November 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Leadership

On “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded”

There’s always more than one point of view. And now, in an ever-polarized world, it’s important to consider those that are not your own. According to John Brown, who was recently featured in the Fast Company article, “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded,” truly being open-minded is actually a counter-intuitive mental task that takes purposeful action.

So, what if our divergent values and ideas could provide for healthy dialogue and innovation instead of polarization?

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May 29, 2015 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

actlikealeaderAct Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader
By Herminia Ibarra

Head: (3 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

At the root of many traditional leadership development methods lie self-awareness and the promise of change through reflection and introspection. This inside-out model can be helpful in identifying your leadership style, defining your purpose and authentic self. But according to the author, these methods fall short of changing the deep-seated ways of thinking which keep us from behaving differently. A new approach is needed: the outsight principle.

The outsight principle is fairly easy to understand: Branch out beyond your routine work, your networks, and current ways of defining yourself, and by doing so, these new ways of acting will begin to change how you think about your work and yourself, and expand your leadership horizons. Instead of thinking about how you will behave as a leader, new behaviors will emerge organically by experimenting with the unfamiliar and interacting with different people. This approach allows us to challenge existing notions of our capacity to lead.

This easy-to-read book offers interesting insight on how change really works. The information is backed by research, exercises and case studies to help readers understand and apply the outsight principle and bridge the gap between where they are today and where they could be. Leaders interested in new ways of thinking about developing their talent, and professionals who want extra motivation to step up to lead will want to read this book.  Buy it now.

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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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February 19, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Capturing Rookie Smarts

To kick off our 2015 Talent Management theme, we invited Liz Wiseman to join Sue Bethanis as a guest on WiseTalk. Liz is a highly regarded leadership expert recognized by Thinkers50 and author of the new Wall Street Journal best seller Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. She is the President of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California.

Sue and Liz had a rich dialogue on the research and findings in her book Rookie Smarts. One of our biggest a-has from the conversation was about the value of the inexperienced. It could be said that those who are new to something for the first time can’t bring value, but we learned that this is essentially a myth. Those who are inexperienced operate from a “hungry state.” They lack expertise so look outward to a network of experts to get ideas and leverage their knowledge a project, much more so than experts.  We also learned in the tech world, where everything is changing so fast, the value of the experienced leader is in how fast he or she can learn, not what they know.

Favorite Quote:
“When I’m quick to say yes to something I don’t know how to do, I don’t need a personal development or learning plan that tells me to go work in certain ways that are against my nature, I’m just forced to do it.”

Insights:

  • Liz’s definition of a rookie is being new to something important and hard, regardless of age. Whether you’re 21 or 71, it’s doing something you haven’t done before. The value of a rookie doesn’t come from bringing fresh ideas. The value comes from bringing no ideas. When one comes in and has a gap in knowledge, it puts them in a predictable hungry state. They tend to point outward, ask more than talk, they lack expertise so seek it out in others. Liz mentioned an interesting data point: the inexperienced bring in 5x level of expertise on a problem then experts. The reason is because they lack expertise, so they point outward and ask for help. Rookies mobilize a network of expertise and bring it back to bear on a problem. When they ask others how they do something, they receive a diverse set of voices that they have to reconcile. The process of reconciling is when some of our best thinking is done and is why rookies get so smart in the space of relative ignorance.
  • In her research, Liz found that experience leads to success but rookies are surprisingly strong performers and in many cases outperform people with experience. Those cases are the knowledge industry, where work is innovative in nature and where speed matters. Why? Not because rookies are more skilled, but because they are more desperate. They have “no points on the board,” they are the new kid on the block, so work quickly to deliver quick wins and proof points to see if they’re on track. The most successful veterans and rookies operate in fundamentally different ways. When she looked at low performing cases, they failed in very similar ways.

Tips for capturing rookie smarts:

  1. Individuals: Liz suggests individuals try not to linger too long in a job that you’re qualified for. Say yes to things you don’t know how to do. When we keep putting ourselves out there in rookie situations, we are forced to ask questions and seek help, because we don’t know what we’re doing. She also suggests refreshing your assumptions by practicing “naive” questions, such as, what are we doing this for? Who is the real customer here? What happens if we don’t do anything? A fun exercise to audit our assumptions is to ask, what is it we believe to be true about this? Our work? Our customer base? List out the assumptions and see if you have evidence to support them or if you have evidence to the contrary. Also, swapping jobs with someone for a day will build empathy for what others do, as well as leave you with fresh ideas that can help you innovate.
  2. Feed a diet of challenge: In Liz’s research, she found, on average, it takes someone about three months to wrestle down a new challenge, and about three months after to be ready for the next one. The real practical way to keep you and/or your team rookie smart is to continue to feed yourself or your team a diet of challenge. Ask every three months, am I or is this person ready for a new challenge? Not more work, but harder work. Liz’s research also correlated satisfaction with challenge. As challenge goes up in a job, so does satisfaction and vice versa. If leaders want to drive satisfaction up on their teams, give them harder things to do.
  3. Power combinations: At team level, one suggestion Liz offered is for leaders to be deliberate about how power combinations are created. There is value in the way that both rookies and more experienced talent work. Partnering this talent is important, such as reverse mentoring and being clear about giving veteran leaders a chance to learn from rookies on their team. Try pairing a team of rookies anchored by expert, or put an empowered rookie on a team with more experience.

What we found most interesting:
In Liz’s research, when she looked at high-performing rookies, she found the most valuable/highest performing of the rookies were experienced executives taken out of one domain and put into a different one. They know enough to know the good questions to ask, how to manage people, and have their “sea legs” but are placed in a different sea so don’t know all the answers. This is where she found executives are at their best.

To learn about Liz’s approach to the extensive research, the four rookie mindsets, and more interesting insights from Liz and Sue on mid-career professionals and the world of work today, listen to the recording here.

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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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August 29, 2014 / Articles We Like

On "Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence"

In our work, we notice complexity either challenges leaders or presents an opportunity to thrive. So what sets apart those who can manage it well from those who can’t?  As this author explains, it’s more than intellect.  It’s curiosity. At Mariposa, we are big believers in the power of curiosity as a leadership quality, and that’s why we share this article.

In the Harvard Business Review blog article written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence,” three key psychological qualities enhance our ability to manage complexity:

  • Intellect Quotient: mental ability
  • Emotional Quotient: this concerns our ability to perceive, control, and express emotions
  • Curiosity Quotient: having a hungry mind

Read the article to learn more about how and why these three qualities help leaders manage complexity.

Do you agree that these three qualities help leaders manage complexity?  Why or why not?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

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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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December 11, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management

2 Ways Empathy Can Help HR Drive Innovation

In most companies today, innovation is expected from all areas of an organization – including groups not traditionally known for driving innovation agendas, such as Human Resources. Success for HR and Talent Management leaders lies in opening up to new approaches for developing fresh ideas for difficult issues. Here are 2 ways that empathy – a key element of design thinking and one facet of our Breakthrough! model – can help HR & Talent Management leaders go from idea-to-innovation more quickly.

  • Empathy provides context for solutions. Too often, leaders of all types come up with an idea for a product, service or experience in isolation, then implement it. This approach fails to lead to innovation. Developing empathy through various methods of observation and interviewing puts HR leaders in their customer’s shoes, experiencing what they do and how they feel. Thus, HR leaders stand a better chance of developing solutions that work for the customer.
  • Empathy develops T-shaped HR leaders. HR leaders who develop an ability to empathize with their customers have both the vertical skills in human resources and are able to broaden their horizontal perspectives, leading to an ability to look at a problem from multiple dimensions.

For more information on empathy, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us at our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

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