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May 25, 2017

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Infographic: 360 Assessments – Don’t Fear The 360by Zenger Folkman

Zenger Folkman, has spent years researching and creating a best-in-class 360-degree assessment that measures an individual’s strengths and potential fatal flaws, and correlates those results to significant business outcomes like employee engagement, retention and bottom-line profitability. Our 360-degree assessments deliver results that others simply can’t match.

Download the infographic to learn more about our 360 assessments. For further learning, visit the 360-Degree Assessments Page

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May 23, 2017

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Ep. 95: A 15-Year Overnight Success – From the Basement to $2.5 Billion (feat. Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics)by Zenger Folkman

Ryan Smith, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qualtrics, joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss the story of Qualtrics, a company started in his dad’s basement with a valuation of $2.5 billion 15 years later. Ryan tells the story of Qualtrics, its values, and what makes it unique.

Qualtrics is the world’s leading enterprise survey technology provider, serving more than 6,000 enterprises worldwide, including half of the Fortune 100, and 97 of the top 100 business schools. Qualtrics helps enterprises, academic institutions, and government agencies capture real-time customer, market, and employee insights that inform data-driven business decisions.

Download the free ebook for A 15-Year Overnight Success - From the Basement to $2.5 Billion (feat. Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics).


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eBook: A 15-Year Overnight Success: From the Basement to $2.5 Billion (feat. Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics)by Zenger Folkman


Ryan Smith, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qualtrics, joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss the story of Qualtrics, a company started in his dad’s basement with a valuation of $2.5 billion 15 years later. Ryan tells the story of Qualtrics, its values, and what makes it unique.

May 10, 2017

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How to Improve at Work When You’re Not Getting Feedbackby Zenger Folkman

Too many managers avoid giving any kind of feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. If you work for a boss who doesn’t provide feedback, it’s easy to feel rudderless. It can be especially disorienting if you’re new in the role, new to the company, or a recent graduate new to the workforce. In the absence of specific guidance, is there any way to know what the average boss would want you to work on?

While everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses they need to work on, when we examined our database of performance evaluation information for more than 7,000 individual contributors and 5,000 managers, we noticed a reliable pattern. There were five behaviors that managers most often associated with high performance:

Delivering results. The strongest, most consistent correlations were skills that focused on achieving results. When individuals were able to achieve goals on schedule and did everything possible to get results, managers were impressed. Another critical component was the quality of work. The person needed to deliver outputs that met high standards.

Being a trusted collaborator. High performance ratings went with being trusted. Being trusted emanates from good interpersonal skills. Strong collaborators were excellent communicators and were held up as role models. Some individuals strive to stand out by working independently, so that it’s clear who deserves the credit. Our data suggests those individuals typically fail. The highest performers, on the other hand, cooperated with other groups and were trusted in making decisions.

Having strong technical/professional expertise. For both managers and individual contributors, technical/professional expertise drove their performance evaluation. People devoid of a deep understanding of the technical issues facing the organization work at a significant disadvantage. Some come into an organization with fresh expertise but, by coasting, become obsolete over time. Technology changes quickly. Keeping up-to-date is essential.

Translating vision and strategy into meaningful goals. The best performers understood the organizational strategy and were able to apply that understanding in their job to make a contribution. Those who did not make the effort to connect their work to the company strategy appeared to work in a vacuum. Often, their decisions were based on personal preferences rather than on being aligned with the vision. Understanding the strategy impacted performance ratings for both managers and individual contributors.

Marketing their work well. If someone is frustrated or disappointed with their performance rating, they often lament and think: “My work should speak for itself.” Good products are successful usually because they are not only a good product — they have been marketed well, too. The fact is, good work rarely speaks for itself. Managers are surrounded by hundreds of shiny objects seeking to grab their attention. Good work needs a little marketing.

As you read through this list, think about how you stack up on each of these. Do you have strong expertise but need to work on your collaborative skills? Are you a great team player who needs to learn to toot your own horn? How much output do you generate, compared with the rest of your team, and how is the quality of what you turn in? You can try asking peers for feedback on these areas if you can’t get any feedback from your boss.

If you’re a manager, our data dive revealed two additional qualities to focus on:

Speed. We have been tracking this dimension for several years. It’s become a critical factor influencing individual success. Information is flowing faster, competitors are coming out with new products, global dynamics are changing preferences, and the need to move work at a fast pace is a key differentiator between good leaders and great leaders. In researching our book Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution,we found compelling information that leaders who were speedy were rated as being two times more effective as leaders, had significantly more engaged employees, and were more likely to get promoted.

The ability to inspire and motivate others. We have rated the effectiveness of this skill for more than 85,000 leaders, and found that, compared with 15 other leadership competencies, this is rated the lowest. Yet when we asked more than 1 million respondents which competency is most important, “inspires and motivates” ranks number one. Fifty years ago, people might have worked for money alone, but today people want to be inspired.

We might also humbly suggest that if you’re a manager, you try to get a little better at giving feedback.

Read the article on Harvard Business Review.

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Ep. 94: Six New Ways To Build Leadership Development Into Your Jobby Zenger Folkman

Most leaders are extremely busy getting their job done. At the same time, they also realize that investing effort in their own leadership development is good. The problem is that when faced with a choice, work seems to always trump personal development. Everyone runs fast and hard, and personal development is put off as executives wait and hope for a break in the schedule.

This is a false dichotomy. First, work and development should not be seen as competing activities. Here’s the reason to combine them: Doing one can accomplish the other. You can make your daily job into a practical leadership classroom and laboratory. If you choose to do this, you can constantly improve your leadership skills while getting your job done. That, in turn, benefits your organization, your working associates, and most certainly, you.

In this presentation, Dr. Jack Zenger shares specific ways you can bring your personal development and your job closer together.

Read "Throw Your Old Plan Away: 6 New Ways To Build Leadership Development Into Your Job" on Forbes.


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May 3, 2017

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Why Do So Many Managers Avoid Giving Praise?by Zenger Folkman

One of the most difficult parts of a manager’s job is giving feedback. In a survey of 7,631 people, we asked whether they believed that giving negative feedback was stressful or difficult, and 44% agreed. When talking with managers about giving feedback we often hear comments such as, “I did not sleep the night before,” “I just wanted to get it over quickly,” “My hands were sweating and I was nervous,” and “They don’t pay me enough to do this job.” We find that because of this anxiety, some managers resist giving their direct reports any kind of critical feedback at all: when we asked a different group of 7,808 people to conduct a self-assessment, 21% admitted that they avoid giving negative feedback.

Given how unpleasant giving critical feedback can be, perhaps that isn’t surprising. But what we were surprised to see is that even more people admitted that they avoided giving positive feedback! 37% of the people who took our self-assessment conceded that they don’t give positive reinforcement.

We can only conclude that many managers feel that it’s their job to tell their direct reports bad news and correct them when they make a mistake, but that taking the time to provide positive feedback is optional.

We think this is a mistake. Our research suggests that colleagues place a great deal of emphasis on receiving positive feedback – and that it colors their relationship with one another even more than does negative feedback.

We compared 328 managers’ self-assessments with results from 360-degree feedback surveys. Each leader was rated by an average of 13 respondents on a variety of behaviors, including “Gives honest feedback in a helpful way.” The raters who thought a person was effective in giving feedback were most influenced by the leader’s comfort and willingness to give positive reinforcement. Whether the manager gave negative feedback did not make a big difference — unless the leader avoided giving positive feedback. This was also true when we looked only at the ratings of direct reports.

When we looked only at the managers’ self-assessments, however, we saw a different story. There was a strong correlation between people who believe they give “honest, straightforward” feedback and those who give negative feedback, regardless of whether they also give positive feedback.

Leaders obviously carry some incorrect beliefs about the value and benefits of different forms of feedback. They vastly underestimate the power and necessity of positive reinforcement. Conversely, they greatly overestimate the value and benefit of negative or corrective feedback. In all, they misjudge the impact negative feedback has on how they are perceived by their colleagues, bosses, and direct reports. Giving only negative feedback diminishes a leader’s effectiveness in the eyes of others and does not have the effect they believe it has.

Perhaps in an effort to provide employees with what they believe is direct, honest feedback, managers who prefer giving negative feedback may come across as only looking for what’s wrong. Some employees have described this as, “Quick to criticize and slow to praise.” While our findings don’t tell us why managers are so hesitant to give positive feedback, our work with leaders suggests that there could be a variety of reasons. Perhaps it starts with the perception that the really good managers are the tough graders who are not afraid to tell people what’s wrong. Possibly they believe that giving people positive feedback will encourage a subordinate to let up or coast. Maybe they are emulating their prior bosses who gave little praise, but who pointed out any mistake or weakness. Some may believe it a sign of weakness to praise subordinates. Maybe they just don’t know how to effectively deliver appreciation or praise. Or maybe they intend to give kudos, but feel so busy that the days slip by and they never quite remember to send out that note of praise for a job well done.

Giving positive feedback is really quite simple. It’s OK if it’s brief – it just needs to be specific, rather than a general remark of “good job,” and ideally occurs soon after the praise-worthy incident. Of course it’s also best when it’s sincere and heartfelt.

Our findings suggest that if you want to be seen as a good feedback-giver, you should proactively develop the skill of giving praise as well as criticism. Giving positive feedback shows your direct reports that you are in their corner, and that you want them to win and to succeed. Once people know you are their advocate, it should also make giving criticism less stressful and more effective.


Read the article on Harvard Business Review.

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Advice For Those Who Believe They Give Great Adviceby Zenger Folkman

You’ve probably encountered many situations in which you’ve had a strong desire to give another person advice. Your motive may have been one of the following:

1. I wanted to show the person I truly cared.

2. I thought the advice would help the person develop.

3. I thought my suggestion would help improve their performance.

4. I wanted to be a better coach.

5. I was trying to improve their ideas by giving them another perspective.

6. I hoped I could inspire and motivate this person.

These are positive motives. But perhaps you had other motives, such as showing this person you were more knowledgeable. Or perhaps you wanted to demonstrate your ability to spot problems or trends early.

I’ll start this discussion by making a bold statement: Giving advice does not accomplish any of the above. Despite having any or all of the positive motives I’ve listed, giving advice will produce an effect that is opposite of what you’d probably hoped.

Recently, Zenger Folkman identified a database of 577 leaders who’d taken a self-assessment measuring the extent to which they preferred giving advice versus allowing others to discover an insight themselves. Using the self-assessment, we identified 133 who had a strong preference for giving advice. We compared their results to 123 leaders with a strong preference for allowing others to experience independent discovery.

We also collected effectiveness ratings on all of these leaders, with evaluations from managers, peers, direct reports and others. On average, leaders were rated by 13 different raters. We examined the average rating from all rater groups.

Overall Leadership Effectiveness

Some may believe that giving others advice would raise other’s perceptions of a leader’s overall effectiveness. After all, doesn’t it demonstrate their knowledge and insights? No, it does not.

To arrive at our conclusion, we measured leaders’ overall effectiveness at utilizing 16 competencies and then looked at the average of those competencies combined.

The chart below shows the comparison of overall effectiveness scores for “advice givers” with those who allowed discovery. Note that leaders with a strong preference for giving advice were rated significantly lower in their overall leadership effectiveness. (This difference is statistically significant (t=2.538, Sig. 0.012)

Impact Of Advice Giving

With the 16 competencies, each leader was rated on 49 behaviors. Only three of the behaviors were rated more positively for those who preferred to give advice, but none of the three were statistically significant. The remainder of the 46 behaviors ranked more negatively for those who prefer to dispense good advice. Twenty two of the 46 items were found to be statistically significant. We analyzed the top 17 that were highly significant (e.g., 0.02 or lower) and performed a factor analysis to understand the themes of these behaviors to group the results into six themes that describe the negative impact of giving advice, as follows.

1. Shows less concern for others and is less trusted. Those who had a strong preference for giving advice were rated significantly lower on their concern for others, their interest in staying in touch and the level to which they were trusted by others as compared to those with a strong preference for individual discovery. Advice was often perceived by others as an attempt by leaders to prove their intelligence and experience or require things be done “their way” than a demonstration of interest and concern for others.

2. Less interest in receiving feedback from others or willingness to change. Those with a strong preference for giving advice were rated much lower on actively looking for feedback and willingness to change based on feedback from others. People felt the leaders who allowed discovery were significantly more willing to create an atmosphere of continual development and improvement.

3. Less effective at developing others, coaching and giving feedback. The motive for many people who give advice is to help others develop, but their significantly lower ratings are a tell-tale sign this it’s clearly not the way the message is getting received. Just as those who prepare to teach a class learn more than their students, strong leaders who develop others spend a great deal of time listening and supporting others in their personal discovery as opposed to telling them what to do.

4. Discourage new ideas and approaches. In our research, we found that leaders with a stronger preference for giving advice were rated significantly lower on encouraging others to consider new options and tended to get stuck in a “one right way” approach. Rather than improving on the ideas of others, they discouraged them. In a nutshell, those who gave advice were much more interested in their own ideas than those of others.

5. Less effective at inspiring and motivating. Some people have imagined that once they give others their advice, the recipients will be inspired and motivated because their advice is so amazing. In reality, when someone gives advice, others are only passively or politely interested. Most inspired ideas come from discussions, not lectures. In order to inspire others, we need to understand their concerns, frustrations and passions. This understanding comes from leaders who listen much more than they talk.

6. Less effective at communicating. Even though advice givers frequently had much more to say, they were rated significantly lower at helping others to understand, and also received lower scores on their ability to communicate insights. This is a result of their lack of understanding the perspectives, needs and concerns of others. Those with a strong preference for giving advice are communicating from their own perspective, the study revealed, and have little concern for the perspective of others.

Advice For Advice Givers

Before giving others advice, take time to understand the other party and the challenges they face. Ask a number of questions to gain further understanding. Resist the temptation to give them your solution. Once you understand the problem, ask them what they would like to do to get it resolved. Then ask them for another solution, and finally, a third. At that point you might ask, “Would you like to hear a prospective additional thought?” And once you’ve offered your suggestion, invite them to select the solution that will work best for them. They may not select the solution you offered. But in the process of the discussion, they will feel you are concerned, can be trusted, and are interested in their development. This will inspire them as much (or more) than anything else you may have to say.

Read the article on Forbes.

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Ep. 93: COACHABILITY: How Coachable Are Your Leaders? (feat. Kevin Wilde)by Zenger Folkman

A great deal of attention has been given to helping managers acquire better coaching skills. Organizations have earnestly sought to create a feedback-rich, coaching culture. However, are we forgetting or ignoring an important element of success in this endeavor?

The success of coaching hinges on the behavior of two people—not just one. Our research clearly shows that leaders who are resistant to, or uncomfortable with being coached are less likely to succeed. The quality of being coachable seems extremely important early in one’s career. This webinar will answer the questions:

  • What can and should be done for those who are the recipients of coaching?
  • What behaviors can be easily identified and practiced by virtually every leader to enhance their coachability?

Join Jack and Joe and special guest Kevin Wilde, Executive Leadership Fellow, Carlson School of Management, as they reveal the exciting findings of this recent study!


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April 26, 2017

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Ep. 92: Seven Ways to Increase Employee Satisfaction Without Giving A Raiseby Zenger Folkman

A few years ago when employees became dissatisfied with their organization they would quit and get another job. Today, with placement opportunities very low and unemployment extremely high, very few people opt to quit and leave. As a result something much worse is happening within organizations. Employees “quit,” but they stay. In the last year, overall job satisfaction in the U.S. has declined significantly. Employees feel stuck in their current jobs and their dissatisfaction with the organizations they work for increases.

However, not all organizations are experiencing these dismal results. A recent assessment of employee satisfaction by one of our clients showed a significant improvement over past years, though this company was not immune to the effects of the recession. Examination of the data showed 7 factors that created this positive increase in their satisfaction, even during the economy’s poorest times.

Join Dr. Joe Folkman as he discusses these seven factors and gives practical ways to increase employee satisfaction in your organization.

Read the "Seven Ways to Increase Employee Satisfaction Without Giving A Raise" on Forbes.


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April 19, 2017

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Ep. 91: Ethics in Leadership – The 8 Rules to Prevent Misuse of Corporate Powerby Zenger Folkman

There is an oft-quoted statement from the 19th century moralist and historian Lord Acton that says, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He was writing to a Bishop Mandell Creighton in the year 1887. The quotation goes on to say, “Great men are almost always bad men."

It is clear that the egregious acts of dishonesty executed by people who hold the most senior roles in their firm have destroyed careers and in many cases have destroyed entire organizations in their aftermath.

Unethical behavior is caused by the combination of several forces and by understanding these elements, organizations can take steps to prevent them.

In this presentation, Dr. Jack Zenger discusses these forces and gives ways that companies can ensure strong ethics in their leadership.

Read the "Ethics in Leadership - The 8 Rules to Prevent Misuse of Corporate Power" on Forbes.


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