Executive Development Blog

How Leaders Can Influence Others to Drive Change

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 9, 2017 2:16:40 PM

Imagine you are heading up a taskforce that consists of five of your peers from sales, marketing, research and development, operations, and human resources. The chief operating officer has asked the taskforce to come up with a solution to an organization-wide problem that has plagued the company for the past 48 months. The issue needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

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As a leader in the organization, you have consulted with dozens of people inside and outside of your organization. You’ve done more research on this than anyone else on the taskforce and have the knowledge, skills, and proven track record to effect change. How will you effectively communicate your proposed solution to the other taskforce members? What can you do to get them to see the value of your ideas?

Obtaining buy-in from managers at all levels is critical when proposing a change initiative because, while it may rapidly improve an organizational problem, there is also the risk of hitting the bottom line and lowering employee morale if the initiative fails.

To increase the likelihood of getting your recommendations taken seriously and implemented, you, as a leader, must have effective influence skills.

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Topics: leadership, change management, leadership development, change

Leading the Way at UNC: Chancellor Carol Folt

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Apr 13, 2017 1:03:35 PM

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt’s vision for students is that they “Don’t simply learn what we know but they learn how to create what will be.”  Those are very powerful and insightful words coming from the first woman to hold the role of Chancellor at the university in its 228 year history. 

well-3.jpgSusie Gharib of Fortune writes,

An internationally recognized scientist and award-winning teacher, Folt was tapped to be chancellor in 2013 and since then she’s been talking about innovation and the importance of making changes to stay relevant. At first glance, Folt is strikingly petite. But on closer examination, she exudes a powerful, high energy leadership style. And it’s easy to see why she has been an inspiration for the 28,000 students attending UNC. She encourages them to dream big and she is candid in sharing how her own experiences of coming from a family of Albanian immigrants influenced her path. “In that kind of world, every day is a fresh day,” Folt explains. “You don’t have anything that’s directing you. You’re free of past constraints.” Her message to UNC students: “Don’t be constrained by what you were. Think about what you want to be.”

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Topics: leadership, change management, innovation

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

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

Making Change Work

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Dec 9, 2013 2:05:00 PM

Making Change Work

Tony Laffoley, Program Director at UNC Executive Development authored a paper on "Making Change Work". Enjoy the summary and click below to download the full paper.

An outcome of today’s increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment is constant and rapid change. Organizations unable to keep up with that change will quickly become obsolete. Far too many organizations, unfortunately, get failing grades when it comes to managing change initiatives. In his book Leading Change (Harvard Business School Press), change management expert John Kotter estimated that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail. HR and talent managers must not only be able to manage change, they must prepare leaders and employees to manage it as well.

change talent management

Why Change Initiatives Fail

A 2012 study by Capgemini found that in these volatile times, change management should be a core competency in most organizations, yet its survey of Norwegian business leaders found that 45 percent of all companies currently do not excel at change management. So what does managing change effectively entail? The study found three areas in which organizations should strive to improve when implementing change initiatives:

David Leonard and Claude Coltea from Gallup assert that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail because change agents overlook the role front-line managers play in the success of the initiative.  They also claim that HR professionals fail to develop in front-line managers the exact actions they need to take to make the changes happen. The main take away from Leonard and Coltea is the need to invest the time and the resources to achieve front-line manager support to a level where they drive the change as if they themselves made the decision. 

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Topics: change management