July 25, 2013 / Blog / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Wise Talk

July 2013 Wise Talk Recap with Sue


Click here to listen to and download the full audio recording of July’s Wise Talk with NY Times bestselling author Kevin Kruse (@kruse) and Mariposa CEO @suebethanis!  Kevin’s practical advice and insights will help you get started on building and executing an employee engagement plan.

May 10, 2013 / Blog / Coaching Skills / Influencing Skills

The Power of Matching

200021828-001In his book To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink writes about the importance of attunement as part of selling, whether the selling is formal (actual sales) or less formal (influence and persuasion). One approach to attunement is matching. By subtly matching body language, tone of voice and choice of words, you can create greater attunement and more trust with people you talk to. Dan points out—and there is research behind this—that people’s mannerisms automatically attune when they feel connected to each other.

If you watch friends talking over coffee, you’ll see similar movements happening at the same time. Similarly, studies have shown that if one person at a table reaches for a glass of water, it’s more likely that someone else will also reach for a glass of water—if not at the same moment, then soon after. We match each other because we are social animals, and it’s one of the ways that we stay in sync, that we feel safe and connected.

I often talk to clients about matching to build trust and communicate more effectively with diverse stakeholders. You can match in three main ways:

1.  Body language.

2.  Vocal inflection.

3.  Word choice.

Read More on Eric’s Blog

Matching is also a powerful part of Mariposa’s In-The-Moment Coaching model. For more on this model, visit our ITM Workshop and read our article on ITM Coaching in Action.

About the author:

Eric Nitzberg, is the Principal of Sierra Leadership and an Executive Leadership Coach for Mariposa Leadership, Inc.

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

Ask Mariposa: Top 4 Executive Coaching Focus Areas


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.

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

Ask Mariposa: Balancing Team Dynamics


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.

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

Ask Mariposa: Coaching vs. Therapy



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”.


March 21, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management

Ask Mariposa: Criteria for Coach Selection


John asks:  I’m thinking about working with an Executive Coach.  What criteria should I use to select the right coach for me?

Susan Bethanis, CEO of Mariposa responded:

No doubt, executive coaching is a powerful process for overcoming barriers to achieving your personal and organizational goals.  The process is cumulative and builds over time through cycles of appreciation, observation, feedback, option generation, practice, problem solving and action.  Developing rapport with your coach is important to the coaching process so selecting for chemistry, in addition to background experience, is key.

Your coach should both challenge and support you.  As you interview a potential coach, consider the following:

  • Is the coach creating a safe and confidential environment for me?  Can I trust this person?
  • Does he/she understand the issues?  Is he/she credible?
  • Is his/her approach sound?  How will my progress be measured?
  • Is his/her communication style compatible with mine?

Besides chemistry, also consider relevant industry knowledge, client successes, prior corporate experience, and education and certifications as they relate to your coaching goals.  You’ll discover each coach offers a unique perspective based on the sum of their experiences, and this experience contributes significantly to the coaching process.

For additional perspectives on preparing for executive coaching, read the Mariposa article, When Bad Coaches Happen to Good People, and HBR’s blog post, Before Working with A Coach, Challenge Your Self-Assumptions.

February 21, 2013 / Articles We Like / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Strategy

How to Create a Memorable Employee Recognition Program

employee-appreciation-day-263x400Good business practice involves appreciating and recognizing your employees. Although appreciation should be a natural activity for anyone, the truth is we all have different ways of giving and receiving gifts and appreciation. Some like verbal appreciation, while others like having an extra vacation day. Either way, employes want personal recognition, instead of a standard gift for all. So if you’re not careful, a thoughtless gift may actually backfire on you.

OC Tanner recently commissioned a study conducted by The Cicero Group entitled Optimizing Employee Recognition Programs. This study aimed to discover if awards are a viable form of employee recognition, and if so, whether cash works better than award items.

If your organization is looking to implement an effective employee reward system, I highly recommend reading this entire study as the six pages highlight some interesting findings. The statistics can come in handy when rationalizing employee reward programs to upper management.

The key takeaways for employee recognition programs are:

  • Award items are better than cash bonuses at contributing to the recognition experience.
  • Award items should be geared toward desire versus need. If cash is given, it will likely be spent on “need” items, such as bills. Therefore employees will likely forget about the recognition much faster than a more personalized award.
  • Though you may be rewarding employees with a tangible reward, verbal expressions of appreciation further augment and reinforce recognition and can “increase the degree of effectiveness by roughly 50 percent”.
  • Create a “tailored selection” of reward items that are unique and personal. This tells the employee that you took the time to offer something of value.

About the author:

Anne Loehr is the President of Anne Loehr and Associates, co-founder of Safaris for the Soul, and an Executive Leadership Coach for Mariposa Leadership, Inc. For more good reads, visit Anne Loehr’s personal blog at: www.anneloehr.com/blog/.

February 19, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management

Ask Mariposa: Team Listening Skills


Drew asked:

The CFO of our company is technically fantastic at her job, yet I am hearing from her team that morale is down because she is not that open minded and doesn’t listen well. What are some things she can do?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:


It’s great that your CFO has the technical component of the job down.  Next, she needs to understand that the leadership components of her role are equally important. This is a common challenge for many who come to a leadership role through their technical expertise.  Daniel Goleman, famous for his research in emotional intelligence, has identified that emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership (refer to HBR, “What Makes A Leader”, Daniel Goleman, November-December 1998).  He has identified five components for emotional intelligence for effective leaders:  self-awareness, self-regulation,  motivation, empathy, and social skills. It sounds like your CFO could benefit from developing the capacity to show more empathy and build more rapport (social skills) with her people through active listening.

Your coaching of her will be key to her continued growth as a leader. Specifically, first give her straight and compassionate feedback. Appreciate the value of her technical expertise to the business. Second, explain her next opportunity for growth is as a leader of her team. As part of this, she will need to spend more team listening to her team in a way that they feel heard and appreciated. “Expert” executives often feel that their job is to have all the answers. You will need to coach her that her job as a leader is broader than that. It begins by having an engaged and empowered team.  The first step in that process is listening to the team, building rapport, and only then, will she be able to motivate them towards a common goal. Through your coaching, you will be increasing her self-awareness as you help her to develop the leadership part of her role.

This is a great opportunity for the two of you to work together to enhance her contributions to the overall business and become an more effective leader.

For more resources on developing leadership skills, refer to previous Ask Mariposa blogs.

January 10, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Strategy

Ask Mariposa: How to Be More Strategic

Ask Mariposa

Anne-Lise asked:

I’ve received feedback that I need to be more strategic but I’m not sure how to even begin working on this. Help?

Tawny Lees, COO responded:

Hi Anne-Lise,

First off, please know that you are not alone in getting this feedback and feeling a bit lost! This is a common growth edge for many leaders, especially those who have had more execution-focused roles and are now becoming more senior in their organizations.

Being “more strategic” is a combination of developing a new mindset as well as behaviors. Strategic thinkers take a broad, longer-range approach to problem solving and anticipating the future. They think systemically – identifying the implications of their decisions on other parts of the organization, customers, partners, etc. Strategic leaders also embed strategic behaviors into their routine – taking regular time alone and with team members to think ahead, ask tough questions, review the competitive environment, ponder the future, and plan.

I’d suggest looking at articles and/or books on both strategic thinking and the process of strategic planning to see what resonates with you. From those resources, pick a couple of things to try, and enlist the help of your boss or a colleague to support you with feedback and accountability. Our Mariposa Leadership theme this year is strategy, so you can also sign up to listen in on the free monthly Wise Talk teleconferences for added insight. You could also identify someone in your org whom you feel is very strategic and pay close attention to how they think and operate. Perhaps ask for some mentoring from them.

Developing in this area is a journey – glad you are embarking, it is critical to great leadership!

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

December 18, 2012 / Articles We Like / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills / Recommended Reading

Ask Mariposa: Need Resources to Become a Better Leader?

Jude asked:

What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

Eric Nitzberg, M.T.S., Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

I would recommend starting with your coworkers, and even friends and family members. The best leaders frequently ask for feedback from the people around them about how how they can become more effective. People who work with you have opinions about your strengths and development areas as a leader, but most won’t share those with you unless you ask them. Also, you have to ask repeatedly over time, and thank them for their feedback, even if you don’t agree with it. That way you will develop an environment where it’s safe to ask for and give feedback.

As for more formal resources, some of my favorites are The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes & Posner, Your Brain at Work by David Rock, and anything on Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I also love the Harvard Business Review.

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

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