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:

Congrats!

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.

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September 17, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Empower and Develop Your Team

Mary-Lou asks: I was just promoted to a senior director position. In order to get to know my direct reports better, I want to schedule 1-1 meetings with each of them. Can you offer some suggestions of  questions  I should ask them?

Anne Loehr, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

Congrats on your promotion Mary-Lou!

Since your job is to empower and develop the individuals on your team, scheduling 1-1 meetings is a perfect start. During this time, you want to get to know each other personally and professionally so you can establish a great working foundation and understand what motivates them to do their best. Here are some example questions that will achieve both. Stay truly curious and open, and as you ask questions and listen you want to be picking up on what’s important to them in the way they describe themselves and their team. Some sample questions, in no particular order:

  1. Tell me about yourself – your strengths, your learning edge, how you like to work.
  2. How do you get to leverage your strengths in your role today? What do you like most about it?
  3. What is your definition of success in this job?
  4. What’s life like outside of work? Activities? Interests?
  5. Tell me about your team – what’s going well and any current challenges.
  6. How can I support you to be working at your best?

Of course, you can share similar information about yourself as well – you don’t want the conversation to feel like an interview, and they are probably quite curious about you. Depending on how this meeting flows and how much time you have, you may be able to dive in to talk about specific business items, or set that up for a following conversation.

Let us know how it goes!

 

 

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August 30, 2013 / Coaching Skills

Two Ways Rapport Benefits Leadership Team Development

Want to get more from your leadership team? Then coaching effectively and often, especially with our In-The-Moment Coaching model, is an indispensable skill for you. Establishing rapport is a critical component to building relationships with others and it is a prerequisite for a successful coaching conversation.

Here are two ways rapport benefits coaching and thus leadership team development:

  • It creates trust and safetyRapport connects through “sameness” in language, tone and behavior, thus calming the mind.  Match your body language, voice quality, words and sense of urgency with that of another to establish this “sameness.” Strong differences in behaviors and speech can elicit a fight, flight or freeze response – not what you are looking for.  Instead, matching cultivates trust and safety so the mind is primed to explore ideas and solutions.
  • It requires your presence.  You have no shortage of distractions:  text messages, emails, people queuing up at your desk.  To further cultivate trust and safety, you must clear those distractions – such as silencing/closing your device or moving to a non-distracting locationin order to be fully present in the conversation.  Once established, maintain rapport in coaching (or any) conversations to maintain trust and safety, allowing the mind of your team member to open up to new possibilities.

Rapport is the critical first step you must master in a leadership team development skill like coaching.  For further tips on establishing rapport and other how-to’s on In-The-Moment Coaching, download the free Executive Guide to In-The-Moment Coaching

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August 29, 2013 / Articles We Like / Recommended Reading

On: "Research: What CEOs Really Want from Coaching"

We recommend this interview with the co-authors of a recent Stanford University/The Miles Group survey because of its key messages:  executive leadership coaching is a tool for improving already high performance and CEO’s want the support, but don’t always get it.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Research: What CEOs Really Want from Coaching, Gretchen Gavett digs into the findings with the survey authors. To learn about the business case for CEO coaching, the common needs/focus areas and other fascinating findings, read it now.

How is coaching viewed in your organization?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

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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.

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August 1, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Mariposa Articles

Leader as Designer

Learn how to utilize Design Thinking in your role as a leader.  This essay, Leader as Designer, by Mariposa Leadership CEO Sue Bethanis, opens up Design Thinking to different applications and audiences that goes beyond product development. She offers a clear 4 step process to easily move from idea-to-innovation. The results: successful services,  new experiences, and novel solutions to old problems.

Download

 

 

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

Ask Mariposa: Criteria for Coach Selection

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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.

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