UNC Kenan-Flagler Insights http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu Welcome to UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School's Home for Blogs Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:28:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.6 44229737 Emotional intelligence: Can companies really feel their way to success? http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/11/07/emotional-intelligence-can-companies-really-feel-their-way-to-success/ Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:48:23 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=1027 Read More]]> Emotional IntelligenceThe following is an excerpt from a white paper by Lauren Garris, client relationship manager, UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive Development.

It has been nearly 25 years since Peter Solovay and John D. Mayer first used the term “emotional intelligence” to describe a different kind of intelligence many business leaders believe is essential to achieving success in the workplace. Unlike many other business trends that have come and gone, emotional intelligence—an intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions and to use that information to guide one’s thinking and action—still has legs. Business leaders continue to use the term and value it as a key employment factor. There is also evidence that HR and talent management professionals who make increasing emotional intelligence among all employee levels a strategic organizational priority will help boost their organization’s bottom line.

The Benefits High Levels of Emotional Intelligence Bring to Organizations

High emotional intelligence in organizations is associated with increased productivity, higher engagement levels, lower turnover and absenteeism rates, and increased market share. Daniel Goleman has theorized that 80 to 90 percent of the competencies that differentiate high-performing workers from average-performing workers can be found in the emotional intelligence domain, and one study found emotional intelligence to be two times more predictive of business performance than employee skills, knowledge, and expertise. Another study found a positive relationship between a leader’s emotional intelligence scores and his or her subordinates’ job performance ratings.

Employers are taking notice. One survey found that four out of five large companies were trying to promote emotional intelligence in their organizations. A 2011 Career Builder study found that 71 percent of the hiring managers surveyed said they valued emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ, believing that employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to remain calm under pressure, can more effectively resolve conflict, can better lead by example, and are more thoughtful in their business decisions. That same survey found that more than one-third of employers said they were placing more emphasis on emotional intelligence when hiring and making promotions. Seventy-five percent of survey participants said that when it came to promotions, they were more likely to promote the person with high emotional intelligence over a person with a high IQ.

These studies make an extremely persuasive argument for HR and talent management professionals as to why their organization should focus on improving emotional intelligence at all employee levels.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional intelligence can be developed, but it will take time and patience. A three-hour seminar simply will not have a long-term effect. HR and talent management professionals who want to improve their organization’s emotional intelligence should consider the following steps offered by Cary Cherniss and Daniel Golemen:

  1. Select for emotional intelligence.
  2. Start at the top to assess emotional intelligence and to achieve buy-in.
  3. After the senior leader pilot program, launch a voluntary, company-wide initiative.
  4. Evaluate the program’s effectiveness.

The concept of emotional intelligence has stood the test of time, and study after study has demonstrated the value it can bring to an organization. HR and talent management professionals have the opportunity to improve their organizations’ productivity and bottom lines by making increased emotional intelligence a strategic organizational goal. It will require assessment, planning, and long-term commitment for everyone involved, but the potential benefits make the effort and time commitment well worth it.

HR’s role in linking personal, employment and leadership branding http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/10/07/hrs-role-in-linking-personal-employment-and-leadership-branding/ Mon, 07 Oct 2013 18:46:35 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=1014 Read More]]> CanStock_ExecDev_PersonalBrandingThe following is an excerpt from a white paper by Meena Dorr, director of career and professional development, UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive MBA programs.

Although a cover letter and resume are still important in the hiring process, a new hurdle recently has been added to the mix. Thanks to the rise of social media, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly checking out the candidate’s LinkedIn profile or other personal or professional social media site, or searching for job samples on YouTube or SlideShare. This new step in the process led to a renewed emphasis on the importance of personal branding and, conversely, because applicants can now find more information about a potential employer than ever before online, a renewed emphasis on the importance of employment and leadership branding. 

Personal branding helps candidates differentiate themselves in the hiring marketplace. An employment brand is the image an organization wants to project to the employment marketplace about what it is like to work there. A leadership brand conveys an executive’s identity and distinctiveness as a leader.  All three of these brands are linked, and the savvy talent management professional should understand and promote these linkages.

The Personal Brand

Personal branding has been around since the early 20th century, but it has gained more traction in recent years as a way to differentiate oneself in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Career development experts strongly recommend that all employees, from entry-level to seasoned professional, develop and maintain a strong personal brand. And while this recommendation includes HR and talent management professionals, this cohort has even more reason to be up-to- date with the personal branding trend; personal branding often reflects, for good or bad, the person’s perception of their current and past employers. Personal brands and employment brands, therefore, are inextricably intertwined, and HR and talent management professionals have an opportunity to help employees develop their own personal brands while reflecting a positive employment brand. 

The Employment Brand

Like personal branding, employment branding has been around for a while, but the rise in the use of social media—which can easily make or break an employment brand—has made employment branding a renewed priority in many organizations. Social media has made it easier than ever for disgruntled employees to tweet or post their complaints about employers, quickly damaging an employment brand. 

Good employment brands that take advantage of social media attract talent to an organization’s website to learn more about its values and to apply for a job. It also attracts people who truly believe in the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and can help bolster an organization’s public image by communicating its culture, work practices, management style, and growth opportunities. The entire organization “owns” an employment brand. HR and talent management professionals, however, should use the values espoused through the employment brand to assess a candidate’s fit and for developing employees in ways that promote those values. In the recruiting and hiring phase, HR should evaluate a person’s values to see if they align with the organization’s values. Once they are on board, employees should be coached about the employment brand and encouraged to represent that brand to others in an honest, authentic way.

The Leadership Brand

The leadership brand not only reflects the values and qualities a leader has to offer an organization, it also reflects the organization’s values. Leadership branding can be used as a personal career building tool for executives to promote themselves to other organizations, but there are positive attributes to leadership branding that can directly benefit the organization. Leadership branding can help organizations because it can attract investors, high-quality customers, and top talent. It can also increase the organization’s value and help guide leaders’ behavior. It can also boost the company’s reputation by helping to promote its leaders as thought leaders in their industries.

Linking Personal, Employment, and Leadership Branding

HR professionals should foster personal, employment, and leadership branding because each one adds value to the organization, and all three are inextricably linked. Helping employees identify their personal brands through personal development opportunities (like media training, public speaking development, preparing for promotions, etc.) helps the employer understand employees’ career goals and aspirations, and can help HR professionals develop individualized learning and development plans. It can also help in succession planning, recruitment, and cultural fit placement. Employers who know their employees’ personal brands can use that knowledge to identify and groom future leaders and to start the process of leadership branding early in an employee’s career cycle.  

Personal branding can help the employment brand because employees who are clear about their personal brands and how their employers are actively fostering them are engaged, motivated employees who say good things about their employer. They become “brand ambassadors” who share the same values as the organization and who are happy to communicate those values to others. 

HR and talent management professionals know that today’s successful organizations are the ones with the ability to adapt and innovate, qualities that are employee-driven. Employers who help employees identify their personal brand as it aligns with the organization’s employment and leadership brands reap the rewards in increased engagement, which leads to increased business value.

Tips for the job search from LinkedIn’s John Hill http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/10/04/tips-for-the-job-search-from-linkedins-john-hill/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 17:05:46 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=988 Read More]]> 20130910_LinkedIn_John_Hill_036LinkedIn’s higher education evangelist John Hill visited UNC Kenan-Flagler to help students, faculty, staff and alumni learn how to effectively use LinkedIn’s powerful networking tools. Here are his tips for the job search.

Get direction. LinkedIn’s alumni tool gives you the ability to filter alumni by location, company, industry or position, allowing you to see where other UNC Kenan-Flagler grads are employed. If you need direction when setting career goals, look at profiles of business leaders to see their career trajectory – you can use this as a guide towards achieving your own professional goals.

Be the first to know about a job opening. If you’ve got your eye on a position at a specific company, use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find employees who recently left the company. Chances are that they will update their LinkedIn profiles before HR has a chance to post the job opening. Use your network to reach out to connections at the company and express your interest in the position.

Make a connection. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to locate people in specific positions (such as the current CEO), then narrow the list using factors such as university affiliation or location to see a relational map of how you’re connected to them. This search takes under a minute to perform and narrows down the millions of profiles on LinkedIn to a small group, making it easy to identify new connections to help with your job search.

Ace your interview. In preparation for an interview, view the LinkedIn profiles of executives you will meet and take note of what you have in common (such as mountain biking or UNC basketball). Use these commonalities as conversation starters or mention them if asked about your interests. Candidates who easily converse and relate to their interviewers have a higher “likeability” factor – something that carries a lot of weight with hiring managers.

Profile tips from LinkedIn’s John Hill http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/10/04/profile-tips-from-linkedins-john-hill/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 17:04:45 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=979 Read More]]> 20130910_LinkedIn_John_Hill_076_CropLinkedIn’s higher education evangelist John Hill visited UNC Kenan-Flagler to help students, faculty, staff and alumni learn how to effectively use LinkedIn’s powerful networking tools. Here are his tips for creating an effective profile.

Profiles should not be a duplicate of your resume. Instead, ensure that your resume and LinkedIn profile complement each other.

  • Use the “summary” field to let employers know what makes you tick.
  • Use the “interests” section to share your passions and interests outside of work. This gives prospective employers a glimpse into your personality through information that’s not on your resume.

Every word of your LinkedIn profile is searchable; use this to your advantage.

Showcase your portfolio. LinkedIn allows you to upload rich media such as presentations, video and photos to your profile.

Get connected to people who have recently viewed your profile. If you’re in the job market, profile views show that employers are interested.

How to add notes to your connections’ profiles on LinkedIn http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/10/04/how-to-add-notes-to-your-connections-profiles-on-linkedin/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 17:01:43 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=996 Read More]]> LinkedIn-Logo-2COne of LinkedIn’s hidden gems is its ability to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool – an incredibly useful (yet underutilized) feature for business professionals and job seekers.

Below is a step-by-step guide to adding notes to your connections’ profiles on LinkedIn.

  • Log into LinkedIn and click “network” then “contacts”
  • Click on the name of the contact you want to add notes to
  • Click on “edit details”
  • Click the area where you want to add information or notes and input the information
  • Click “save changes”
  • To export contact information and notes, click “export connections” and follow the prompts to save as a CSV (Excel) file.

This capability is available to first- level connections. Any information that you enter onto a connection’s profile is only visible to the person who created it; it is not visible to the profile owner or the public.

Powering your bottom line through employee engagement http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/09/05/powering-your-bottom-line-through-employee-engagement/ Thu, 05 Sep 2013 12:33:15 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=941 Read More]]> Exec Dev Sept 2013The following is an excerpt from a white paper by Kimberly Schaufenbuel, director of UNC Executive Development.

Some of the biggest concerns CEOs say they grapple with on a regular basis with are operational excellence, innovation, risk, the regulatory environment, and the global economy. Addressing those concerns effectively takes human capital, the “people thread” that is the key to helping organizations compete and win. It takes more than bodies, though, to gain the competitive advantage organizations need to positively impact their bottom lines. They need fully engaged, motivated employees.

Unfortunately, engaged employees are a rare find these days. A recent Gallup poll found that more than 70 percent of American workers are either actively or passively disengaged from their work. Now is the time for HR, talent management professionals, and business leaders to assess (or re-assess) how widespread and entrenched employee disengagement is in their organizations and partner together to improve it.

The Price of Employee Disengagement

The financial cost of employee disengagement for organizations and economies is staggering. Consider the following:

  • According to Gallup, disengaged workers costs the U.S. economy $370 billion a year in lost productivity.
  • According to a McLean & Company study, disengaged employees cost organizations $3,400 a year for every $10,000 in annual salary.
  • Watson Wyatt found that turnover—the inevitable outcome of disengagement—costs organizations between 48 and 61 percent of an employee’s annual salary.

The financial costs to organizations include more than lost productivity and increased employee turnover. Disengaged workers are absent from work more often than engaged workers, are more likely to engage in theft, have more safety incidents, and exhibit poorer customer service. The Gallup poll found that organizations with higher employee engagement levels experience:

  • 37 percent less absenteeism;
  • 25 percent less turnover in high-turnover organizations;
  • 65 percent less turnover in low-turnover organizations;
  • 28 percent less shrinkage (theft);
  • 48 percent less safety incidents;
  • 41 percent less patient safety incidents;
  • 41 percent less quality incidents (defects);
  • 10 percent higher customer metrics;
  • 21 percent more productivity, and;
  • 22 percent more profitability.

Disengaged workers not only have a negative effect on employee morale, they are also detrimental to an organization’s financial health. It is imperative that HR and talent management professionals regularly take the pulse of employee engagement levels in their organizations and take steps to ensure that senior leaders understand and support boosting those levels to improve organizational results.

Steps to Monitor and Improve Employee Engagement

There are steps that HR, talent management professionals, and organizational leaders can take to identify, monitor, and improve employee engagement levels:

Step 1: Know the engagement levels of employees.

Step 2: Measure employee engagement.

Step 3: Design and implement programs and initiatives designed to target disengaged workers.

Step 4: Ensure that leadership teams are on board with and held accountable for employee engagement levels on their teams.

To achieve stronger bottom line results, it is essential that HR and talent leaders partner with business leaders to foster a culture of engagement. HR, talent professionals, and business leaders can start by taking the pulse of their organization’s engagement levels and designing and implementing programs and policies that will re-engage and retain their talent. Engaged employees feel emotionally connected to the organization, understand what it takes to help the organization succeed, and drive for that result. Increasing an organization’s employee engagement and commitment can dramatically improve operational excellence, innovation, and the ability to compete.

Identifying High-Potential Talent in the Workplace http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/08/06/identifying-high-potential-talent-in-the-workplace/ Tue, 06 Aug 2013 16:43:00 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=910 Read More]]> Identifying High-Potential Talent in the WorkplaceThe following is an excerpt from a white paper by Kip Kelly, Director of Marketing & Business Development for UNC Executive Development.

The cornerstone to an organization’s growth-from-within strategy is the identification of high-potential talent, yet HR and talent management professionals consistently report that existing processes and programs are lacking or nonexistent. A recent leadership survey conducted by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, for example, 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.

High-potential employees have been identified as having the potential, ability, and aspiration to hold successive leadership positions in an organization. Once identified, they are often singled out for focused developmental opportunities designed to prepare them for future leadership positions. High-potential employees constitute the top 3-5 percent of a company’s talent.

There are good reasons to identify and develop high-potential employees. Key drivers to do so, according to respondents of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Leadership Survey, include the need to prepare the organization to meet the anticipated increased demand for future leaders (83 percent); to retain key talent (83 percent); and to improve organizational performance (73 percent). Developing high-potential employees also makes it more likely that they will stick around and benefit the organization rather than take their talent to a competitor.

Identifying high-potential employees is an important step in any succession management or leadership development plan, yet only 9 percent of HR and talent management professionals responding to an AMA Enterprise survey said they had a systematic process in place to identify high-potential employees. The vast majority (86 percent) said that they had a “mostly informal” or “combination of systematic and formal” process to identify high-potential employees.

Properly identifying high-potential employees can reduce high-potential drop-out rates and the associated wasted resources and expenses. Proper high-potential identification can also improve and target developmental plans for these individuals, resulting in more satisfied high-potential employees who are more likely to stay with the organization. Other benefits related to accurate high-potential identification include:

  • Better bench strength for key positions
  • Smoother transitions and shorter learning curves
  • Reduced risk of “career derailment”
  • More agility in key talent pools
  • Consistently high performance from a steady supply of superior talent

HR and talent management professionals can develop a systematic, criteria-based approach to identify high-potential employees by incorporating the following steps in their own high-potential programs.

Step 1: Plan for future leadership and staffing needs.

Step 2: Define high-potential criteria.

Step 3: Make high-potential criteria measureable.

Step 4: Systematically identify high-potential candidates.

Properly identifying high-potential employees using a formal, systematic approach can improve high-potential selection, increase the perception of fairness and impartiality within an organization, and reduce high-potential drop-out rates and turnover. It can also increase an organization’s bench strength, giving employers an edge over their competition.

How to Build a Resilient Organizational Culture http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/06/03/how-to-build-a-resilient-organizational-culture/ Mon, 03 Jun 2013 20:09:33 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=892 Read More]]> profitThe following is an excerpt from a white paper by Marion White, director of UNC Executive Development.

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.

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.

Steps HR Professionals Can Take to Introduce Resilience into Their Organizations’ Cultures

  1. Obtain senior leadership support.
  2. Build safe and secure work communities.
  3. Encourage all employees—from the CEO down—to embrace the following tips to increase energy and productivity.
  • Encourage employees to do the most important activity first thing in the morning for no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break.
  • Encourage employees to keep a running list of everything that is on their minds so they can get it off their minds.
  • Ask employees to ask themselves “Is this the best use of my time?” every time they go online. Sometimes it will be. More often, though, it is not. If the answer is no, ask “What is?” Then do it.
  • Encourage employees to systematically train their attention. A simple way is to read more books, preferably good ones.
  • Encourage employees to take a few minutes each day—either just before they leave work or just before they go to sleep—to write down the two or three most important things they want to accomplish tomorrow and when they intend to work on them.
  • Encourage employees to monitor their moods. When demand exceeds capacity, one of the most common signs is increased negative emotions.
  1. Develop policies and practices that empower employees to build resilience and have senior leaders lead by example.

Today, “business as usual” means rapid change, an influx of new technologies, economic turbulence, uncertainty, and ambiguity. To counter this new normal, organizations need employees and leaders who are agile, adaptable, and flexible. In a word, resilient. HR and talent management professionals can help by creating resilient organizational cultures. This will require a fundamental shift in thinking, away from squeezing the most productivity from employees and towards enabling employees to take care of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, thereby building resilience.

How a lack of sleep can affect employee ethics http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/05/24/how-a-lack-of-sleep-can-affect-employee-ethics/ Fri, 24 May 2013 14:20:18 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=884 Read More]]> sleepywomanThis is a story from the latest version of UNC Business magazine. To read the entire issue, download the iPad app.

By Heather Harreld

Can a lack of sleep make you more likely to be unethical at work? That is the question that intrigued Michael Christian, assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC Kenan- Flagler, and prompted him to study the effects of sleep deprivation in the workplace.

What he found about deviant behavior — hostility toward customers, stealing and other unethical actions — may surprise you. Christian studied the effects of sleep deprivation on nurses at a large medical center and on undergraduate volunteers in a laboratory setting.

He found that those who are sleep deprived — defined as having less than seven hours of sleep in the last 24 hours — are more likely than those who are not to have deviant behavior because of a failure in self-regulation. In essence, they are less able to resist temptations to do things that make them feel good.

“Managers should note this because if they have workers who are low in this ability to restrain themselves, then potentially they are playing with fire if they do something that could anger a worker or if they have a worker make a critical ethical decision on a day when they have been working really long hours,” Christian said.

“Managers should be aware of fatigue levels and aware of workload they have assigned to employees.” Sleep deprivation is becoming more prevalent in the workplace. The National Sleep Foundation estimated in 2009 that one-third of Americans were losing sleep due to financial or economic distress. The number of Americans who slept fewer than six hours a night increased from 13 percent to 20 percent between 1999 and 2009. The research found that sleep loss reduces employees’ ability to regulate emotions effectively, but not in their ability to engage in logical reasoning.

Thus, results suggest sleep deprivation could have serious consequences for jobs in which emotional displays are critical, like customer service employees who are frequently required to regulate their emotions, Christian noted. They may become annoyed and have more trouble hiding their feelings when dealing with an irate customer when they are sleep deprived. Future research can build from these findings, Christian said.

For example, self-regulation plays an important role in reducing accidents, so sleep deprivation could create significant problems for employees working in organizations where safety is an issue. Employees who are sleep deprived may be less able to restrain impulses to engage in dangerous behaviors that lead to accidents, injury and even death. Managers also should be aware of the role of the organizational culture in creating conditions that result in sleep deprivation.

“Managers can do more to consider the work/life balance of their employees,” Christian noted. “Especially in high pressure industries, managers tend to endorse cultures that encourage employees to work around the clock.  This could have unintended consequences on their ethical behavior at work.”

Managers can limit sleep deprivation:

• By using preventive techniques like sleep awareness training, including insomnia reduction strategies

• By designing jobs in a way that reduces long hours and stressful conditions (changing schedules, restricting overtime, reducing shift rotation)

• Through policies to allow workers to sleep more through the promotion of workplace napping or advocating the use of self-help books with sleep tips

• With family-friendly policies like family leave for new parents, who are likely to be sleep deprived

Leadership: When to lead by empowerment vs. when to be directive http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/2013/05/20/leadership-when-to-lead-by-empowerment-vs-when-to-be-directive/ Mon, 20 May 2013 14:50:16 +0000 http://blogs.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/?p=876 Read More]]> teamworkThis is a story from the latest version of UNC Business magazine. To read the entire issue, download the iPad app.

 By Heather Harreld

Empowering leadership — the practice of sharing power with subordinates and allowing them to collectively make decisions — has long been touted as better for performance than a more directive approach.

But is an empowering leadership style always better when managing teams? It depends on the nature and timeline of the project, according to new research from Matthew Pearsall, assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

While researchers have looked at the effects of both empowering and directive leadership styles separately, Pearsall wanted to directly compare the approaches at the same time. He studied 60 teams engaged in a command and control simulation and found that although empowering leadership offers long-term benefits for teams, it comes with short-term costs and performance delays.

As a result, he recommends that leaders managing a team on a short timeline consider a more directive style, which is characterized by providing clear directions and expectations regarding compliance with instructions.

“In short-term projects and emergent situations, a directive style may be best because teams need to be able to immediately perform at a high level and cannot afford the performance delays from learning associated with empowerment,” he said. “But, when teams have an extended timeline or must be able to adapt to complex and changing environments over time, an empowering leadership style may work best.”

Matt_Pearsall_p5x7Directive teams more quickly ramp up performance, while empowered teams typically experience initial performance delays as they learn about the competencies of others on the team and take steps to collectively make decisions and coordinate their efforts. However, the performance of directive teams eventually plateaus, and they are overtaken by their counterparts on empowered teams, who continue to improve their performance over time.

But it is important that managers do not misinterpret these findings to conclude that a directive leadership style is beneficial early and that they later should switch to an empowering style as teams progress on a project. While there may be some advantages to combining the two leadership styles, Pearsall notes, the benefits of empowering leadership emerge because team members develop effective processes for learning how to solve problems collectively. As a result, empowered teams may not be able to garner the benefits of improved performance over time without first suffering the initial performance delays associated with learning.

Key management take-aways from Pearsall’s work include:

• Empowering leaders encourage team members to engage in role exchanges and collective investigation in the early life of the team as they learn about the project or task environment and each other’s expertise to foster routines to coordinate their behaviors.

• Because of the critical role of team learning in empowered teams, managers who seek to adopt an empowered leadership style also should focus their efforts on facilitating team learning and information sharing.

• Leaders of empowered teams need to encourage risk taking and experimentation to spur the development of a psychologically safe team environment.

• Empowering leaders who genuinely value the input of their team members and allow them to fail without repercussions may be best able to cultivate an autonomous learning environment.

• Leaders who attempt to fake an empowering manner without any real willingness to sacrifice their own authority may be thought of as disingenuous, and the team may never develop to the levels needed for learning.