Articles & insights from Mariposa coaches

September 28, 2015 / Book Reviews

Book Review | The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan

51F3dWKdgyL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan
By George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, Jorge E. Pedraza

Head: (5 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Studies have shown 40% of newly hired senior executives fail within the first 18 months on the job. Given the costs of hiring and the impact leadership failure can have on revenue, employee productivity and moral, this is an expensive reality for any company.

As consultants who help executives move into complex new leadership roles, the authors of this book understand how to stack the odds in favor of a new executive: implement a comprehensive onboarding plan for the first 100 days. The content of this book is based on their proven onboarding process, which includes:

  • Identifying the seven deadly onboarding landmines that can derail new executives
  • Identifying and managing risk
  • Choosing the right approach for existing company culture
  • Crafting and communicating a central message
  • Creating and imbedding a Burning Imperative
  • Establishing early wins

The tools, checklists, examples and sage advice based on extensive experience will help you take charge of your own onboarding plan, so you can hit the ground running, send the right message, build a high-performing team and deliver results.

This is a practical handbook no aspiring or current executive should be without. Organizations interested in setting their new leaders up for success, and leaders interested in new opportunities or taking charge of their own onboarding plan will want to read this book. Buy it now.

September 10, 2015 / Articles We Like / HR / Talent Management

On “How to use culture interviews to build a better team”

Hiring can be a risky process for all companies. Good hires contribute positively to company goals and company culture, but bad hires are costly and disruptive to team dynamics. For startups, finding potential employees with the right mix of experience, skills and culture fit is becoming the norm. Company culture is a key determinant of startup success or failure, so many are placing an emphasis on culture in the interview process. This is one approach we think many companies will benefit from knowing about, as the process does more than uncover the person behind the resume  – it can contribute to trust and employee engagement as well.

In the article, “How to use culture interviews to build a better team”, by Sharon Florentine, learn how some companies go beyond behavioral interviewing to emphasize company culture in their interview process. The article outlines tips as well as pitfalls.

What techniques do you use to assess cultural fit of potential employees?

August 21, 2015 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It

Stand Out Book CoverStand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It
By Dorie Clark

Head: (4 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (4 out of 5)

Some people go to work each day with an innate desire to be known for their ideas and expertise and to make a difference in the world, but lack the courage to speak up. Instead, they hope their good work will speak for itself and be noticed by others. But the workplace today is filled with noise – from work pressures to social media distractions – and being passive about your professional reputation can actually hurt your career. Setting yourself apart in the workplace today is critical.

To many, developing their own thought leadership feels like a daunting task, and the term “thought leader” sometimes seems like a status reserved for geniuses. But this book, by Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant, recognized “branding expert” and thought leader, offers essential insights to get you started because the truth is anyone can have a big idea.

The content in this book will help you:

  • Understand various methods you can use to identify your own breakthrough idea
  • Learn how to build a following around your idea
  • Understand the logistics of making thought leadership happen
  • Explore ways to make a living while building your reputation

Dorie taps into the wisdom gained from her own experience building her reputation as a thought leader and shares insights from interviews with other recognized experts in a range of industries.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking for more stability in their career will want to read this book. Buy it now.

July 31, 2015 / Articles We Like

On "Millennials Are Changing The Workplace"

The future of work is a hot topic of discussion among many leaders and HR professionals we know and work with. Millennials will soon make up more than 50% of the US workforce. Their unique experiences, perspectives and set of expectations are forcing changes in how work gets done in companies, how teams are managed, and other talent practices. With our focus on talent management this year, we think this article is a must-read because it highlights ideas to consider implementing in your talent management practices.

In the article, “Millennials Are Changing The Workplace: 3 ways they are altering your talent management initiatives,” the author, Tarik Taman, shares examples of changes companies have made to adapt to Millennials. From management practices to development opportunities and access to social media at work, read the article to learn more about how these shifts are working for all, not just Millennials.

/ Book Reviews

Book Review | Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

51JqFWSwmxL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
By Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright

Heart: (5 out of 5)
Head: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Human beings naturally form tribes, even within companies. Tribes are how work gets done. The relationship between tribes and their leaders lies at the heart of performance. Leaders who are successful at developing tribal culture are rewarded with recognition of the leader, tribe loyalty and high performance. It’s no surprise then that companies with successful tribal leaders tend to attract and retain top talent.

This book explains the five tribal stages and the culture of each, so that leaders can learn how to identify the stage of their tribes and take action to lead them through to the next level. Leverage points are included to help leaders unstick groups at each stage and coaching tips help them accomplish their goals.

Though backed by research into 24,000 people in 24 organizations, readers will not find a statistical read but a people book, with faces and stories showcasing principles backed by research and practical experience.

At a time in which many companies are engaged in a war for talent, developing the leadership ability to identify and up-level tribal culture for maximum productivity should be a strategic talent imperative. This is a unique business management book that leaders will want in their personal toolkit. Buy it now.

July 16, 2015 / Strategy / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

On June 25, 2015, Sue hosted Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning, the Chair of the Organizational Behavior department, and the founding director of “The Leadership Transition” executive education program at INSEAD. Herminia is the author of the new book, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader and was named a Thinkers50 most influential business guru. Herminia helped us understand the common traps that get in the way of stepping up to bigger leadership positions. She explained how change really works when we are attempting to grow professionally, and how applying the “outsight” principle reshapes our image of our selves, our jobs and our potential.

Favorite Quote:
“Until you can feel it in your bones, it’s very hard to have thinking drive your behavior.”


  • The “outsight” principle means learning by going outside the norm. It’s an external perspective that you get from doing new things and experimenting, by interacting with new people, going outside your past experience, outside your usual network of contacts and getting a more external perspective to open your eyes to a different reality.
  • Traditional leadership development methods tend to emphasize learning through introspection, which is the opposite of the outsight principle. Sue inquired about this juxtaposition. While there is a place for introspection in developing leaders, Herminia’s research showed that behavior that drives attitudes and thought processes as opposed to other way around, particularly when the end state is unclear. When transitioning from A to B, and B as the end state is known, it’s easier to plan the steps to get to B. But when the end state is unknown or murky, all the thinking in the world is theory and likely to not match reality. When transitioning to a leadership role for the first time, Herminia explains the only way to aspire to that goal in a way that’s motivating, is to get closer to it through experimentation. Only then will you have fresh material for reflection afterwards.
  • To gain outsight, Herminia suggested three areas for aspiring leaders to create some experiments: redefining your job, extending your network away from the usual suspects, and being more playful with yourself. Getting started with experiments in these three areas, especially with job activities and network building, will help you gain positive momentum. The people you meet along the way make a huge difference because they become kindred spirits or people who can guide you or you can bounce ideas off of because they are going through something similar. The more time spent thinking about it and conceptualizing this concept, the slower the learnings will come. But those who take action even if they aren’t sure where they are going, or because it feels unnatural, will learn more quickly.

What we found most interesting:
As people try to step up to leadership, they sometimes experience the authenticity trap. Things that don’t feel comfortable for people tend to feel inauthentic. But Herminia explained authenticity can be a defense against learning and a defense against getting out of your comfort zone. Authenticity can be defined in a number of ways, but when people hide behind it they tend to mean, “being as I’ve always been.” Which is not great, because you can be authentic and change a lot. She says, “The way you actually become really authentic is by changing and adapting and by doing so, mean you remain true to yourself in an evolving way…we all want to be ourselves at work but we want to be ourselves in a way that takes into account growth and evolution.”

To learn more about Herminia’s experience, listen to the Wise Talk recording.

June 30, 2015 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work

millennials managementMillennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work
By Lee Caraher

Head: (4 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Most companies today have a multigenerational workforce made up of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. This will be true for some years to come. Instead of retiring, many Baby Boomers need to work longer than previous generations due to the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Meanwhile, Millennials will continue to make up a substantial portion of the workforce – an estimated 46% of it by 2020 – thus, squeezing Generation X in the middle. Each of these generations has a unique perspective of work standards and career expectations, which has led to tension and frustration in the workplace, especially for managers of Millennials. The author believes it’s time to close the growing gap between these perspectives or your company may cease to exist.

This book, written by Lee Caraher, communications firm owner and an advisor to clients on how to work with, communicate with and market to Millennials, offers insights based on experience with her clients and associates as well as surveys with hundreds of people to help bridge the gap in understanding these different generations.  In an easy-to-read format peppered with quotes and short stories, she brings to life the perspectives each generation has of the other, dispels myths and offers techniques to create smoother-running and a more positive workplace for all.

Baby Boomer and Generation X leaders, as well as Millennials, will all want to read this book.

Buy it now.

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?

May 29, 2015 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here Are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero”

Are you solving the right problem for your customers? The most strategic leaders we know understand the importance of surfacing their customers’ core issues, and offering the right solutions to address them. That’s why we share this article on a technique practiced by IDEO:  question zero.

Leaders can use the question zero technique to understand what the problem is, why it is the problem, and how you can mobilize resources to solve it. Check out the Fast Company article, written by Ana Andjelic, SVP, Global Strategy Director at Havas LuxHub, Are You Solving the Right Business Problem? Here are 5 Ways to Get to Your Question Zero, for tips on using question zero to get closer to the essence of the core challenge your customers face.

What other strategic thinking techniques do you use to get to your customers’ core issues?

/ Book Reviews

Book Review | Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

actlikealeaderAct Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader
By Herminia Ibarra

Head: (3 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

At the root of many traditional leadership development methods lie self-awareness and the promise of change through reflection and introspection. This inside-out model can be helpful in identifying your leadership style, defining your purpose and authentic self. But according to the author, these methods fall short of changing the deep-seated ways of thinking which keep us from behaving differently. A new approach is needed: the outsight principle.

The outsight principle is fairly easy to understand: Branch out beyond your routine work, your networks, and current ways of defining yourself, and by doing so, these new ways of acting will begin to change how you think about your work and yourself, and expand your leadership horizons. Instead of thinking about how you will behave as a leader, new behaviors will emerge organically by experimenting with the unfamiliar and interacting with different people. This approach allows us to challenge existing notions of our capacity to lead.

This easy-to-read book offers interesting insight on how change really works. The information is backed by research, exercises and case studies to help readers understand and apply the outsight principle and bridge the gap between where they are today and where they could be. Leaders interested in new ways of thinking about developing their talent, and professionals who want extra motivation to step up to lead will want to read this book.  Buy it now.

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