Executive Development Blog

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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Preparing Your Next Generation of Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 23, 2015 11:15:27 AM

As aging baby boomers reach retirement age over the next two decades, many organizations face a potential mass exodus of their senior leaders. While the economic downturn may have delayed retirement for many baby boomers, these valued employees will retire eventually, taking with them a lifetime of knowledge and skills that are difficult, if not impossible, to replace.


The statistics of an aging workforce tell the story. As of January 1, 2011, a baby boomer turns 65 every eight seconds -- over 7,000 per day. While many may delay retirement for financial and personal reasons, employers are worried—and rightfully so—that they will face a shortage of experienced workers over the next five years. A recent Ernst and Young survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that 62 percent of employers believe future retirements will result in a labor shortage (Johnson, 2010). With every passing year there will be fewer workers with the knowledge and experience to lead effectively. For some industries like health care, energy and construction, this talent gap is already acutely felt (Davis, 2008). Few industries, however, will be unaffected. Research indicates that employers are unprepared for the inevitable departure of these workers:

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UNC Faculty Receive Grant from Imagination Institute

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 21, 2015 11:52:47 AM

"The Imagination Institute, based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, has announced nearly $3 million worth of grants to researchers at 16 institutions. The grants are aimed at the development of better ways of assessing and promoting imagination and creativity."

Mike Christian, who teaches in a selection of UNC's Executive Development programs, was chosen with his Carolina peers to receive one of these grants.  The following is taken from the press release:

Kurt Gray, Michael Christian and John Patrick from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will receive $198,769 to explore creativity and the quantification of free thought. They will quantify the imaginative creativity inherent in free thought using sophisticated semantic analysis measures. Can these metrics predict real-world creativity, allow simple creativity-improving interventions and be easily integrated into social media platforms to collect “big data”?



To view the entire press release from the University of Pennsylvania, click here.

To view an article on the topic in "Scientific American", click here.

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Are you identifying your high-potential talent?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 16, 2015 10:47:00 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 talent 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 (Snipes, 2005). Organizations continue to struggle, however, with how to effectively identify, attract, and retain high-potential talent in their organizations; a 2011 AMA Enterprise survey found that just a little more than half of survey respondents said their organizations were somewhat effective in their ability to retain high-potential employees (Nikravan, 2011).

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4 Steps for Leaders in Fostering Diversity

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 14, 2015 11:34:45 AM

There is no single “one-size-fits-all” approach to diversity. Corporate leaders should be aware of each group’s similarities, differences, wants, and needs. If diversity has not been a high priority for the organization, there are a few steps, however, that CEOs can ask for and HR and talent management professionals can take to begin to improve diversity in their workplaces and in their investor and customer bases.


1. Conduct a diversity needs assessment to ensure the workforce, board, and leadership reflects the communities and customers it serves. If it doesn’t, target recruiting efforts to include local organizations with connections to minority groups the organization is seeking, such as the Urban League and LaRaza.

2. Obtain CEO support. Each of the top three organizations topping DiversityInc’s 2014 list note the importance of senior-level support. The information found in this white paper can be used to make the business case for diversity in organizations.

3. Develop a diverse leadership pipeline now. HR professionals should review their organization’s talent development and succession plans to include diversity. If there is a lack of diversity in these plans, consider adding mentorships, sponsorships, and other targeted programs that simultaneously accelerate diversity and bench strength. Organizations may want to consider tying significant bonus compensation to progress at the management and senior levels.

4. To bring out the best and to capitalize on the benefits a diverse workforce brings to an organization, develop a corporate culture that allows everyone to be who they are while working together to achieve organizational strategies and plans. Foster an organizational attitude of open thinking and encourage employees to express their ideas and opinions in their own cultural context (Greenberg, n.d.).

Check out the white paper written by Horace McCormick titled Accelerating Diversity for a Better Bottom Line.

Click to Download Full White Paper  

Greenberg, J. (n.d.). Diversity in the workplace: Benefits, challenges and solutions. The Multicultural Advantage. Retrieved from http://www.multiculturaladvantage.com/recruit/diversity/diversity-in-the-workplace-benefits-challenges-solutions.asp.

Want to be a better leader for your organization or invest in others?  Check out our calendar of open enrollment leadership development programs at UNC.

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UNC's Talent Development Journal, ideas@work Volume 9 Now Available!

Posted by Susan Cates on Jul 9, 2015 10:27:30 AM

Greetings from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. I’m very happy to share with you the latest edition of ideas@work, a journal designed specifically for business leaders involved and interested in leadership development. 


This edition features the results from our latest research project. We surveyed talent development professionals from around the world to determine what organizations are doing to develop globally-competent leaders. Our research identifies the most critical characteristics of global leaders, the biggest challenges organizations face in developing global leaders, and the most effective methods used to build global competence.

We’ve also included our most recent white papers covering a range of topics that I hope you’ll find interesting. Horace McCormick, a program director here at UNC, explores the strategic importance of diversity, drawing from his 20+ years of corporate experience in talent management. Our director of public programs, Kip Kelly, has co-authored a provocative piece on the use of advanced analytics in talent development. Kimberly Schaufenbuel, another program director and former head of global talent development for a multinational corporation, looks at the science of motivation, offering tips to help you apply the latest neuroscience research in your organization. Finally, our friend and resident talent management expert, Marc Effron, explains how a talent philosophy establishes the rules of the road for managing talent and ensures a more disciplined approach to making talent decisions.

I hope you enjoy this edition of ideas@work and that you find practical ideas that you can apply in your organization. I encourage you to visit the resource library on our website where you will find all of our white papers, research, and more.

Click to Download Volume 9

Thank you for your interest and your continued support!

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UNC Webcast on Leading with Global Competence

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 7, 2015 11:07:00 AM

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and Human Capital Institute (HCI) have teamed together to research and understand the importance of global competence for local to transnational companies and how organizations are developing this ability in their leaders and in the entire workforce.

Join us for a webcast as we reveal results from the study and take questions from the audience. Registrants will receive a copy of the research report.

Wednesday, Jul 15 2015 4:00pm EDT

  Register for Webcast


  • Learn why developing globally-competent leaders is an imperative for all sizes of organizations. Local, regional, and national- based companies are expanding their scope of operations and understand the role global competence is for the future success of their organizations.

  • Understand the most important competencies for global leaders and the most effective methods for developing them.

  • Listen and take notes as our expert explains how to plan, design, and measure a global competence development program.


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Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 2, 2015 11:03:08 AM

Check out this UNC Executive Development white paper written by Marion White.

The popular press has had a field day lately, alerting us to the looming generation gap in the workplace. The stories invariably begin something like this: “For the first time in history, four generations will be in the workplace at the same time.” Most reporters then describe the gap and its potential adverse impact on the workplace. In many cases, it isn’t described merely as a gap. It’s a crisis, a war, a chasm so deep that it threatens our organizations’ very futures.


“Emerging studies, however, suggest that while there are some tensions among generations, the generation gap may have been overly exaggerated in the popular press. In fact, the different generations may actually have more in common than previously thought, “ notes Marion White, account director for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School Executive Development program. “We need to leverage these commonalities and focus on shared values among the generations to improve organizational culture and communication,” says White.

There are currently four generations in the workplace:

  • Traditionalists, born before 1945, experienced the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. According to generation gap experts, their heroes include John Wayne and Joe DiMaggio.
  • Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1964, experienced suburban sprawl, the explosion of television, the Vietnam Era and Watergate. Their heroes include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Spock.
  • Generation X, born between 1964 and 1980, shared Sesame Street, MTV, PCs, soaring divorce rates and were the first latch-key kids. Their heroes include Michael Jordan and Bill Gates.
  • Generation Y or Millennials, born after 1980, experienced the development of the digital camera, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), YouTube, 9/11, Katrina and increased diversity. Their hero is President Barack Obama.

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Five Steps to Bring Mindfulness Into Your Meetings

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 30, 2015 12:20:21 PM

Meetings are a good place to encourage mindfulness because it encourages participants to stay in the present and to not react too quickly to information. It also encourages new perspectives to be explored before making decisions. Here are five steps HR and talent management professionals can take to foster more mindful meetings in their organizations.


1. Encourage meeting participants to conduct a self-check before the meeting. Instruct all participants to ask themselves “What mental state am I in?” By becoming more aware of their mental state, they can choose the state they want to be in during the meeting.

2. Encourage meeting leaders to conduct a group check-in. Meeting leaders can take five minutes at the start of every meeting and ask each participant to answer the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how present are you right now?” This will help participants reflect on where their attention is and prompt them to be in the present moment.

3. Encourage meeting leaders to always state their intentions. This goes beyond stating the usual discussion topics. For example, one intention of a meeting may be to give team members a chance to connect with each other.

4. Encourage meeting leaders to distinguish the meeting parts. Meetings have multiple parts, and it is helpful for participants to know which part they are in.

5. Teach meeting leaders to always wrap the meeting up. Encourage them to take five minutes at the end of each meeting to intentionally create clear agreements about what is going to happen in the future.

                                                                                                                            (Source: Kashen, n.d.)

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