December 15, 2016 / Articles We Like / Leadership / Strategy

On “What Great Managers Do Daily”

We’ve all read the numerous articles highlighting the must-have qualities of an effective manager. Beyond the personal traits – what is it exactly that makes a manager great on a day-to-day basis?

Inspired by a Gallup study that found that about 70% of people in management roles are not well equipped for the job, Ryan Fuller and Nina Shikaloff’s recent Harvard Business Review article “What Great Managers Do Daily,” highlights employee engagement results from two Fortune 500 companies. Their conclusion is that most companies understand the importance of having highly effective managers, but few understand how to make them more effective. This article provides five key findings about what makes great managers different than the rest.

What do you think about their results and recommendations?

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April 2, 2015 / Leadership / Mariposa Articles

The Communication Toolbox

We all grow up with our own unique communication style. Some people by nature are very direct. They come right to the point. They tell it like it is. They don’t mince words. Other people are more diplomatic, more indirect, more subtle in their communication. Indeed, there are a variety of communication styles—quiet, loud, forceful, caring, showy, authentic, and many more.

One metaphor I have found helpful in working with leaders to develop their communication skills is what I call “The Communication Toolbox.” The idea is that we each have a communication style that is most natural and comfortable for us.  Usually, it’s a style we began to develop early in our lives or careers, and that somehow has served us well.  But no one communication style is going to be right for all situations, and leaders encounter a tremendous diversity of people and contexts.  Part of being a well-rounded leader means having more than just one tool.  The further up you go in an organization, the more important it is to have a broader set of tools in your communication toolbox.To read the entire article, visit the Sierra Leadership blog.

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December 22, 2014 / Articles We Like / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Leadership

On “Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders”

To successfully innovate, companies need strong leaders. As executive leadership coaches, our work with clients in Silicon Valley is inherently tied to helping companies achieve their innovation goals, and that’s why this article resonates with us.

The Harvard Business Review article, Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Falkman, reveals the 10 behaviors innovative leaders consistently demonstrate that make them effective at driving innovation.  We contend that these behaviors are not only key innovative leadership behaviors, but core skills to hone for effective leadership overall.  Read the article now.

Do you agree with this list of behaviors? Why or why not?

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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?

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July 3, 2014 / Coaching Skills

The Art of Receiving Feedback

Recently I wrote about the importance of giving feedback to your direct reports and others—openly, candidly and in a way that’s actionable for them. I think 50% of the feedback equation rests on the side of managers, who have to be willing and skilled in giving it.  Today I want to share a few tips on the other 50% of the equation: how to ask for and receive feedback.  How you receive feedback helps set the tone for your whole team.

  • Ask for feedback more than once a year
  • Listen to the feedback with everything you’ve got
  • Clarify the feedback
  • Say thank you

To read more, visit the Sierra Leadership blog.

 

About the Author:

Eric Nitzberg, M.T.S., is the Principal of Sierra Leadership and an Executive Leadership Coach at Mariposa Leadership, Inc. Visit his blog.

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June 26, 2014 / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | My Performance > My Confidence

Ed asks: I’m a senior executive with a track record of high performance.  My performance levels have led to interesting career growth opportunities as well as increasing amounts of responsibility over the years.  Given all I’ve achieved, my peers and colleagues believe I have a high level of confidence.  But, the truth is, I don’t feel that way inside. I wish I felt as confident as my performance indicates it is. What steps can I take to work on closing this gap?

Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Your confidence levels have not become a barrier to performance.  However it will take some work to unwind the stories you’ve been telling yourself over the years about your limitations.  One way to start working on this is to recognize when your internal narrative is at play.  When you are in situations when you are feeling unsure, what are you thinking?  How does your body feel?  Begin to notice what transpires in these moments, and write them down.  Once you’ve identified your internal narrative, you can work on interrupting these habitual responses with more positive experiences.  Reflect on prior successes when you’ve overcome similar feelings and have pushed through to positive outcomes.  You can also try positive affirmations to change the narrative in these moments, as well as any meditation or mindfulness technique to get centered.

Somatic work might also help you embody your own leadership.  Work on getting more into your body to feel and experience your own strength.  Practice several ways you might walk into a room, perhaps to give a presentation.  Observe the sensations in your body and where you feel them. Notice your posture.  What feels good to you?  Meditation or mindfulness practices can help with this as well.  Practice tightening and relaxing your body while you sit with your eyes closes and notice what you feel.  The idea is to consciously embody the strength that resides within.

You might also want to watch Amy Cuddy’s 10-minute TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. In this talk, you’ll learn how standing in a confident stance even when you’re not feeling confident can impact success.

Good luck!

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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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February 8, 2014 / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Strength During Stress

Most executives have some periods of intense, unrelenting stress.  This can happen for example during a time the team is rapidly growing in numbers; during a mission-critical project where the stakes are very high; or during a time of crisis such as a major HR or legal issue.

At such times it’s a good idea to get back to basics, and remember that your body and brain are the only real tools you have for success.  These simple rules will help you to function at your best when times get tough:

  1. Exercise, even if it’s just “walking meetings.”
  2. Eat healthy, even if someone else has to get your food.
  3. Buy a water bottle you really like.
  4. Improve your sleep and break-taking hygiene.

For more on these 4 simple rules, read the full blog post here.

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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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September 5, 2013 / Coaching Skills

Learn the Skills of “Assess” for Effective Leadership Team Development

Developing your leadership team is best done through effective and frequent coaching. We recently shared two ways rapport benefits leadership team development through coaching.  And establishing rapport is the critical first step in our In-The-Moment Coaching model.   So what happens next?

Understand the problem that needs solving.  This occurs in the “Assess” step in our In-The-Moment (ITM) Coaching model.  Here are three reasons leaders who learn the skills of Assess are highly effective at leadership team development through ITM Coaching.

  • They understand they aren’t on point to solve the problem.  Assess is exploring another person’s perspective on a situation in order to understand the current frame and uncovering the most important problem that needs solving right now.  Once it’s uncovered, the leader’s job is to help him/her arrive at a solution to address it.  This is “teaching others to fish,” which boosts the level of motivation, accountability, and engagement in taking action.
  • They open up thinking with strategic questions.  The key to successfully assess is through the use of open-ended questions.  Leaders who allow open-ended questions to emerge from a place of curiosity rather than a defined set of questions receive more information that helps them set the problem.
  • They pick up on nuances by staying present.  In Assess, the leader’s job is not only to ask questions and listen, but to notice how the situation is being described, the other person’s reaction to it and motivations.   Specifically, they are listening for specific word usage that implies constraints on thinking and views on others.  By staying present in the conversation, leaders are able to pick up on these cues, ask the right questions and quickly set the most important problem that needs solving.

Successful leadership team development through ITM Coaching relies on learning how to stay in Assess versus solving others’ problems for them. For more tips to help you do this and other how-to’s on ITM Coaching, download the free Executive Guide to In-The-Moment Coaching.

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