Executive Development Blog

How Resilient is Your Organization's Culture?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 5, 2016 11:17:35 AM

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.”

resilience-2.jpgTo create a culture that fosters resilience, HR and talent management professionals must do more than offer stress management and yoga classes, although these can and do have a beneficial role. It requires the development of an organizational culture that encourages trust, accountability, and flexibility. Resilient organizational cultures give all employees—from the CEO down—permission to take care of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with the understanding that when these needs are tended to, resilience occurs, and the entire organization benefits through increased productivity, job performance, retention, engagement, and physical well-being.

A 2012 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. The study also found that 38 percent of employees felt stress and anxiety about the future, and that less than half of the employees surveyed agreed that senior leaders had a sincere interest in their well-being. 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. An uncertain economic outlook, the rapid pace of change, and the need to continually adapt has made resilience—the ability to bounce back in the face of a setback—the new priority in leadership development. The good news is that resilience can be taught.

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Millennials are Shaping the Future of our Workforce

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 3, 2016 11:42:21 AM


UNC’s Kip Kelly recently authored a paper for INSIDE Supply Management titled, Maximizing Millennials in the Multigenerational Workforce.

"Young professionals bring a number of strengths to organizations, and as they become the working-population majority, companies need to adapt to recruit, retain and motivate these employees."

The demographic landscape of the modern workplace is shifting rap­idly, with major implications for supply management. Organizations face a potential mass exodus of their senior leaders, as more than 7,000 members of the baby boomer generation become eligible for retirement every day. Meanwhile, millen­nials have started climbing the corporate ladder, quickly becoming the majority of the workforce — by 2020, nearly half of all U.S. workers will be millennials, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2011 report, Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace. By 2025, they are expected to represent 75 percent of the global work­force. The sheer number of millennials com­bined with the increasing retirement of baby boomers means employers will be facing leadership gaps and looking to millennials to fill them. So who are these future supply chain leaders?

Who are Millennials? millenials_2.jpg

Millennials — also known as Generation Y — include the nearly 2.5 billion young adults born between 1980 and 2000. In the United States alone, there are about 80 million millennials. Many of these young profes­sionals have already entered the workforce, and that number will increase as more graduate college and begin their careers. Millennials have already surpassed Generation X and baby boomers to become the largest gener­ation in the U.S. workforce, representing over 35 percent of all workers. 

By all accounts, millennials are unlike previous generations. They are the most ethnically diverse generation, and they are also the most highly educated. They have developed a reputation for being continuous learners, team players and collaborators who are tech-savvy, optimistic, achieve­ment-oriented and socially conscious. They have also been plagued by negative stereotypes suggesting that they are lazy, narcissistic and entitled, with a constant need for affirmation and praise. 

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UNC Leadership Survey 2016: Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 28, 2016 10:13:23 AM

Diversity and Inclusion Critical to Firm Success, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Survey Shows

Business leaders view inclusiveness and diversity as critical to attracting and retaining top talent, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. The survey was conducted February 24-March 24, 2016; 779 responses were received.


Business leaders view inclusiveness and diversity as critical to attracting and retaining top talent and are very committed to creating inclusive cultures in their firms, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

UNC Kenan-Flagler partnered with Chief Learning Officer, Talent Management and Workforce magazines to conduct the 2016 Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development Survey.CLO.png

Among the findings are: 

  • 75 percent identify creating an inclusive culture as an essential priority
  • 86 percent say diversity is important for improving their bottom-line profits
  • 95 percent believe that an inclusive culture is critical to their organizations’ future success

“The conversation is changing about diversity and inclusion,” said Kip Kelly, UNC Executive Development director of public programs. “Companies are recognizing that diversity is not optional – it is critical to the success and sustainability of every organization. Successful companies are working harder to foster a culture of inclusion, and they’re holding their leaders accountable.”

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Five Tips to Inspire First-Time Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 26, 2016 11:04:18 AM

There are nearly 30,000 books for sale on Amazon dedicated to the topic of leadership, so there is obviously no shortage of writers publishing their thoughts and offering advice. There is also no shortage of leadership positions currently available or about to be available; 500 of the largest U.S. companies are expected to lose half of their senior managers over the next five years, and 70 percent of companies report moderate to severe leadership shortages. As an estimated 85 million baby boomers retire or take on less demanding roles, the global leadership shortage will only escalate.

leadership_tips.jpgI bring a practitioner’s approach to this area with more than 35 years of experience leading large and small organizations. It has been my experience that although there may be differences in organizational cultures and environments that drive different behaviors, the principles of exceptional leadership are constant regardless of whether one works in a hierarchical environment like the military or a matrixed company such as IBM.

I offer the following leadership tips based on my own experience that organizational leaders can use to inspire and direct leadership development in their organizations.  Make sure to download the full white paper for deeper insights on each tip. 

Tip 1: To be a good leader, first be a good follower.
Emerging leaders who work their way up learn about what motivates them and their co-workers and 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.

Tip 2: Listen and learn.
To quote Calvin Coolidge, “no man ever listened himself out of a job,” but it is a skill about 25 percent of corporate leaders aren’t making the most of, according to author and advisor Ram Charan. To hone listening skills, new and emerging leaders should be coached on how to actively listen.

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Developing Agile Business Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 21, 2016 11:57:51 AM

Look around you; everything is changing. The global economy, medicine, technology, the environment, geo-politics…you name it and chances are, it is undergoing dramatic change. Of course, this has always been the case – but the rate of change is increasing. These changes can have dramatic and unexpected consequences for your organization. Just keeping up with the rate of change can be a significant challenge, much less anticipating and staying ahead of the curve. Companies that want to thrive in this constantly evolving business environment need the ability to change quickly – and they need agile business leaders who can learn, develop and adapt quickly.


How can you develop agile business leaders in your organization? While knowledge and experience remain critical, it is becoming increasingly important to develop leaders with the ability to deal with ambiguity and change, to lead and foster innovation and creativity, and to make and implement decisions quickly. Organizations require leaders who can adapt, think on their feet and lead with confidence through the shifting business landscape —all skills and behaviors that can be a challenge for talent managers to develop. Developing these unique capabilities requires a different approach, encouraging some talent management professionals to embrace unconventional methods. Download our white paper below titled Leadership Agility: Using Improv to Build Critical Skills where we will explore the non-traditional method of using improv to develop more agile business leaders.

Click to Download Full White Paper

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UNC's Tarun Kushwaha: Making Sense of Data

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 19, 2016 10:41:49 AM

Because marketing professor Tarun Kushwaha wants to disprove a stereotype about Indians being chronically late, he makes a big point of starting his classes precisely on time. He expects his students to be in their seats – and they know it.

Tarun_-_article_image_1.jpgSo Kushwaha was fuming when only a handful of his MBA students were seated on the last day of his class in 2014. As
he lamented the missing students’ lack of respect and was just about to give up on them, in they all walked in – sporting mustaches like the distinctive one Kushwaha wears. Everyone guffawed, including Kushwaha. He’d been punked.

“It is common to have a mustache in my native India,” he says. “Although I’ve been in the United States a long time now, my mustache is one thing I haven’t given up. It was very funny to see my students walk in late wearing mustaches while I was going on a rant.”

An ability to laugh at himself and his deep commitment to his students earn accolades – including the 2013 Weatherspoon Award for Excellence in MBA Teaching. “Professor Kushwaha is an excellent professor and clearly loves the subject matter,” wrote a student who nominated him. “His positive attitude and love for the subject material comes through in his teaching, and it makes a difficult subject a bit easier to learn.”

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Personal, Employment, and Leadership Brands. What’s the Difference?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 14, 2016 11:17:56 AM

A personal brand is a process undertaken to differentiate oneself in the marketplace with a goal to attain career goals and objectives (Quast, 2013). Although much of one’s personal brand today is communicated through social media websites, it is more than social media. A personal brand encompasses all the ways people use to communicate their values, unique qualities, and career aspirations and includes cover letters, resumes, and how a person presents herself or himself (e.g., verbal and nonverbal communication, clothing, physical appearance, etc.).


An employment brand is the image an organization wants to project to the employment marketplace about what it is like to work there (Rodriguez, 2006). It is about an organization’s culture, the attention recruiters and managers give to candidate and employee needs, and the tone of welcome given to employees, candidates, and customers alike (Cattel, 2012). Like personal branding, employment branding has been around for a while, but the rise in the use of social media—which can easily make or break an employment brand—has made employment branding a renewed priority in many organizations. Social media has made it easier than ever for disgruntled employees to tweet or post their complaints about employers, quickly damaging an employment brand.

A leadership brand conveys an executive’s identity and distinctiveness as a leader (Smallwood, 2010). It not only reflects the values and qualities a leader has to offer an organization, it is also a reflection of the organization’s values. Leadership branding can be used as a personal career building tool for executives to promote themselves to other organizations, but there are positive attributes to leadership branding that can directly benefit the organization.

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How is Your Leadership Presence?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 12, 2016 11:17:26 AM

Leadership presence is, in part, a projection of values and conviction, and it requires honesty, trust, and confidence. How leaders look and sound has a profound impact on the image they project, and this image can either strengthen or weaken their ability to inspire and motivate an audience. What we don’t say, or our nonverbal presentation, can have just as much impact on the business as our verbal communication.


US News & World Report has identified 5 Tips to Improve Nonverbal Communication at Meetings. They are:

  1. Eye Contact.  Making eye contact makes the audience feel that you are speaking directly to them. They become engaged and feel you are genuinely interested in speaking to them.
  2. Tone.  The tone of your voice lets the audience know how you are feeling and sets the overall feeling in the room. Are you happy, excited or angry? Your tone will tell.
  3. Posture.  Are you slumped over, feet pointed towards the door, or just look tired? This will let your audience know if you really want to be there.
  4. Gestures.  These can help you tremendously. They can also hurt your presentation. Gestures can show how passionate you are about your message and if you’re actually prepared and understand the message you are trying to get across.
  5. Appearance.  All eyes are on you. You want to look good. Your appearance says a lot about you and ultimately your message.

Read the full article here.

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Making Sense of Workplace Assessments

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 7, 2016 11:51:34 AM

Assessments in the workplaceIt is nearly impossible these days to find an employee who hasn’t taken a personality or competence assessment at some point in his or her career. It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of employees undergo workplace assessments a year. Assessments are used at nearly every phase of the employment relationship, from hiring, to training and development, and to succession planning.

Assessments Are Big Business
According to Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based research firm, organizations use assessments to screen potential employees, to hire, and to identify high-potential employees, noting that well-designed and executed assessment programs can elevate HR’s position as a strategic partner in their organizations . Employers also use assessments to motivate employees, to improve team work, to enhance leadership development, and to aid in succession planning.

Simply put, good assessments can help place the right people in the right roles, lowering turnover and increasing employee loyalty. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems and professor of business psychology at University College London, notes that valid assessments help employers measure three elements critical to success on the job: competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. Work ethic, he writes, includes ambition, reliability, and trustworthiness. Emotional intelligence is linked to job performance, entrepreneurial potential, and leadership talent. Assessments also help prevent employers from “hiring from the gut” by providing real data about prospective employees.

Caveats to Consider
Assessments can be a powerful tool in an organization’s talent management arsenal, but there are two important caveats to consider. First, as Jac Fitz-enz, CEO of Human Capital Source, writes in an article for Human Resource Executive Online, assessment reviewers must focus on the data and not skew it to conform to their own predispositions.

Secondly, consider the words of Carl Jung, a pioneer in the field of psychiatry whose theories are the basis of the widely-used Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI):

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How Effective is Your Mentoring Program?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 5, 2016 3:21:00 PM

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. It has often been said that the most important work of a leader is the development of other leaders.mentor-4

Recent research from UNC Executive Development has found that the idea of establishing mentoring programs ranks very high in the development of high potential talent and global leaders.  Bravetta Hassell from CLO Magazine writes, “Whether companies want to face the music, aging baby boomers in key leadership positions will be retiring in the near future if they haven’t already. Having a strategic plan in place to share their many experiences and capture their deep knowledge is imperative for organizations. Luckily, there is an influx of millennials who need development — crave it even — and they’re primed to capture what leaders have to share.”

CLO Magazine interviewed Kip Kelly, Director of Public Programs at UNC and he had the following to say about formal mentoring in organizations, “We kind of took it for granted that it was already popular and people were already doing it, but we underestimated how much of a gap there is in how effectively they think they are doing it, the need for improvement and the need for some process around mentoring programs,”  He also states, “Many want to know they made an impact on that organization before they leave, and establishing that legacy through a mentoring program can be extremely valuable,”

Read the full CLO Magazine article here.

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