Executive Development Blog

Chad Vamos

Recent Posts

Leadership Lessons from the Quarterback

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 16, 2014 11:56:32 AM

When summer comes to an end, students head back to school, and the leaves begin to change, it can only mean one thing; football season has arrived.  One thing many people don’t think about when they are sitting down to watch their favorite game is how a football team operates much like your organization at work.  Most notably, how the quarterback is the leader of their team.  So you’ve got your pizza, buffalo wings, and your favorite beverage, but can you also be learning some leadership lessons from your favorite quarterback?  I’ll explore a few, of the many, leadership traits you can learn during this week’s games.


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Topics: leadership, leadership development

Effective Leadership Can Prevent Toxic Culture

Posted by Chad Vamos on Sep 4, 2014 11:10:52 AM

Check out a recent white paper written by UNC's Kirk Lawrence.

How to Cleanse a Toxic Workplace

Just about any manager who has been in the field for a few years has a supply of war stories about employees and supervisors whose presence and/or leadership style can crush a work environment in no time flat. Employees have their fair share of war stories too. For this reason, there has been increased attention in both the government sector and the private sector on senior leaders whose style and behavior are outside the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. These types of leaders create an environment that destroys morale and employee trust, and ultimately degrades productivity.

toxicWhen a workplace becomes toxic: The warning signs

Types of toxic behaviors include tearing others down, passive aggressive leadership, destructive gossip, devious politics, negativity, aggressiveness, narcissism, lack of credibility, passivity, disorganization, and the resistance to change. These behaviors—individually or combined—can create a toxic workplace environment.

Leadership—or the lack of it—lays at the core a toxic workplace. When a toxic workplace develops on a peer-to-peer level, it is the lack of leadership that allows it to fester. All too often, however, toxic workplaces are created from the top down, when managers or supervisors are the root of the problem. One study found that 37 percent of workers said they had been bullied at work and that the majority of those bullies (72 percent), were bosses.

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How Leadership Can Build a Resilient Culture

Posted by Chad Vamos on Aug 21, 2014 11:01:31 AM

Below is a summary of a white paper written by Marion White

Building a Resilient Organizational Culture

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. 

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. 

Stress lowers employee performance, productivity, morale, and strains workplace relationships. People experiencing excessive stress have difficulty managing emotions, focusing attention, making decisions, and thinking clearly. Stress can also result in heart disease, cancer, pain, and depression. Stressed employees are overwhelmed, tired, and disengaged. 

Resilient employees, on the other hand, are more engaged and productive, have improved communication, are better team players, and have lower health care costs. And a growing body of research shows that organizations that foster positive attitudes have employees who are more optimistic, creative, and experience lower turnover.    

Organizational Culture

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. It makes sense, then, that HR and talent management professionals should strive to shift their organizational cultures to one that embraces and fosters resilience.

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Topics: employee engagement, leadership, organizational culture, change

The Big Data Talent Gap

Posted by Chad Vamos on Aug 14, 2014 1:03:21 PM

Check out the summary of a white paper by Stan Ahalt and Kip Kelly:

Big data—the massive amounts of information companies collect through web crawlers, social media feeds, server logs, customer service databases, and other sources—is quickly becoming big business in today’s competitive marketplace, and if business leaders haven’t added big data to their strategic agendas yet, they will be compelled to in the near future. Few organizations, however, have the talent with the expertise needed to collect, organize, and analyze the data and to provide meaningful insights. Even fewer organizations have business leaders with the knowledge and experience needed to create value from big data.  HR and talent management professionals should understand how big data will affect their organizations and should be thinking about how best to build big data talent in their organizations.

Big data is transforming every industry as companies realize the opportunities they have to leverage big data analytics in marketing, sales, and operations. Google, for example, uses big data analytics to identify flu outbreaks in the United States in real time—a feat that takes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about two weeks to do because it relies on slower reporting mechanisms. Google can identify the outbreaks faster because it receives more than three billion search queries on a daily basis and saves them all. Through big data analytics, Google was able to identify 45 search terms that, when used in a mathematical model, showed a strong correlation between their predictions and the CDC’s figures.


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Topics: talent management, high-potential talent, data

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

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