April 25, 2014 / Articles We Like

On: Beyond Customer Loyalty Programs – 7 Ways to Build Lasting Relationships

Are companies approaching customer loyalty in the wrong way? Article author, Mikkel Svane, founder and CEO of Zendesk, seems to think so.  Programs – like buy ten, get one free – make it difficult to discern if a customer is drawn to the free item, or is truly loyal to your product.  So what does it really take to drive loyalty?

In the Fast Company article, “Beyond Customer Loyalty Programs – 7 Ways to Build Lasting Relationships”, Mikkel contends establishing a human connection and developing empathy lies at the heart of customer loyalty.  He outlines seven fundamental principles companies should adopt, which are based on how relationships work and are built.

Read it now.

How does your company build lasting relationships with customers?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.


February 18, 2014 / Coaching Skills / Leadership

The Introvert CEO

Michael asks: I was just named CEO of a small software startup company. I have a fairly introverted personality and realize this new role will require me to move more out of my comfort zone. Any tips?

Therese Tong, PCC, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:


Let’s start with a few assumptions around how your introversion might be showing up:

  • Telling yourself you cannot handle certain situations or leadership roles as well as an extrovert
  • Wanting to say something but not finding the words in the moment
  • Feeling that you need to be more at ease with all the networking and external conversations that come with being CEO

Reasons For and Motivation
Remember the reasons that motivated you to take this role. To make a bigger impact in the company’s success? In the industry? In people’s lives? Every time you catch yourself hesitating or worrying about stepping ‘out of my comfort zone’ – shift your thinking from ‘my comfort zone’ to these motivations and to the ‘others’ involved. See your desired outcome and take the step.

What you are doing here is observing your interpretation

[thinking, head] about an action, retraining your mind to focus differently and also getting in touch with the motivation [feeling, heart] that propels action [will, body].

Use the Gifts of Introverts
As an introvert, you have insight and have thought through issues with clarity and depth. Perhaps you are not as gregarious as the extrovert in selling your idea but you care about others and have great support with close friends and colleagues. From this foundation of insight and care, give voice to your thoughts and what you believe can happen. You can also use your gift of curiosity – when struggling for something to say in a social situation, just get curious and ask a question.

Return to Now
In a room full of too many people – imagine yourself talking to one person in the room, feel the connection you have with this one person; gently and slowly include two, three, four … other people in your dialogue. If you notice any discomfort or anxiety arising, take a deep breath, wiggle your toes. Return to the here and now – your body and the one person you want to share this idea with. Returning to the sense you have in your body, for example, your breath or wiggling your toes can be practiced anytime, especially when stepping out of your comfort zone.

Set Expectations and Allow Quiet Time
As CEO you will have a schedule full of conversations, big and small. For your sanity, you will need to protect adequate quiet time to decompress and reflect. Be clear with your administrative assistant, your direct reports and/or family at home that you must carve out alone time in order to thrive.

Give the above a try and let us know how it has helped you be more courageous to step into some different actions.

August 12, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "The Entrepreneur's "Not Enough" Trap–And How To Avoid It"

This article by Dave Kashen resonates with us.  As executive coaches, we have access to some of the most brilliant minds and regardless of intelligence, the fear of not being enough is a universal part of the human condition.  It’s so powerful, it drives unconscious behavior in an attempt to overcompensate, leading to sometimes unintentional consequences.

In The Entrepreneur’s “Not Enough” Trap–And How To Avoid It, another perspective is offered on how we can channel fear towards more positive, conscious choices.  Read it to find practices to shift from a place of fear and lack to love and inspiration.

What do you do to work with fear in a positive manner?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

August 9, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Difficult Conversations

Erica asks: My department head is an extremely brilliant man and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.  But lately, I’ve noticed a shift in his behavior that is beginning to strain our working relationship.   He has become very irrational, negative, and all over the map with requests and demands.  What can I do to keep our relationship in tact without stepping over any boundaries?

Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

A lot depends on the level of trust an openness you have with him.  This is a delicate situation, so you’ll want to be thoughtful about any approach.  If you have a pretty open, high trust relationship you might broach the subject directly, “It seems like you have been a little on-edge lately.  I’ve noticed some changes in your leadership style.  Would you be open to talking?”   If you can’t address the issue directly, then I would consider which of the new behaviors are the biggest problem for you, and what you might do about them specifically.  If “requests all over the map” is the most frustrating issue, you might try having a neutral conversation with him about that issue, “I want to make sure I’m aligned with your priorities.  Can we talk about what’s most important among your requests?”

May 16, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Get the Most Out of Brainstorming as Part of the Design Thinking Process

breakthrough model copyFaced with a challenging business problem to solve?  You need an idea.  Not just one idea, but many useful ideas.  In our experience, leaders who think like designers by using a design thinking process for solving business problems generate more potential useful ideas than those who do not.

In our work, we take our clients through a design thinking process using our Breakthrough! model. This 4-step process helps leaders generate and execute innovative ideas because it blends practicality with imagination. Through the brainstorming step, it is possible to generate a vast number of ideas – if the session is set up properly.  To get the most out of your brainstorming session, consider these critical success factors:

  • Be clear about the specific problem upfront.  Clarity on the problem guides the brainstorming process.
  • Encourage imagination.  Unconstrained thinking is the backbone of innovation!
  • Break the large group into smaller groups. A large group format limits idea generation as well as lends itself to groupthink and creates a potential scenario in which one person might dominate while others remain silent.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  First individuals generate ideas alone on sticky notes. Then, in a small group format, the ideas are shared/posted aloud quickly without commentary.  Members are then challenged to add a large number of ideas in a limited period of time. With several small groups, the net is cast wide for maximum idea generation potential.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming as part of a design thinking process, culling the list of ideas, and other steps in the Breakthrough! model, download our Free Executive Guide to Design Thinking.

April 29, 2013 / Blog / HR / Talent Management

Five Lessons from a CEO on HR

hr-jigsawIn a unique turn of roles Les Hayman “retired” from a long tenure as a CEO to leading Global HR for SAP. In a recent guest blog post, Les summarizes five key lessons that he dubbed: “What I Wish I Knew as a CEO That I Learned Later in HR.”  The five lessons were:

1. Spend more time on making recruitment a core competency in the entire organization. I especially agree with his point that hiring for attitude is more important than hiring mainly for skills. The costs of weak hiring practices are enormous, and while HR should lead the way – it is every leader’s responsibility to be good at recruiting.

2. A large number of people who move into management are not comfortable when they get there and should be given the opportunity to move back out without being penalized, or better still, can stay in a professional role rather than being pushed into management. Les was surprised at the number of reluctant managers he came across, and advocates for valid vocational career paths for professionals. I agree with him wholeheartedly, AND I believe that sometimes these reluctant managers can become highly passionate and effective managers given the right coaching.

3. There are no such things as HR problems, only business problems that HR needs to help resolve. Couldn’t agree with this one more – HR leaders need to see themselves as business leaders before others will.

4. Spend more time on underperformers. While I agree with this, I also believe the right recruitment has to be in place first. And that the “move them up or move them out” approach does not have to be a lengthy, painful process.

5. Put less value on formal performance reviews and more on managing behavior as a moment by moment way of business life. Hallelujah on this one, and the ITM Coaching approach is a great skill for leaders to enable this moment-by-moment way of business life!


To check out the full article: http://seapointcenter.com/what-i-wish-i-knew-as-a-ceo-that-i-learned-later-in-hr/

To check out other writings by Les Hayman: http://leshayman.wordpress.com/

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 1, 2013 / Book Reviews / Strategy

Book Review: Reinventing You

ReinventingYou-Dorie-ClarkReinventing You:  Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
By: Dorie Clark

Head: (4.5 out of 5)
Heart: (3.5 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Professional branding is not just for the job seeker.  At some point, executives at all stages of their careers face the need to reinvent themselves to keep up with the pace of corporate change.  In Reinventing You:  Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, author and marketing expert Dorie Clark offers a strategic road map and do-it-yourself exercises for professional branding.

Both insightful and practical, this step-by-step guide is rich with advice anchored by case studies and anecdotal tips.  The exercises and reflection points help readers define their unique value and ultimately cultivate and communicate that value to others.  Readers will learn how to:

  • Understand the starting point
  • Research the destination
  • Test-drive the path to determine fit
  • Develop and refine skills for reinvention
  • Identify and engage a mentor
  • Leverage points of difference to stand out
  • Create a narrative that makes sense
  • Reintroduce the new brand
  • Concretely demonstrate expertise and prove worth
  • Monitor perception of the new brand

As the author notes, professional branding is taking control of life and living strategically, by defining career goals and taking steps to reach them.  The applicability of professional branding goes beyond simply landing a new job.  It can aid in breaking through misconceptions about capabilities which are preventing a promotion, transitioning to a different area of a company and building a compelling case for an unusual background as an asset in a career change.

In an age in which competition for jobs is fierce and one cannot simply rely on being noticed because of hard work, staying relevant and competitive through reinvention is important to fit into the new context of work.  Buy the book.

March 14, 2013 / Blog / HR / Talent Management

Managing Up: Stepping Into Your Boss’s Shoes


One of the most potentially challenging communication situations is the one between manager and employee. Different perspectives can emerge due to hierarchy, accountability, and unclear expectations. Sometimes the key to finding common ground between you and your manager is to change your perspective – to step in your boss’s shoes.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if…

  • you had to always keep the whole team in mind?
  • you needed to think about the budget more carefully?
  • you had to think about managing your boss’s boss?
  • you were to remain sensitive to larger internal and external factors impacting decisions?
  • you were the person who takes the hit if things go wrong?

What would you do differently in how you manage up with this new point of view?

Now take off your boss’s shoes and step back into your own. How can you be a more effective partner with your boss? Effective communication starts with a step back and then strides forward. The better you can relate to the conditions you and your boss face, the more successful the outcomes will be for your boss, for you, and for the team.

About the author:

Patrick Reilly, M.S., is the President Resources In Action, Inc. and an Executive Leadership Coach for Mariposa Leadership, Inc. For more interesting articles and blogs by Patrick, visit www.resourcesinaction.com.

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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