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

Ask Mariposa: Team Listening Skills

ask-mariposa1

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:

Drew,

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.

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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: http://blog.mariposaleadership.com/ask-mariposa/

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November 20, 2012 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management / Influencing Skills

Ask Mariposa: Understanding the Culture of Your New Org

Will asked:

How can I help a new employee understand the culture of our organization?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

The first step is to be able to verbally describe the culture of the organization. We all intuitively know the culture of the organizations in which we live, but it can be challenging to articulate that knowledge and articulate how the organization demonstrates its beliefs, values, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviors.

Here are some questions to think about:
• What stories demonstrate the culture? Can you describe situations where individuals have gotten themselves in trouble by unintentionally violating cultural norms?
• What have successful employees done that demonstrate the company values and attitudes?
• If your company has articulated a set of values, what specifics behaviors demonstrate what those values really mean in terms of winning behaviors/successful performance?
• Where is the decision making power in the organization?
• How risk adverse/risk taking is the culture?
• Does communication flow hierarchically (formally) or democratically (informally) across, up and down the organization?
• In what ways and for what reasons do people really get recognized and rewarded?

It’s a good idea to ask multiple people for their input on describing the culture of the organization. You can also give your new employee the task of asking these questions to a list of others that you believe would be honest and open about the culture and who are also highly regarded across the organization.

Over time, continue to mentor your new employee on the cultural realities of your organization. As he or she gains experience in your organization, their contextual understanding of the cultural nuances will grow. Your coaching will help accelerate the integration of the new hire.

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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