Chapel Hill Immersion: Leadership Development – Days Two and Three

With over 320 students, this year’s immersion at Chapel Hill was the largest to date. Two hundred and twenty-six of these students were enrolled in the Leadership Development tracks, where sessions covered everything from identifying and practicing ethical behavior to maximizing your skill set and performing well under pressure. Let’s take a closer look at days two and three:

Career Services: Avoiding Leadership Derailment

Katrin Baker, Associate Director of Career & Leadership Services, UNC Kenan-Flagler

Katrin Baker, University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Associate Director of Career and Leadership Services, kicked off the second day of the immersion by explaining to the students how best to avoid leadership derailment. With the stated goal of shaping leaders and driving results, Kenan-Flagler is committed to helping students pinpoint strengths in an effort to become the best leaders they can be.

Baker focused on the students’ individual strengths, saying that "you have to know and lead self before you can know and lead others." Strengths, Baker said, are a combination of talent (a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied) and investment.

Only 20% of US workers say they are in jobs that use their talents, yet people who are aligned with their strengths find greater success/happiness in their daily work.

Workers also experience growth when they are challenged but capable. Baker referred to this state as "being in flow." Strengths, however, can work against leaders, derailing them from achieving their goals. How? These “derailers,” as she termed them, are overused strengths and personality traits. A highly cautious person, for example, may produce flawless work and be highly dependable; under duress, however, they may find themselves unable to make a decision without first consulting scores of others. Baker said that strategic self-awareness of these issues is key to preventing leadership derailment. Ultimately, students must remain open to challenge and change.

Effective Team Dynamic

Dave Hofmann, Hugh L. McColl Distinguished Professor and Area Chai, Organizational Behavior, UNC Kenan-Flagler

UNC Kenan-Flagler professor David Hofmann led a talk on effective team dynamics, asking student to brainstorm about previous teams they had been on and what traits made those teams effective or ineffective. Students suggested that effective teams are those that have things like clear goals and expectations, emotional intelligence, accountability and shared motivation.

Ineffective teams, by contrast, suffer from poor decision making, a failure to address conflict, micromanaging, poor listening and “group think.” Professor Hofmann agreed, citing Lencioni's 5 team dysfunctions: lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, no accountability and an inattention to results. He told the students that an “effective team” is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of external stakeholders and still wants to work together again even once the project has been turned in.

These teams share a common purpose, the right structure and an effective process, ultimately resulting in positive outcomes. All teams, Hofmann said, go through four key stages of team development and growth:

  1. forming (coming together)
  2. storming (conflict)
  3. norming (synergy)
  4. performing (results)

One way to smooth the process from “forming” to “performing” is to establish a team charter, a written social contract that details team commitments and relationships. In general, Hofmann said, citing Roger Schwarz’ work, smarter teams are those that know to state their views up front, ask genuine questions, share relevant info with teammates, use specific examples and define key words before a communication problem arises. Above all else, they focus on interests and goals and not the assorted positions of team members.

This immersion was a tremendous experience! I initially chose to do a Chapel Hill immersion because I did not want a degree from UNC without ever stepping foot on the campus. This experience surpassed my expectations! The focus of the weekend on networking and leadership communications was made clear not only in the class work, but also over dinner and drinks in the evening. I met several other individuals this weekend who also work in my field of pharmaceutical development with whom I am certain I will remain in touch. In regards to Dave Hoffman's class, not only was his teaching style very engaging and humorous, but also poignant. I will be returning to work this week to implement what I learned with my team. One of my favorite take-aways from the class was remembering how different people may have issues going on that are not immediately apparent. It is important to keep this in mind in groups. In a sentence, "everyone is somebody else's 'idiot.'"
--Patrick Twomey, January 2014 Cohort

Sustaining Personal Change

Robert Goldberg, Founder and Principal of Organization Insight

Robert Goldberg, Founder and Principal of Organization Insight, helped bring the 2014 Chapel Hill immersion to a close with his talk on emotional intelligence and sustaining personal change. He asked the students what "emotional intelligence" meant to them and received a number of answers, including self-control, self-awareness, and the ability to be alert to one’s surroundings.Goldberg concurred, and shared that emotional intelligence is made up of four dimensions: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Realistic self-assessment, a key component of the emotional intelligence dimension self-awareness, requires that you don't overly self-criticize or deny shortcomings. People with good social awareness, on the other hand, know where the powers lie in an organization, enabling them to navigate social situations with ease.

After explaining the key dimensions of emotional intelligence, Goldberg brought the students back to the topic of change: how to make personal change and how to sustain it long-term. He shared with the students that all people want to change things about themselves but are often sending mixed signals. The key to creating long-term change is identifying whether a challenge is a mindset or adaptive issue or whether it’s a true technical challenge.

For the latter, a task might be difficult, but skill sets are already in place that enable the person in question to accomplish the task. An adaptive challenge, on the other hand, requires changing how we think about the challenge. People often misconstrue one for the other. As Goldberg put it, “we often underestimate or apprehend adaptive challenges, and treat them as technical challenges.”

Students then split up into groups of two to discuss an essential question: what does each want to change and what gets in their way to get it? In order to sustain personal change long-term, Goldberg suggested that students do the following:

  1. Make a big improvement goal
  2. Take personal responsibility
  3. Name any competing commitments
  4. Identify big assumptions
  5. Do safe, recoverable experiments
This session really tied all the previous ones together for me. Robert Goldberg got at the crux of why when people try to make changes they oftentimes fail and revert back to old habits, and what to do about it. What I learned from this session will allow me to successfully and sustainably transform into a better leader. This immersion has reaffirmed my connection to Kenan-Flagler. I did not think it was possible to learn so many valuable skills in just four days, all while meeting so many amazing people who I can now call friends.
--Dave Hier, October 2014 Cohort

For more about the MBA@UNC Global Immersions, see our post on Chapel Hill day one or catch up on the events of previous immersions.