Executive Development Blog

Leadership Agility: Using Improv to Build Critical Skills

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 30, 2014 10:37:44 AM

Check out this summary of Kip Kelly's white paper, Leadership Agility: Using Improv to Build Critical Skills:

Improvisation Can Help Leaders Be Agile, Respond to Change

To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, the only constant in life—and in business—is change. It is constant, inevitable and rapidly increasing. Business leaders know that their organization’s success will depend on agile, adaptable and innovative leaders who can respond quickly, confidently and effectively to change, and who can inspire others to do the same.

Developing these unique capabilities often requires a different approach to leadership development and is prompting some senior executives to embrace less conventional approaches. This is where improvisation—the art of performing without a script—can help.

Improvisation can be funny—think Wayne Brady, Tina Fey or Amy Poehler—but that is not necessarily the goal. Improv is about working off the top of your head, being mindful and reacting to those around you, and being entirely in the moment. It is also about honesty. It teaches people how to react, adapt and communicate openly and honestly with each other, skills that readily translate into the workplace.

Improvisation may be unscripted, but that doesn’t mean that it is without rules. These rules serve as guidelines for participants, and while seemingly simple on the surface, are more challenging in actual practice.

Tina Fey, writer, actor, and alumni of Chicago’s famed Second City and Saturday Night Live,outlined her rules for improv in her book, Bossypants. Her rules can be readily applied toward building better leaders in the workplace.

tina fey improv

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Topics: talent management, talent development, change management, leadership development

The History of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Families

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 28, 2014 11:48:00 AM

Meet the Kenans
The Kenan family came to North Carolina in 1730 with a keen interest in education. When the first public state university was being discussed, James Kenan immediately lent his support and became one of the founding trustees of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1793, he donated the princely sum of $50. Since then, six generations of the Kenan family have attended Carolina. 

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Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace - A Task for Talent Management

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 23, 2014 10:07:05 AM

The following is a summary of a talent management white paper written by Kimberly Schaufenbuel, UNC Executive Development Program Director.

In today’s work world, we face multiple stressors, demands, and pressures, not to mention constant connectivity through smart phones, social media, and tablet computers. Consulting firm AON Hewitt estimates that 35 percent of U.S. employers in 2013 offered employee stress-reduction programs, and that estimate is expected to grow (AON Hewitt, 2013). 

Business leaders are increasingly looking for ways to reduce employee stress, and many employers - like Google, Aetna, Target, and General Mills, to name a few - have found that introducing mindfulness into their workplace not only lowers employee stress, but improves focus, clarity of thinking, decision-making, emotional intelligence, and more.


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Topics: employee engagement, executive development, emotional intelligence, leadership development, learning and development

The Value of Interaction in Executive Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 21, 2014 10:29:36 AM

As discussed in the "Incorporating a Global Economic Perspective into Executive Development" blogpost, UNC places great emphasis on bringing outside knowledge of the economy into the classroom. The blogpost highlighted Professor Christian Lundblad who ensures that executives are given a global perspective in order to create a credible context for the concepts he teaches. In this post, another Kenan-Flagler professor who teaches UNC Executive Development programs, Dave Roberts, is highlighted. 

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HR’s Role in Linking Personal, Employment, and Leadership Branding

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 16, 2014 10:18:00 AM

Check out the summary of this white paper by Meena Dorr:

Although a cover letter and resume are still important in the hiring process, a new hurdle recently has been added to the mix. Thanks to the rise of social media, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly checking out the candidate’s LinkedIn profile or other personal or professional social media site, or searching for job samples on YouTube or SlideShare. This new step in the process led to a renewed emphasis on the importance of personal branding and, conversely, because applicants can now find more information about a potential employer than ever before online, a renewed emphasis on the importance of employment and leadership branding. 

Personal branding helps candidates differentiate themselves in the hiring marketplace. An employment brand is the image an organization wants to project to the employment marketplace about what it is like to work there. A leadership brand conveys an executive’s identity and distinctiveness as a leader.  All three of these brands are linked, and the savvy talent management professional should understand and promote these linkages.


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Topics: talent management, branding

Developing Women in the Workplace- UNC Executive Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 14, 2014 12:55:52 PM

Today, women make up 61 percent of the workforce and retain higher-level degrees at a faster rate than men.   Share prices in companies that target recruiting, developing, and retaining women often outperform competitors. These trends, combined with the fact that women make up 80-85% of the U.S. consumer market, should increase the value of women in the workplace.  Sadly, this is not the case.
UNC Executive Development- Women in Business

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Leadership Development in a VUCA Environment

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 9, 2014 10:45:00 AM

Check out the summary of a white paper, written by Kirk Lawrence:

In The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman notes that the rate of change today is much different than in the past. “Whenever civilization has gone through one of these disruptive, dislocating technical revolutions—like Gutenberg’s introduction of the printing press—the whole world has changed in profound ways,” he writes. “But there is something different about the flattening of the world that is going to be qualitatively different from other such profound changes: the speed and breadth with which it is taking hold….This flattening process is happening at warp speed and directly or indirectly touching a lot more people on the planet at once. The faster and broader this transition to a new era, the more likely is the potential of disruption.”

VUCA white paperThis flattening is creating a new environment that strategic business leaders are increasingly calling a “VUCA” environment. Coined in the late 1990’s, the military-derived acronym stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—terms strategic business leaders use to describe the chaotic, turbulent, and rapidly changing business environment that has become the “new normal.”

By all accounts, the chaotic “new normal” in business is real. The financial crisis of 2008-2009, for example, rendered many business models obsolete, as organizations throughout the world were plunged into turbulent environments similar to those faced by the military. At the same time, rapid changes marched forward as technological developments like social media exploded, the world’s population continued to simultaneously grow and age, and global disasters disrupted lives, economies, and businesses.

This new VUCA environment is taxing even the most able of leaders who may find their skills growing obsolete as quickly as their organizations change in this volatile, unpredictable landscape. Leadership agility and adaptability are now required skills if organizations are to succeed in this VUCA world.

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Topics: talent management, change management, leadership development

Incorporating a Global Economic Perspective into Executive Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 7, 2014 10:37:58 AM

As one can imagine, teaching working professionals is a much different experience than teaching students in the classroom. Executive education is a process that requires acknowledgement of the current economic environment, supplemented with the real-world experience each executive brings into the classroom, which must then be integrated with relevant program content and a knowledge of the changing global environment.

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Talent Management Webcast: How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Oct 2, 2014 9:49:15 AM

Join UNC Executive Development's Horace McCormick as he discusses how to launch a successful and sustainable mentoring program on an October 23rd 1PM (EST) webcast with Human Capital Institute. 

Horace and HCI will:

  • Discuss the benefits of effective mentoring programs and why more employers are embracing mentoring programs in their organizations;
  • Delineate the difference between coaching and mentoring;
  • Review various types of mentoring programs;
  • Offer steps HR and talent management professionals can use to launch successful and sustainable mentoring programs in their organizations, and;
  • Provide examples of mentoring programs being used in organizations today.


The webcast will take place at 1:00 PM (EST) on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

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Topics: leadership, talent development, leadership development, learning and development, mentoring

Meadowmont - Where Leaders Come to Learn from UNC Kenan-Flagler

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on Sep 30, 2014 10:42:00 AM

Meadowmont was once an open tract of land with a small house on it. Now stands the Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center which houses UNC Executive Education for the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill. Alongside the conference center is the DuBose House, a home established by the DuBose family, which is currently used for serving meals, hosting events, and boarding guests.   

The DuBose House at UNC Executive Development's Rizzo Center Mr. David St. Pierre DuBose had long nurtured a dream of creating his own rural estate, and in 1931 he purchased several tracts of land bordering Orange and Durham counties. On this land, at the top of a small mountain, DuBose established his own home and working farm. The highlight of the property was the handsome two-and-one-half story Georgian Revival country house, named Meadowmont for its location atop the small mountain surrounded by meadowland. This home was to become the center of a distinguished social scene in North Carolina for more than 60 years, and the DuBose family became stewards of their families' long-standing traditions of generosity to The University of North Carolina.

Mr. and Mrs. David St. Pierre DuBose moved to North Carolina from Baltimore, where Mr. DuBose had worked as an engineer after graduating from UNC-CH. He used his skills and innovation to create a beautiful home that was technologically advanced, functional for the family, and welcoming to all guests that entered. Realizing that air conditioning would one day be a standard feature of private homes, particularly in the South, DuBose designed an ingenious network of ductwork and vents, all painstakingly disguised behind intricate and attractive Georgian-style open moldings. Meadowmont is believed to be one of the first private homes in the United States equipped for central air conditioning.

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