Executive Development Blog

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

Got Game? The Use of Gaming in Learning and Development

Posted by Chad Vamos on Jun 19, 2014 10:44:16 AM

 Check out this summary of this white paper on gaming in learning and development by Kip Kelly.

Video games—and the people who play them—have changed dramatically since 1948, the year the first video game was patented. Generations of gamers have grown up and entered the workplace, and video games have made the same transition, extending their influence into companies around the globe. Many organizations are increasingly using gaming technology in their learning and development (L&D) programs to help build the next generation of business leaders.

As video games grow in popularity and sophistication, more organizations and government agencies are embracing them to support L&D efforts. A recent ESA study found that 70 percent of major U.S. employers use interactive software and games for L&D purposes, and nearly eight out of 10 U.S. employers plan on doing so in 2013.


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Topics: talent development

Talent Management: How to Accelerate Leadership Development

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on May 15, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Check out this executive summary of our newest talent management white paper which summarizes findings from the UNC Leadership Survey 2014: How to Accelerate Leadership Development.

Accelerating Leadership Development Research

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an eye-opening statistic: by the year 2020, a quarter of the workforce will be over the age of 55. As large numbers of Baby Boomers retire, organizations are facing the difficult challenge of replacing senior talent with qualified incumbent employees. The remaining younger employees lack the years of experience and knowledge of their predecessors. According to recent research, 47 percent of survey respondents highlight gaps knowledge between current and future leaders as an important issue in their organizations. This shortage in qualified leaders in the midst of impending retirement places pressure on organizations to develop employees into qualified leaders and to do this at a faster rate. In addition, as the pace of change in our knowledge economy continues to increase and the global leadership learning curve becomes longer, there is a need to accelerate the development of leaders. How are organizations developing the knowledge, skills, and experiences of its future leaders to overcome this deficit?

In this signature research, conducted in partnership between the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Human Capital Institute, we investigate ways organizations are accelerating the development of their leaders. From a sample of HR professionals, we can understand the current climate of talent development, including budgets, leadership competencies and anticipated changes for the future. 

The following results were revealed:


  • Organizations are concerned about their leadership bench strength, as 85 percent agree that there is an urgent need to accelerate the development of their leaders.
  • Over a quarter of organizations report that 20 percent or more of their employers will reach the retirement age within the next five years.
  • Senior leaders are not satisfied with current bench strength and are concerned that their high-potentials are unable to meet future business needs. Only forty percent report that their high-potentials can meet future business needs.
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Topics: executive development, executive education, talent management, talent development, high-potential talent, leadership development

UNC Executive Development Ranked Among Top 10 in the World

Posted by Kip Kelly on May 12, 2014 12:09:00 PM

Financial Times Executive Education RankingCustom executive education programs at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School are among the best in the world, according to a new ranking by the Financial Times.

The Financial Times ranked UNC Kenan-Flagler No. 9 in the world and No. 4 in the United States for its customized leadership development and business education programs that help organizations address business challenges.

UNC Kenan-Flagler also ranked highly in many individual categories, notably as No. 3 in the world for value, No. 4 for both faculty and program design, No. 5 for new skills and learning and No. 6 for aims achieved.

“The new Financial Times ranking of our work in leadership development and executive education is a confirmation of our commitment to the companies with which we collaborate,” said Susan Cates, president of UNC Executive Development. “We recently celebrated 60 years of executive education at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and these rankings reflect our legacy of excellence. The Financial Times methodology focuses heavily on the feedback from the clients we serve and we are honored that they have ranked UNC Kenan-Flagler among the best in the world for the value we bring to their organizations. We are privileged to work with so many great organizations to help them to develop their future business leaders.”

UNC Kenan-Flagler partners with a wide variety of organizations from all over the world, said David Leonard, executive director at UNC Executive Development. “We collaborate with their business leaders to help solve business challenges and develop the knowledge, skills and experience they need to succeed and knowing that they value our work together is extremely gratifying.”

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Topics: executive development, leadership, executive education, leadership development

Talent Management: Managing the Multigenerational Workplace

Posted by Nancy Tannenbaum on May 8, 2014 4:00:00 PM

Check out the summary of our newest white paper by Kip Kelly and Dan Bursch:

Today’s workforce is decidedly multigenerational. It is comprised of five generations - Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (or Millennials), and a smattering of Generation Z - whose life experiences have left indelible marks on their values and work preferences. This rapid and unprecedented demographic shift has many talent management and business leaders wondering how organizations will adapt to the “5G” workplace.

UNC leadership multigenerational graphic

The focus of many organizations’ recruitment and retention initiatives have included race and ethnicity, gender, veteran recruitment and development, people with disabilities, and more. There is an increasing demand in the workforce today to add multigenerational diversity to the mix. Business executives and talent development managers must include the effects multiple generations have in the workplace to their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Multigenerational workplaces create unique challenges and opportunities for employers who want to leverage each generation’s talents and strengths to benefit their organizations’ bottom lines.  

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Topics: employee engagement, executive development, talent management, millennials, multigenerational workforces

Leadership Exercises to Build a Resilient Organizational Culture

Posted by Kip Kelly on Apr 16, 2014 10:10:00 AM

Below is an executive summary from a white paper written by Marion White, an Account Director here at UNC. To download the entire paper, click here.

A recent 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. 

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Topics: VUCA, UNC, talent management, burnout, leadership development, organizational culture

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