengths as leaders. 

To learn more about this program for yourself or others in your organization, download a brochure by clicking below.

Learn More about  Leadership Workshop

Read More

Neuroscience and Leadership

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 22, 2016 12:11:02 PM

In the not so distant past, the conventional definition of an effective leader was one who got results, boosted the bottom line, and generally forced productivity out of his or her employees. As HR and talent management professionals know all too well, some of the management practices used to get these results were at the cost of employee motivation, retention, trust, and ultimately the bottom line. With a window into neuroscience, today we have more insight into how to improve leadership behaviors.

neuroscience-1.jpgFor example, a study (cited in Boyatzis, n.d.) found a link between effective leaders and resonant relationships with others. The study, using fMRI technology, found that when middle managers were asked to recall specific experiences with “resonant” leaders, 14 regions of the brain were activated. When asked to recall specific experiences with “dissonant” leaders, only six regions of the brain were activated and 11 regions were deactivated. The regions of the brain activated for resonant leaders were associated with exciting attention, activating the social system, and other regions associated with “approach” relationships. Dissonant leaders deactivated the social system and activated regions of the brain associated with narrowing attention, lowering compassion, and triggering negative emotions (Boyatzis, n.d.).

There is also a physical connection in the brain associated with trust, an emotion that is increasingly cited as a critical leadership trait to exhibit. A 2008 study identified a chemical in the brain called oxytocin that when released, makes a person more receptive to feel trust toward a stranger (Meacham, 2013). The brain actually determines trustworthiness within milliseconds of meeting a person. That initial determination is continually updated when more information is received or processed, as the brain takes in a person’s appearance, gestures, voice tone, and the content of what is said. What this means for leaders is that it is possible to build trust among employees even if it has been lacking in the past.

Read More