September 12, 2014 / Coaching Skills / Influencing Skills

“Can you help him have executive presence?”

execpreseAs coaches, we receive this request frequently.  And most often, when we ask our clients to describe what they mean, it’s clear that executive presence is one of the least defined leadership qualities.  We know what it looks like in action, but it can be hard to describe and the definition of executive presence can shift a bit from company to company, depending on the culture.  Yet, executive presence is a critical quality for successful leadership in any company.

In a previous post, we mentioned the importance of observing other leaders who are advancing and attempting to define what sets them apart from their accomplishments.  As a place to start, this helps put your company’s leader profile into focus, and from there you can begin to deduce the intangible leadership traits and behaviors that will make you more effective and fast track your success.  Likely, your observations will fall into one of these categories:

  • Confidence:  Confidence can be communicated via body language or the way you talk.  But it’s also about sharing your point of view, regardless of the audience.
  • Courage:  Leaders who have courage stand up for what they believe in, and take a well-measured risk to initiate and drive change.
  • Credibility:  Credibility is living up to commitments and walking the talk. It’s also about appearance and “looking the part.” (see leader profile comment above).
  • Connection:  Effective leaders achieve results through the strength of their relationships up, down and across the organization. By actively listening to their colleagues, they let them know they care and are supportive of their peers and direct reports.  Emotional intelligence plays a role in establishing connection with others, as does empathy.
  • Clarity/Crispness:   The ability to communicate complex information so it is easily understood by others is an important leadership quality.  Crispness is also about getting to the point quickly and avoiding unnecessary details unless asked.
  • Calmness:  During a crisis, who would you likely follow:  an even-keeled leader or one who emits panic and stress?  Calmness when in the midst of a storm communicates trust.

Try defining your company’s leader profile and then on a scale of 1 (low competence) – 7 (high competence) assess yourself in each category.  Then, create a plan.

What actions do you need to take to increase your Executive Presence?

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.

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

Ask Mariposa: 3 Tips for Developing Leadership Influence


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?

April 3, 2013 / Blog / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

The #1 Leadership Communication Mistake

I have come to the conclusion that there is one pretty universal communication mistake that is the most damaging and causes the most mischief for leaders.

Are you ready?  The mistake is:  not preparing well.  Yes, I know this is not very sexy, but it is incredibly ubiquitos.  People just don’t think about preparing in advance for a crucial conversation, and they typically don’t invest nearly enough time in preparing for a high-stakes presentation or Q & A session.

Think about it this way:  there are probably 5%, maybe 10% at the most, of your communications that are truly extremely important.  Situations where careers, or very large amounts of money are at stake.  My most frequent and important advice is, invest the time to prepare properly for these moments.  The more important the communication, the more time you should invest preparing for it.  More specifically:

  1. For a 1-1 meeting, decide what you will say in advance; and role play the conversation with a skilled communicator whom you trust.  Do the role play as if you were having the actual conversation–don’t just talk about what you plan to say.  Do it fully in role.  Then have them give you feedback, and role play it again.  Practice until you’ve got it down.  It will make for a better outcome, and will also greatly enhance your confidence level going into the conversation, because you have already done it!
  2. For an important Q & A session, write down the questions that you are mostly likely to be asked, and also the questions you most fear.  Then map out your answers, and practice them out loud, again with someone who can give you feedback.  Practice the same question and answer several times, until you really nail it, then move to the next question.  When you have them all, then practice answering a series of questions.
  3. For a presentation, deliver the whole presentation several times, also out loud.  Practicing it in your head is not the same as practicing it aloud, because you are not rehearsing the actual behavior you are preparing for.  And again, if possible, have someone in the room who can give you candid feedback.

About the author:

Eric Nitzberg, is the Principal of Sierra Leadership and an Executive Leadership Coach for Mariposa Leadership, Inc. Want to read more from Eric?  Visit his blog.

January 17, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Introvert vs. Extrovert

Ask Mariposa

Carrie asked:

My CEO is a major introvert; I’m a strong extrovert. I thought we could manage these differences but it’s becoming a wedge between us. What do you recommend?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responded:

Great question, Carrie. Here are a few points to consider:

· Typically, introverts need time to reflect. Whether you’re online, in person, in a meeting, or in a group, all parties should create a space for reflection; even if it’s just a 30 seconds for you and him/her to gather one’s thoughts.

· It’s really important that you pace your CEO. In terms of how you speak to him/her — how fast or slow, loud or soft -– matching their pace makes a big difference in terms of meeting them where they’re at. You may want to slow down or speed up but it’s important to think about matching.

· Another thing to note is that it’s really important to have a “process conversation” with your boss and find the best way to communicate with each other. When should you email each other? When is meeting better?

· Susan Cain is an author and speaker and a great resource for how to find the balance between introverts and extroverts. Here’s an inspiring TED talk from her I hope you will enjoy:

We welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

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:

December 11, 2012 / Articles We Like / Ask Mariposa / Blog / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Book Recommendations for Visionary Leaders

Ask Mariposa
Travis asked:

Can you recommend a book that describes what leaders do to make themselves visionary leaders, inspiring and enrolling others into a clear and compelling vision of the future?

Great question! Several of the Mariposa executive coaches wanted to offer recommendations.

Mariposa CEO, Sue Bethanis, Ed.D. says:
Good to Great by Jim Collins is probably the one that will hit closest to what you’re asking for. The Design of Business by Roger Martin is an alternative perspective. I would suggest you listen to the conversation I had with Roger on Wise Talk in May. Go to the Mariposa Wise Talk page and scroll down to 5/4/12.

Senior Leadership Coach, Ruben Perczek, Ph.D. suggests:
1. The Leadership Code by The RBL Group
2. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
3. The HBR article “Moments of Greatness” by Robert Quinn
4. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone and Benjamin Zander

Senior Leadership Coach, Dave Kashen, M.B.A. says:
I liked The Three Laws of Performance.

Both Senior Leadership Coaches, Eric Nitzberg, M.T.S. and Edie Heilman, M.B.A. suggest:
The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.

Hope this helps!

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here:

December 4, 2012 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Corporate Power Shifts

Harpreet asked:

Our company is going through a power shift where power is being transferred from the owner/founder of our company to our CEO and other top leaders. The owner’s inability to let go is creating problems – how do we start a conversation/solve this issue?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

This is often a challenging transition for any founder-lead organization. A lot of “the right answer” is situational. Is the founder being forced out by the board or is this a voluntary transition? Has the owner’s future role, if any, been defined?

You seem to imply that founder/owner will continue to remain involved in the company. Someone will need to start the conversation with the owner. Identify a trusted advisor or coach the CEO to take on the role of advisor himself. Let the owner describe their vision for what a successful transition looks like. The owner obviously has invested a lot into building this organization up to this point. If they will have a role after the transition is complete, it has to be clearly defined. It is important to honor their knowledge, experience and contributions, and define how they can continue to be informed and valued in their new role.

The CEO and his team will need to be patient and respectful yet clear in the communication of what the business needs are for the owner in this next phase of the company’s development. As in any difficult conversation, the CEO will need to listen and be empathetic of the founder’s perspective as well as be willing to have a compassionately honest conversation about what is critical for the business now.

Share your thoughts on this response in the comments section below, and ask us anything here:

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