December 15, 2016 / Articles We Like / Leadership / Strategy

On “What Great Managers Do Daily”

We’ve all read the numerous articles highlighting the must-have qualities of an effective manager. Beyond the personal traits – what is it exactly that makes a manager great on a day-to-day basis?

Inspired by a Gallup study that found that about 70% of people in management roles are not well equipped for the job, Ryan Fuller and Nina Shikaloff’s recent Harvard Business Review article “What Great Managers Do Daily,” highlights employee engagement results from two Fortune 500 companies. Their conclusion is that most companies understand the importance of having highly effective managers, but few understand how to make them more effective. This article provides five key findings about what makes great managers different than the rest.

What do you think about their results and recommendations?

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February 2, 2016 / Articles We Like / Leadership / Strategy

On "The Wild West of Measuring Corporate Sustainability"

Many companies have made sustainability measures part of their corporate goals. The impetus to do so might be driven by cost reduction measures, the need to ensure a future supply of materials, or a desire to make a positive impact on the communities they serve. Reporting on progress of sustainable development is a fairly recent business trend, and as such, varying degrees of standards exist, with varying degrees of transparency. At the same time, investors are becoming more savvy about the information they want from their portfolio companies.

In this Stanford Social Innovation Review article, The Wild West of Measuring Corporate Sustainability, author Eric Nitzberg builds a case for why executives ought to stay ahead of sustainability reporting trends to meet the expectations of modern investors. He also cites key sustainability reporting resources leaders can leverage to inform their sustainability strategies moving forward.

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June 29, 2015 / Articles We Like / Leadership

On “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders”

Trust is a key ingredient for creating an engaged and productive workforce. Yet competing priorities, daily pressures and sometimes a lack of self-awareness can get in the way of effective communication and leadership. When we read the survey results in this article, the list of complaints employees have about their leaders seemed all too familiar to us as executive coaches. But by bringing awareness to the power of meaningful connection with employees, we know leaders can make a huge impact on productivity in the workplace.

We share the Harvard Business Review article, “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders“, by Lou Solomon, to help raise awareness of your communication and connection with employees. Try implementing the suggestions to build more trust!

Tell us: What communication practices do you find most effective for connecting with your employees?

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May 11, 2015 / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | Attire and Career Success

Janelle asks: I’m interested in making a career move within my company. Though our office is business casual, most of my peers dress fairly casually and it doesn’t seem to be an issue. I want to show management I’m serious about the next step up but don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb by dressing up. In today’s business environment, especially in a casual company, how important is attire to career success?

Tawny Lees, COO, responds :

Great question! How you present yourself can be very relevant to being seen as promotable, even in a casual office. In addition to having requisite talent, managers and leaders need to inspire confidence, and this is largely conveyed through presence. Others make judgments based on how you present yourself. Dressing with a certain amount of style in a casual environment says you are serious about your career and projects confidence. Consider the image you want to project. You might start by observing how your leaders dress, as they set the tone for acceptable behavior and attire. Evolve your work-wear by integrating some of those details, such as wearing a blouse or collared shirt instead of a tee shirt or a nice pair of shoes instead of sneakers. You can likely find a way to feel like yourself, while taking it up a notch to project your desired image. Nuance is key – don’t go overboard and be the sore thumb you mentioned!  If you are totally baffled, try a personal shopper at any major retailer; they can help you pick out some perfect pieces, and usually at no extra charge.

Good luck!

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April 7, 2015 / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Andrea asks: I’ve been working in my industry for about 18 years and have aspirations for advancement. I joined my current company 9 months ago in my position as a mid-level manager. I was excited to join and hit the ground running. Soon after I started, I learned that the CEO was stepping down. An interim CEO was named until a permanent replacement could be found.  Eventually the company hired an external leader, and as it turns out, I know this person from a previous development program we were in together and am not impressed. I would prefer to work in a company with a CEO I can learn from. Our new leaders are young, untested, and in my opinion, unprepared for the realities of some of the systemic challenges among the staff. I have opportunities for a lateral move with other companies but am not sure if I should leave after just one year in position. I’m also concerned that my chances for advancement will be hindered with this new leader. What advice do you have for me?

Sue Bethanis, CEO, responds:

Thanks for your question, it’s a good one, and one we hear often. It is also a hard question to respond to without a little bit more context, because it is certainly not a black and white situation.  There are many things to weigh before you would choose to leave.  Here are some questions to think about:

  1. Are you set in your opinion about the CEO? For example, are there one or two things you could learn from him/her? What are some things you could possibly learn from each other?
  2. How long has the CEO been in the position, and could you give him/her 90 days to see if he/she hits the ground running in the positive way you didn’t expect?
  3. If you do want to leave, is the leaving after one year an issue for you because it will look like you’re jumping around? Instead of worrying too much about that, try focusing on doing everything you can to ensure you are supporting the current company in its efforts to succeed and the company is supporting you.
  4. As a mid-level manager, I am assuming you aren’t reporting directly to the new CEO, and instead reporting to someone else. If this is the case, and you have a good working relationship with your manager, this is golden, and I suggest putting more weight on that.

I hope the questions I have posed are helpful to you. Happy to discuss further offline.  Good luck to you!

 

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April 2, 2015 / Leadership / Mariposa Articles

The Communication Toolbox

We all grow up with our own unique communication style. Some people by nature are very direct. They come right to the point. They tell it like it is. They don’t mince words. Other people are more diplomatic, more indirect, more subtle in their communication. Indeed, there are a variety of communication styles—quiet, loud, forceful, caring, showy, authentic, and many more.

One metaphor I have found helpful in working with leaders to develop their communication skills is what I call “The Communication Toolbox.” The idea is that we each have a communication style that is most natural and comfortable for us.  Usually, it’s a style we began to develop early in our lives or careers, and that somehow has served us well.  But no one communication style is going to be right for all situations, and leaders encounter a tremendous diversity of people and contexts.  Part of being a well-rounded leader means having more than just one tool.  The further up you go in an organization, the more important it is to have a broader set of tools in your communication toolbox.To read the entire article, visit the Sierra Leadership blog.

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December 22, 2014 / Articles We Like / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Leadership

On “Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders”

To successfully innovate, companies need strong leaders. As executive leadership coaches, our work with clients in Silicon Valley is inherently tied to helping companies achieve their innovation goals, and that’s why this article resonates with us.

The Harvard Business Review article, Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Falkman, reveals the 10 behaviors innovative leaders consistently demonstrate that make them effective at driving innovation.  We contend that these behaviors are not only key innovative leadership behaviors, but core skills to hone for effective leadership overall.  Read the article now.

Do you agree with this list of behaviors? Why or why not?

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June 26, 2014 / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | My Performance > My Confidence

Ed asks: I’m a senior executive with a track record of high performance.  My performance levels have led to interesting career growth opportunities as well as increasing amounts of responsibility over the years.  Given all I’ve achieved, my peers and colleagues believe I have a high level of confidence.  But, the truth is, I don’t feel that way inside. I wish I felt as confident as my performance indicates it is. What steps can I take to work on closing this gap?

Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Your confidence levels have not become a barrier to performance.  However it will take some work to unwind the stories you’ve been telling yourself over the years about your limitations.  One way to start working on this is to recognize when your internal narrative is at play.  When you are in situations when you are feeling unsure, what are you thinking?  How does your body feel?  Begin to notice what transpires in these moments, and write them down.  Once you’ve identified your internal narrative, you can work on interrupting these habitual responses with more positive experiences.  Reflect on prior successes when you’ve overcome similar feelings and have pushed through to positive outcomes.  You can also try positive affirmations to change the narrative in these moments, as well as any meditation or mindfulness technique to get centered.

Somatic work might also help you embody your own leadership.  Work on getting more into your body to feel and experience your own strength.  Practice several ways you might walk into a room, perhaps to give a presentation.  Observe the sensations in your body and where you feel them. Notice your posture.  What feels good to you?  Meditation or mindfulness practices can help with this as well.  Practice tightening and relaxing your body while you sit with your eyes closes and notice what you feel.  The idea is to consciously embody the strength that resides within.

You might also want to watch Amy Cuddy’s 10-minute TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. In this talk, you’ll learn how standing in a confident stance even when you’re not feeling confident can impact success.

Good luck!

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March 27, 2014 / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | Overworked and Undervalued

Erica asks: I am currently performing job duties that are a step up from my job classification and working roughly 50 hours overtime!  Internal hiring for this advanced position has been delayed for 6 months.  Since I am already doing the work for this position and getting paid at a lower classification, I feel as if I am being taken advantage of.  I want to approach management about this, but not sure how.  What do you suggest I do?

Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa, responds:

Hi Erica,

Thanks for your question – it’s a good one! And not uncommon. I strongly suggest you talk to your manager about the situation and work together to identify a solution. Here are some specifics for preparing for and handling the conversation:

  • Get really clear about your intended outcomes before having any conversations with management. Do you want to be considered for the higher position? Are you okay with the temporary workload if you are paid appropriately? Do you not want to perform these extra job duties at all?
  • Once you are clear on your intended outcomes, brainstorm (by yourself) some ideas about how you and your manager can meet your needs and the business needs. Promote you and then back-fill your position? Hire a contractor for 6 months? Share the workload with a few other people? Cut back on some specific deliverables for 6 months?
  • Reach out to your manager and ask for a meeting to work together on a plan for handling business needs while the team is lacking a person in the position.
  • Stay positive, constructive and solution-oriented while being firm about what you are and are not willing to do.

I’m sure you are tired from all the work, so my final suggestion would be to get some rest and downtime before you do this thinking and before you have this conversation. You will be much better able to think clearly and manage your emotions.

Good luck!

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February 18, 2014 / Coaching Skills / Leadership

The Introvert CEO

Michael asks: I was just named CEO of a small software startup company. I have a fairly introverted personality and realize this new role will require me to move more out of my comfort zone. Any tips?

Therese Tong, PCC, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Congrats!

Let’s start with a few assumptions around how your introversion might be showing up:

  • Telling yourself you cannot handle certain situations or leadership roles as well as an extrovert
  • Wanting to say something but not finding the words in the moment
  • Feeling that you need to be more at ease with all the networking and external conversations that come with being CEO

Reasons For and Motivation
Remember the reasons that motivated you to take this role. To make a bigger impact in the company’s success? In the industry? In people’s lives? Every time you catch yourself hesitating or worrying about stepping ‘out of my comfort zone’ – shift your thinking from ‘my comfort zone’ to these motivations and to the ‘others’ involved. See your desired outcome and take the step.

What you are doing here is observing your interpretation [thinking, head] about an action, retraining your mind to focus differently and also getting in touch with the motivation [feeling, heart] that propels action [will, body].

Use the Gifts of Introverts
As an introvert, you have insight and have thought through issues with clarity and depth. Perhaps you are not as gregarious as the extrovert in selling your idea but you care about others and have great support with close friends and colleagues. From this foundation of insight and care, give voice to your thoughts and what you believe can happen. You can also use your gift of curiosity – when struggling for something to say in a social situation, just get curious and ask a question.

Return to Now
In a room full of too many people – imagine yourself talking to one person in the room, feel the connection you have with this one person; gently and slowly include two, three, four … other people in your dialogue. If you notice any discomfort or anxiety arising, take a deep breath, wiggle your toes. Return to the here and now – your body and the one person you want to share this idea with. Returning to the sense you have in your body, for example, your breath or wiggling your toes can be practiced anytime, especially when stepping out of your comfort zone.

Set Expectations and Allow Quiet Time
As CEO you will have a schedule full of conversations, big and small. For your sanity, you will need to protect adequate quiet time to decompress and reflect. Be clear with your administrative assistant, your direct reports and/or family at home that you must carve out alone time in order to thrive.

Give the above a try and let us know how it has helped you be more courageous to step into some different actions.

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