Executive Development Blog

Is Your CEO a Woman? If So, You Might Have a More Inclusive Culture

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 29, 2016 11:41:59 AM

Companies with female CEOs are more effective at creating inclusive cultures.

Our recent research this year on diversity and inclusion revealed that companies with female CEOs are doing a better job creating a culture of inclusion.  The study also finds greater confidence in organizations’ ability to achieve diversity and inclusion goals if the CEO is a woman. 

diversity_culture.jpgThe majority of companies surveyed (95 percent) report that an inclusive culture is critical to their organizations’ future success, and most (86 percent) say diversity is important for improving their bottom-line profits. 

The importance of diversity and inclusion is encouraging some companies to change their approach, said Kip Kelly, UNC Executive Development director of public programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “Companies are changing the way they talk about diversity and inclusion, and it seems companies with female CEOs are leading the conversation,” said Kelly. 

Over half (53 percent) of the organizations surveyed have changed their diversity and inclusion competencies or developed them for the first time in the past three years. An additional 12 percent say they plan to change them soon. In contrast, diversity and inclusion competencies have been in place longer and are less likely to have changed recently in companies with a female CEO.

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Find Your Leadership Strengths and Weaknesses

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 27, 2016 11:55:45 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 talentleader.png 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.  The only way to grow and retain top talent, is to invest in their development.  UNC Executive Development will offer a 3-day leadership course for current and emerging leaders.  The Leadership Effectiveness Workshop will allow participants to sharpen the leadership skills needed for both personal and professional growth, learn more about their own leadership style, and how to effectively maximize their strengths as leaders. 

To learn more about this program for yourself or others in your organization, download a brochure by clicking below.

Learn More about  Leadership Workshop

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Neuroscience and Leadership

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 22, 2016 12:11:02 PM

In the not so distant past, the conventional definition of an effective leader was one who got results, boosted the bottom line, and generally forced productivity out of his or her employees. As HR and talent management professionals know all too well, some of the management practices used to get these results were at the cost of employee motivation, retention, trust, and ultimately the bottom line. With a window into neuroscience, today we have more insight into how to improve leadership behaviors.

neuroscience-1.jpgFor example, a study (cited in Boyatzis, n.d.) found a link between effective leaders and resonant relationships with others. The study, using fMRI technology, found that when middle managers were asked to recall specific experiences with “resonant” leaders, 14 regions of the brain were activated. When asked to recall specific experiences with “dissonant” leaders, only six regions of the brain were activated and 11 regions were deactivated. The regions of the brain activated for resonant leaders were associated with exciting attention, activating the social system, and other regions associated with “approach” relationships. Dissonant leaders deactivated the social system and activated regions of the brain associated with narrowing attention, lowering compassion, and triggering negative emotions (Boyatzis, n.d.).

There is also a physical connection in the brain associated with trust, an emotion that is increasingly cited as a critical leadership trait to exhibit. A 2008 study identified a chemical in the brain called oxytocin that when released, makes a person more receptive to feel trust toward a stranger (Meacham, 2013). The brain actually determines trustworthiness within milliseconds of meeting a person. That initial determination is continually updated when more information is received or processed, as the brain takes in a person’s appearance, gestures, voice tone, and the content of what is said. What this means for leaders is that it is possible to build trust among employees even if it has been lacking in the past.

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The Urgent Need for Leaders

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 20, 2016 12:25:49 PM

The following is a portion of our 2014 research findings on How to Accelerate Leadership Development. Download the entire survey findings below.

Employers face a pressing need to develop their next generation of leaders to ensure they gain the necessary knowledge and experience to be successful within their roles. This sense of urgency can be attributed to the looming mass Baby Boomer retirements of the next few years, as over a quarter of organizations in this study report that 20 percent or more of their senior leaders will be eligible to retire within the next five years (Figure 1).


The necessity to develop leaders quickly is illuminated by the findings in this study, as 85 percent of organizations agree that there is an urgent need to accelerate the development of leaders. A mere one-fifth of senior leaders (21 percent) surveyed are satisfied with their current bench strength. Likewise, less than half of organizations (40 percent) believe that their current high-potentials have what it takes to meet future business needs. This finding is supported by the 2013 UNC leadership survey, in which only 35 percent of participants reported that their high-potential talent pool meets or exceeds anticipated future needs.7 In short, organizations are worried about future leadership and are not satisfied with the current state of their high-potentials. On average, survey respondents report that:

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Does Your Total Rewards Package Motivate Your Workforce?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 15, 2016 3:14:24 PM

There is a perfect storm brewing in workplaces. The economy is recovering, business is picking up, and employers are hiring. At the same time, baby boomers are preparing to leave the workforce which will lead to leadership, skills, and knowledge gaps that could threaten an organization’s future. For the first time since the Great Recession, employers will be working harder than ever to retain and attract the best workers. These retention and recruiting activities have been traditionally housed with HR business partners and in the compensation domain of HR, but it is time to rethink these activities as part of a broader total rewards strategy.

rewards-1.jpgTotal rewards are the comprehensive monetary and non-monetary return employers provide employees in exchange for their time, talents, efforts, and results (Christofferson and King, 2006). These returns include health care services such as medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage, wellness offerings such as assessment and screenings, retirement benefits such as pensions, 401(k)s, and retiree medical and life insurance, work-life programs such as paid and unpaid time off, dependent care, short-term and long-term disability, and flexible work schedules (Kwon and Hein, 2013). They also include base salary, bonus, stock options, variable pay, executive salary, and perks like company cars.

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Creating Cultures of Innovation with Open Organizations

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 13, 2016 11:55:03 AM

Red Hat and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School are having a conversation about the Open Organization on Tuesday, September 27th, 1pm-2pm EST.

           redhat-logo.jpg     unc-2.jpg

Join us for an exclusive conversation on the value of the open organization and how to anticipate and overcome the leadership challenges that may arise from it. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Tony Laffoley and Red Hat’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jackie Yeaney, will discuss how organizations can adopt the open source principles that Red Hat was built upon to positively affect the future of work, management, and leadership. Anyone invested in learning how to help their organization respond to opportunities more quickly, find resources and talent outside the organization, and inspire, motivate, and empower people at all levels to act with accountability should attend this webinar. 

Webinar Date: Tuesday, September 27 2016
Time: 1 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. PDT
Duration: 60 minutes

Register for Webcast


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How Leaders Can Ensure a Successful Succession Plan

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 8, 2016 1:28:25 PM

Succession planning is not just about recognizing the talent gaps that exist in your organization today but identifying future talent needs and creating solutions to address those needs. The challenge most learning and development professionals face is how to craft programs that adequately address the leadership skills needed in tomorrow’s rapidly changing workplace.

succession-1.jpgAlthough future talent needs will vary according to an organization’s industry, some common leadership skills and talents necessary for success have emerged. Employers realized during the recession that most managers could communicate—a skill that has been a focus of executive development for years—but few could handle ambiguity well or were able to deal with rapid change. Organizations are now concerned with developing a new set of competencies and skills in tomorrow’s leaders.

Do you believe that your organization is developing the talent it needs to reach business objectives and meet future challenges? If not, you are not alone. You can download our white paper below titled Putting Success Back in Succession Planning which will show you how successful succession plans are more than filling out forms. They are real, living programs that combine learning and development opportunities and experiential learning to prepare leaders at all levels for tomorrow’s business challenges. If you, as a learning and development professional, don’t have succession planning on your radar, you should.

Click to Download Full White Paper

Interested in preparing your current talent into tomorrow's leaders? Take a look at our leadership development program calendar here.

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Making the Case for Leadership Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Sep 1, 2016 2:41:23 PM

Human resource and talent management professionals can turn today’s economic challenges into opportunity and become true strategic partners by creating strong business cases for their learning and development initiatives. To do so, HR can no longer measure the return on investment (ROI) of learning and development after the programs have been implemented. Instead, they should calculate and anticipate the returns these initiatives will have on their organization’s bottom line.

ld.jpgOrganizations can retool their learning and development programs to reflect how they should be doing business and provide steps to show the top and bottom-line value and the ROI of learning and development initiatives. With the proper focus and understanding of how learning and development programs contribute to corporate profits, spending on training and development will be viewed as an investment with the potential for strong returns rather than as a disposable business cost.

Take a look at our white paper titled Making the Case for Learning and Development: 5 Steps for Success which draws lessons from our work with a range of organizations. It outlines steps you and other learning and development leaders can take to show your CEO and CFO the top and bottom-line value and the ROI of learning and development initiatives.

These steps can change your own and your senior management’s perception of learning and development programs and of the value these programs provide to the organization:

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Topics: leadership development

Improve Leadership Effectiveness in Today's VUCA Environment

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 30, 2016 1:39:02 PM

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. 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.

Recognizing the need for this teaching, UNC Executive Development designed a 3-day leadership program on the topic.  The Resilient Leadership program is designed for high-potential and mid-level managers, directors, and senior executives who want to:

  • Improve leadership effectiveness in the face of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity
  • Develop new strategies to better manage stress, set priorities, and avoid burnout
  • Motivate, inspire, and engage others

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Unlocking the Potential of Big Data

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Aug 25, 2016 12:19:38 PM

An increasing number of our senior level partners wrestle with applying data analytics. They see data analytics as a tool to effectively accelerate their key strategic priorities. They hear about industry leading companies using big data to help drive revenue growth or reduce costs, yet are unclear on what big data is, best practices in data analytics, how it can be used as an innovation tool, and missteps to avoid.

big-data.jpgWe’ve seen where big data business analytics leads to significant innovations fueled by data sets. Such innovations lead to increased personalization and greater customer loyalty, driving revenue growth. Big data business analytics is also increasingly critical to help businesses optimize operations and increase profitability. There are specific and new elements that must be considered and applied across business units. At the same time, big data business analytics is the latest in a long line of expensive initiatives that are frequently sub-optimized in their effect, such as CRMs and Enterprise Risk Management tools. The technical side in rolling out these initiatives is critical, as is changing specific behaviors in the way organizations operate.

UNC Executive Development’s newest white paper helps unlock the promise of big data analytics. It outlines key elements of big data analytics, important questions for leaders to consider when expanding big data as a tool to drive business results, lessons we’ve learned here at UNC Executive Development in our experience working with major clients across multiple industry segments, and a suggested 90 day action plan for you to tweak for your own use. Download a copy below to read on.

Click to Download Full White Paper

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Topics: leadership development