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June 25, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Jamie asks: I’ve been northwest regional sales director of a national grocery store chain for the last ten years.  I just found out that there will be an opening for a new vice president of sales, and I want to apply. Because I’ve been a director for so long, I don’t think I’m being considered the position. What can I do to be considered as the best candidate?

Simma Lieberman, Executive Leadership Coach and Mariposa Strategic Partner responds:

You need to stop being seen as the  “perennial director,’ and be seen as a vice –president.

Now is the time to speak up and stand out from the crowd to make your presence known and garner the respect that you deserve.

Let your desired career path be known by the appropriate people. Tell your boss you have aspirations to continue climbing the corporate ladder.

Volunteer for projects on a national level where you can play a visible role and take leadership, where you can interact with people who are at your desired level and above. Meet with those people, tell them your ideas for the project, and get their feedback. CC them on all emails that document your progress.

Change your self-image form director to vice president.

 

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June 13, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Communication Barrier Tips

Janelle asks:  I’m experiencing communication barriers with my direct reports.  On two projects, I’ve asked them to take the lead on things but they’ve dropped the ball.  What tips can you offer to help with my communication?

Tawny Lees, COO responds:

How frustrating!  When making requests, many communication barriers can occur. When you reflect on these requests, were they posed in a direct manner, i.e.: “Will you?”, or indirect, such as “Can you please…?”  Indirect requests are not straightforward enough to solicit an immediate yes/no response.  Also make sure any request is very specific – you’d be amazed at how often they aren’t! Include:

  • Who:  will do the work
  • What:  specific action and/or result needed
  • When:  time frame
  • Why:  context/purpose

Then, make sure to listen for a true response, which should indicate a yes, no, an alternative proposal or a commitment to do it at a later time.

One final tip:  direct requests might sound strange at first, so we recommend practicing them.  Successful use comes from mastering your tone of voice, which should be firm and clear to prevent communication barriers.

For more information, we suggest:

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June 7, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: A Tough Transition: Stepping Up to Managing Peers

Talin asks: Since my promotion to a Sr. Director level, one of my former colleagues has refused to acknowledge that I am now her manager. This power struggle has been going on for two years. I am so frustrated that I have a hard time controlling my temper. At the same time, I’m acutely aware that my inability to work with this person has cast me in an unfavorable light with management. How do I solve this problem?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responds:

Hi Talin,

Tough and very common challenge!  The root cause of difficulty in stepping up to manage peers can certainly vary, but is often related to a team member feeling slighted that the peer was promoted instead of him or her, feeling that he or she can’t really “learn anything significant” from this peer, or feeling that the peer is not effective or qualified for the new bigger role. It sounds like you’ve been trying to improve this situation for some time. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Empathy: Have you truly put yourself in her shoes and given thought to what this experience was like? Tried to understand why she is resistant? Listened for her real objections?
  • Acknowledgment: Were you curious about and have you acknowledged her contributions, her expertise? Did you openly discuss the potential difficulty of this transition?
  • Leadership Style: How do you try to lead her? Are you directive, a pace-setter, hands-on, a coach, or?? A coaching approach would probably work best as long as she is very competent.  (See our ITM Coaching Model for more)
  • Impact: How significantly is this issue affecting you, the employee, the team, the company?

Here are some suggestions for actions to take:

  • Acknowledge the difficult relationship and its impact on all parties
  • Acknowledge your contribution to it
  • Ask if she is willing to work together to design a better working relationship because it is required for success – for both of you
  • and really LISTEN
  • Make clear working agreements

Good luck!

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June 7th, 2013|Categories: Ask Mariposa|
May 31, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Distracted Or Do I Need Listening Training?

James asks:  I’ve received feedback several times in the past that listening is one of my strengths.  However, a colleague recently suggested I attend listening training.  I have a lot going on at the moment, but is listening training the answer?

Tawny Lees, COO responds:

If you are like most of our clients, you face a great deal of pressure and demand on your time.  Perhaps you have taken on a new role or have been tasked with an important initiative. Without realizing it, you might be encountering moments of distraction that prevent you from being fully present and listening as well as you would normally. Before you pursue listening training, try these tips before your next meeting:

  • Become present.  Before your meetings, take 5-6 deep belly breaths. Take a moment to get clear on the focus areas for the discussion.
  • In the conversation, keep your focus on others as you listen. Try to match their pace, tone and energy.
  • Repeat back key words said to demonstrate you are listening.

These resources might also be helpful:

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May 21, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: How to Coach Someone Who Doesn’t Want to be Coached

Saul asks: How do you coach an employee that doesn’t want to be coached, but is part of his PDP obligation to be coached for 4 months?  What power suggestions or questions would you use in this situation to motivate behavior or start thinking about the pressure to change?

Tawny Lees, COO of Mariposa responds:

Hi Saul,

Tough situation! As a coach, you know that openness to the coaching process is a pre-requisite to it being effective. So hopefully you can enroll this employee before committing to the engagement!

I suggest you start with open questions and deep listening to truly understand the resistance. “Tell me about you…tell me about what’s going around here…tell me about this PDP plan…”

Often the resistance is fear of the unknown, and an assumption that the coach is working for “others” who have an agenda. Establish rapport and explain the coaching process/relationship (including confidentiality) using positive language like “you and I would focus on what’s most important and helpful for you” or “clients use me as an objective sounding board as they work on their goals and tackle tough problems.” Address any specific objections, questions or worries. Your objective would be to help the employee see that you are there to help him/her be successful. Period.

If/when you see an opening, you could try specific questions about goals and begin motivating. Here are some ideas:

  • “What are your toughest challenges right now?” “What would it be like if you were able to handle those with more ease?”
  • “I find most people like to continually grow and stretch themselves. Tell me about anything at which you are currently trying to get better?” “What benefits would come from getting better at ____ ?”
  • “What could we work on that would have a big impact on your career/work life?”

Good luck! Let us know if we can help further. More on rapport and assessment questions can be found in our ITM coaching model.

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May 8, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Ask Mariposa: A Design Thinking Approach Can Help Solve Problems

Michael asks:  We could use more creative thinking to solve a problem we’ve been working on. Could a design thinking approach help?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responds:

Thinking differently and coming up with new ideas for tough problems is at the core of design thinking.  Design thinking taps into imagination and practicality, which taken together form the backbone of creative problem-solving and innovation.

Our design thinking workshop is a working session for teams tasked with solving any product, service, or experience challenge.  The team is led through a clear design thinking process, which starts with empathy (something most groups skip) and includes brainstorming to generate and cull as many ideas as possible.  The ideas most likely to produce breakthrough solutions are prototyped using creative, 3-D methods utilizing right brain thinking.  Getting messy and creative cultivates new thinking!  The models can be used to test the ideas with others and refine with a more sophisticated prototype from there.

Once you grasp the principles of design thinking, you’ll see that they can be applied to any business problem.  To learn more, check out these resources:

 

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April 23, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills / Strategy

Ask Mariposa: Top 4 Executive Coaching Focus Areas

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Daniel asked: Can you share the most frequent areas that you help clients improve on with coaching?

Regan Bach, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Great question Daniel and you are not alone in wondering what actually occurs during a coaching engagement.  There is a great deal of customizing that occurs with each client’s needs, but here are the Top 4 most frequent areas of coaching focus:

1) Vision/Strategy/Execution

Whether it be for CEOs or new managers, setting a clear vision for yourself and your team is mission critical.  From there it’s all about articulating that vision to others, identifying an “actionable” strategy to execute on the vision, mitigating roadblocks, and tweaking the roadmap/trajectory given inputs over time.  A good coach helps leaders to a) get very clear on strengths and areas of opportunity to improve, b) articulate personal/team/company vision, and c) helps identify action steps to begin executing on a trajectory for success.

2) Going Slow to Go Fast

In today’s fast paced work environments, leaders jump from task to task, project to project, and initiative to initiative.  Rarely do they take time to slow down, unplug, assess the Big Picture, and reflect on what’s working, what’s not working, and what they want to do DIFFERENT moving forward.  Coaches act as a forcing function to help support leaders in unplugging, assessing themselves and their environments, and then identifying areas that need their attention.  What’s critical is helping today’s leaders not only identify where to show up, but also how to show up.

3) Influencing

This is an area where almost everyone can improve.  I have found that individuals, regardless of title, greatly underestimate (and thus under-utilize), their ability to influence others.  I spend a great deal of time working with clients to help identify effective and efficient ways to influence both vertically and horizontally throughout an organization.

4) Feedback, Communication and Relationship-Building

Organizations exist because humans create them.  Thus, many leaders continually struggle and are challenged by behavioral and/or human-centric issues.  At the core, business is all about communication and relationships.  Coaches help leaders create clear lines of communication, implement durable feedback loops into their work, and get clear on how and when they message things to others.

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April 10, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Balancing Team Dynamics

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Maggie asked:

My company isn’t lacking for talent, but we have a difficult time with team dynamics – how can we balance the strong personalities on our team?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responded:

Wow, big question, and lots of answers. Here’s one way to look at it:  Everyone has strengths, and the best leaders are able to leverage each person’s strengths (both their emotional intelligence and content knowledge/skills).  Check out the StrengthFinder 2.0 and take the assessment, and see what you think.  Then you can share this with your colleagues.

You may also want to check out one of our hands-on workshops that produce heightened awareness, appreciation, and new ideas to improve the way a team works: Leveraging Your Team’s Strengths.

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April 4, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: 3 Tips for Developing Leadership Influence

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Andrea asks: I am not in a formal position of power but lead several cross-functional projects and collaboration is critical to our goals.  How can I develop more leadership influence?

Susan Bethanis, CEO of Mariposa responded:

You are smart to be thinking about developing leadership influence skills, even as an informal leader.  Cross-functional initiatives, flatter management structures and virtual teams which sometimes include third parties have become the norm in business today.  Understanding how to influence others is a skill that when honed, serves company goals and your career.

Here are 3 tips:

  • Consult and Pre-Sell.   Meet with stakeholders to share your ideas on achieving a desired outcome.  Solicit their reactions and ideas as well.  By inviting input and balancing it with advocacy, resistance can be minimized while gaining buy-in.
  • Know Your Audience, Tailor the Message.   Develop clear and compelling messages rooted in short and long-term requirements.  Research your stakeholders’ needs and tailor the message based on their interests.
  • Establish Behavioral Rapport.  Match the pace and volume of your speech with that of your stakeholder.  Avoid matching negative emotional states.  Be conscious of your body language, including posture and facial expressions, as unintended non-verbal cues can undermine effective communication of your message.

Want more?

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March 27, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management

Ask Mariposa: Coaching vs. Therapy

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David asks: What’s the difference between coaching and therapy? 

 

Edie Heilman, Executive Leadership Coach,  responds:

This question comes up quite often because coaching and psychotherapy are both approaches to the challenges of life and work.  However the purpose and approaches are different.

Psychotherapy deals primarily with a person’s current or past difficulties to enable healing and resolve old pain.  The therapist is licensed, knowledgeable about psychological theories and is the expert in the relationship.  The therapist diagnoses then provides expertise to help improve the patient’s well-being. The process is often open-ended.

Coaching is forward looking with a focus on the client’s effectiveness and impact in their life, or their organization – as in with executive leadership coaching. Together the client and coach explore new ways of thinking, acting and solving problems.  The process includes assessment, feedback, goal setting and practice.  The coach provides tools and guidance to help the client self-observe, try new perspectives and behaviors and make choices that help them achieve their desired outcomes. A typical coaching engagement lasts six months with specific executive development objectives.

Patrick Williams says “therapy is about recovering and uncovering while coaching is about discovering”.

 

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