Executive Development Blog

Got Collaboration?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 27, 2015 11:11:09 AM

Collaboration can re-invigorate organizations by fully engaging employees, improving retention, and increasing innovation. It can help employees thrive in an ever-changing, diverse workplace. However, as organizations grow, employees scatter through telework and multiple locations, budgets shrink, and workloads expand, collaboration remains a challenge. Unfortunately, many senior leaders view collaboration as a skill that is best applied on selected projects, rather than as an organization-wide cultural value that should be embedded in the company’s fabric.collaboration

This can be seen in the conclusions drawn from a Corporate Executive Board survey on the nature of collaboration in today’s workplaces. The survey confirmed that jobs require more collaboration today than they did three years ago, and that more employees need to regularly coordinate their work with people from different units and supervisory levels. The study concluded that collaboration should be encouraged among teams when projects have a high-potential impact; when diverse perspectives would help the project get completed; and when participants share similar goals (CEB staff, n.d.).

CEB’s conclusion about when to encourage collaboration among teams recognizes the contribution that collaboration can bring to an organization, but it does not go far enough. Most organizations share a similarly narrow definition and relegate collaboration to an activity best used on complex, high-impact projects. A truly collaborative environment involves all organizational levels and is infused in an organization’s cultural identity and day-to-day operations.

Download a copy of our research below that:

  • Redefines collaboration and establishes what a truly collaborative environment is;
  • Lists the benefits of sustained collaboration;
  • Examines why collaboration often fails in organizations;
  • Explores the building blocks required for effective collaboration, and;
  • Provides steps on how to encourage collaboration in the workplace.

  Click to Download Full White Paper

Interested in developing your leadership potential or others in your organization?  Check out our calendar of upcoming programs at UNC Executive Development here.

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Develop a Managerial Appreciation of Accounting and Finance

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 25, 2015 11:11:03 AM

Managers need both financial acumen and financial insight to succeed. Regardless of formal qualifications, talented individuals come to a point in their careers when future success depends on understanding the fundamentals of managerial accounting and financial reporting. Executives without a strong financial background can spend many frustrating hours trying to interpret financial reporting data.  For this reason, UNC Executive Development offers a Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers program.

During this three-day leadership program, you will quickly learn the managerial and financial accounting skills and concepts needed to define and measure your company’s financial performance. Equipped with this financial knowledge, you will be able to make more informed, effective decisions within the organization.

The Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers program curriculum consists of interactive lectures, class discussions, group-based cases, quizzes and Excel analyses. The goal of this seminar is to make sure the questions you have about financial reporting and analysis get answered. The program will focus on the following topics: 

  • Accounting & The Organizationaccounting2-1
  • Financial Statements
  • Costs and Profit
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Finance
  • Value Creation (And Destruction)
  • Basic Financial Math
  • Capital Budgeting
  • Valuing A Firm

The Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers program is taught by Professor John Hand, PhD of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty. John Hand, is the H. Allen Andrew Distinguished professor of Accounting and Finance.  He teaches Financial Statements to MBA and Masters of Accounting students and has been the lead instructor for Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers since 2012.

The Financial Analysis For Non-Financial Managers program is held at the Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Rizzo Conference Center offers unparalleled conference venues, meeting facilities, and hotel accommodations that are designed and built to encourage meaningful reflection and lasting learning.

Learn More about  Finance & Accounting  

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Do You Know the Value of Strong Leadership?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 20, 2015 10:00:00 AM

closing_the_gapsThe bottom line from leadership study after leadership study: the better the leader, the better the organizational performance. According to a 2011 Development Dimensions International (DDI) leadership forecast, organizations identified in the study as the top third in overall leadership quality out-performed organizations in the bottom third in workforce retention, employee engagement, organizational performance and the passion to lead. “Passion to lead” was defined in the study as “those in leadership positions who are committed to and enjoy their roles as leaders for the right reasons: helping see their company, teams and each individual they manage succeed”. These organizations also report increased customer satisfaction and productivity.

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What is Return on Integrity (and Why is it Important?)

Posted by Chris Hitch on Aug 18, 2015 10:34:29 AM

This is Part 1 of a series of blog posts written by UNC Program Director, Chris Hitch.

hitchDuring an executive development program of high potential mid career professionals, we talked about a significant problem. “We’re told over and over that we need to achieve very high financial performance. We’re all very driven people. So, we do what we need to do to achieve those goals. Yet, there are times when l see where we cut some corners. Most of the time, it’s not a problem. But each time I see it, I worry about our partners’ reaction if they find out."  

I’d be willing to bet that we all have this same issue. We want to do the right thing all the time. That’s a key to integrity. But there are times when I ask, “Is there a return on doing the right thing? Is there a return on having integrity?”

This is a challenge as old as time itself, going back to David and Bathsheba (Ludwig and Longnecker, 1993, Journal of Business Ethics, 12:265-273) and Machiavelli (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1232/1232-h/1232-h.htm#link2HCH0017). I’ve worked in leadership development with over 6,000 managers and executives in multiple industries since 1995. A key element focuses on “What is the right thing to do here? How do we ‘walk the talk’ between what we say and what we do?  How do we act with integrity?” One thing I’ve learned is that integrity is NOT a single decision by a monolithic organization. Integrity comes down to individual public and private decision making. Here at UNC, we’re working through the far-reaching effects of the decisions of a few people who have created an historic academic and athletic cheating scandal (http://www.unc.edu/spotlight/wainsteins-report-into-irregular-classes-released/).

I’m not naïve. I’ll bet that there is no one in your company that wakes up one morning and says “How can I lie, cheat, or steal at work today?“ Acting with integrity is based on your values. Your values foundation occurred a long time ago. Behaving unethically doesn’t start with one big decision to be unethical. Rather, we are all vulnerable to the same slippery slope, where we begin with small, seemingly inconsequential indiscretions, which lead to a slippery slope where unethical behavior erodes over time (source: https://hbr.org/2014/09/how-unethical-behavior-becomes-habit/) .

Just like high performers in all fields return to the basics on a consistent basis, these insights on acting with integrity can help you and your team focus on the fundamentals in your team on a daily basis. I’ll submit that acting with integrity has a positive ROI (Return on Integrity).

In this short series, I’ll make the case that acting with integrity has a significant financial return for you and for your organization. I’ll outline some key elements of integrity. I’ll also share some key insights (from research and the workplace) of specific actions you can continue to take to grow your integrity.

Acting with integrity isn’t just doing the right thing. It makes great financial sense as well.

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Designing Talent Management to Meet an Organization's Strategic Needs

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 13, 2015 9:19:53 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.

When is it time to plan your talent management strategy?

For 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.

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. As Lawler notes, it is the HR and talent management professional’s responsibility to help business leaders see—and embrace—that link.

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Spotlight on UNC's Dr. Sreedhari Desai

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 11, 2015 12:07:46 PM

For over sixty years, UNC Executive Development has partnered with professionals and organizations to offer executive development programs to answer current business challenges.  What sets us apart from others, is our exceptional faculty. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s accessible faculty members bring their research leadership to bear on issues shaping the future of business.  UNC Executive Development was ranked #2 internationally for faculty in the 2015 Financial Times executive education rankings. 

Sreedhari_Desai_HiResHere at UNC Executive Development, we are pleased to have Dr. Sreedhari Desai teach in a number of our programs.  Dr. Desai is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Kenan-Flagler Business School. Dr. Desai was previously a research fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a fellow at the Women and Public Policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Prior to joining UNC Kenan-Flagler, she was a research fellow in the Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. Recently, the Financial Times was able to catch up with her to ask 10 questions about her professional career thus far.  One question that stuck out was:

Why did you choose Kenan-Flagler Business School?  Because of the lovely weather in North Carolina, of course! No, jokes apart, the degree of collegiality and community that is present at UNC Kenan-Flagler is unmatched. We are a top-notch school but what sets us apart is the collaborative environment here. Two of our core values are teamwork and community, which are embodied in our “Business Cares” Initiative and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be part of these philanthropic endeavours.

To read the entire Financial Times interview, click here.

Professional women commonly face a unique set of challenges as they rise to senior ranks compared to their male peers. Gender discrimination, stereotyping, dual career-family pressures, and the lack of equal opportunities in certain industries all play a role in challenging professional women in their transition from managing to leading.  Dr. Desai addresses these topics and much more in our three day women's leadership program.

Learn More about  Women In Business  

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Recruiting, Developing, and Retaining Women in Leadership

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 6, 2015 1:45:09 PM

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). Yet gaps persist between men and women in the workforce in terms of pay, career path, and leadership development.

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Using Gaming in Learning and Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 4, 2015 10:00:00 AM

UNC Executive Development discussed new aspects of L&D delivery in the December post titled UNC Executive Development- How New Technology is Changing L&D Delivery. Among the new technologies being incorporated into organizations’ learning and development efforts was the use of gaming and simulators. While we touched on these topics, the white paper Got Game?  The Use of Gaming in Learning and Development gives a more detailed view of the new uses of gaming in learning and development.  Here is a glimpse of the insight offered in this white paper:

Video Games Can be Used in L&DWho is Playing Video Games?

A recent study by the NPD Group, a market-tracking firm, found that 211.5 million – two thirds of Americans – play video games. Games and gaming technologies are continuing to grow in popularity and sophistication, so much so that children and adolescents are no longer the primary users. The average game player today is 30 years old, and a large majority of gamers are above the age of 18. As video games grow in popularity and sophistication, an increasing number of organizations and government agencies have embraced them to support l&d efforts. Games are being used by large U.S. employers to recruit, improve communication among managers and their staff, and to train employees and new hires at all levels in their organizations. 

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It's a VUCA World and Leadership Development Can Save It

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 30, 2015 12:15:18 PM

The volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity inherent in today’s business world is the “new normal”, and it is profoundly changing not only how organizations do business, but how business leaders lead. The skills and abilities leaders once needed to help their organizations thrive are no longer sufficient. Today, more strategic, complex critical-thinking skills are required of business leaders. In order to develop a strategic plan for developing leaders in a VUCA enviroment, you must first understand what the term means.  vuca

The “V” in the VUCA acronym stands for volatility. It means the nature, speed, volume, and magnitude of change that is not in a predictable pattern (Sullivan, 2012 January 16). Volatility is turbulence, a phenomenon that is occurring more frequently than in the past. The BCG study found that half of the most turbulent financial quarters during the past 30 years have occurred since 2002. The study also concluded that financial turbulence has increased in intensity and persists longer than in the past. (Sullivan, 2012 October 22). Other drivers of turbulence in business today include digitization, connectivity, trade liberalization, global competition, and business model innovation (Reeves & Love, 2012).

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Emotional Intelligence: How to Improve It for your Organization

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 28, 2015 11:52:49 AM

In a previous post defining and explaining emotional intelligence, “Emotional Intelligence: What it is and what it can do for your company,” we went into detail about what it means to have a high level of emotional intelligence. Additionally, we discussed some of the benefits that can be generated from developing emotional intelligence at all levels within an organization. Now, we go a bit further to explain some of the steps that can be taken to enhance emotional intelligence among employees and leaders in the workplace. 

Improving Emotional IntelligenceDeveloping Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can be developed through proper training and coaching. There is real value gained by those organizations that make developing emotional intelligence a priority. Emotional intelligence is said to increase with age, and higher levels are also shown in women, but proper coaching with feedback is an effective way to improve emotional intelligence in all individuals. Note that there is no fast and easy way to improve an individual’s set of abilities - holding one seminar on the topic will not be sufficient in this area. Below are some suggested tips HR and talent management professionals can follow to effectively enhance emotional intelligence within their organization.

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