April 11, 2017 / Articles We Like / Stress / Work-Life Integration

On “Balancing Parenting and Work Stress: A Guide”

Being a working parent is tough. The stress of trying to achieve a balance between career and children can really take a toll on your personal and professional life. If you could ask hundreds of high-performing working parents for advice, what do you think they would say?

In her recent Harvard Business Review article, “Balancing Parenting and Work Stress: A Guide,” author Daisy Wademan Dowling gathered this advice to address some of the biggest working-parent problems. In her article, Wademan Dowling has come up with a list of specific actions that she believes “will work for you, your people, and your organization.”

What do you think of Daisy’s advice?

July 29, 2016 / Articles We Like / Strategy

On “Embracing Change Means Disrupting Your Day”

Can positive change be achieved without disruption? Is your mindset about accepting change and seeing it as a wonderful opportunity or does the “newness” of change seem like a disruption to the comfortable and familiar that you’ve created at home and at work?

In this recent HBR article Embracing Change Means Disrupting Your Day, authors Kate Sweetman and Shane Cragun explore the idea of “growth mindset” and why it is needed to achieve success in today’s environment.

Are you embracing change in this tumultuous and global environment?

February 27, 2014 / Articles We Like

On: "Eight Essentials for Scaling Up Without Screwing Up"

From product development to HR, do you know of a leader that isn’t trying to identify and spread excellence within their organizations?  We don’t (everyone is!), and that’s why this article by Robert I. Sutton resonates with us.

Meeting – and exceeding – customer needs is a top priority for most executives interested in building a customer-focused organization.  Yet success requires scaling up the key beliefs, skills and actions that demonstrate excellence. This is no easy feat and if not managed well, can be a barrier to any corporate initiative, not just those that are customer-focused. The Harvard Business Review article, Eight Essentials for Scaling Up Without Screwing Up, is based on extensive research and outlines the key principles and actions for effective scaling.

Read it now.

What barriers do you encounter when trying to scale up?

November 26, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "A New Model for Innovation in Big Companies"

We share this article by Beth Altringer because research shows internal innovation models in global companies fail between 70%-90% of the time. Getting new ideas off the ground is challenging when those best suited for championing those ideas are strapped for time.  Outsourcing innovation, while costly, can bring in fresh ideas but large companies tend to bump up against availability of internal resources to see those ideas through.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “A New Model for Innovation in Big Companies,” the author explores a new form of organizational collaboration that uses entrepreneurs to stimulate and sustain innovation in large companies.

Read it now.

September 25, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "Can Building Great Products Help You Build Great Teams?"

This article by Deep Nishar, SVP of Products and User Experience at LinkedIn, resonates with our experience working in Silicon Valley.  Silicon Valley was not born on leadership skills but great products.    However, as a 20-year veteran leader of product and user experience teams, he deftly makes the connection between product management principles and people management.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Can Building Great Products Help You Build Great Teams?, Deep dissects his “Seven Principles to Product Bliss” and correlates each one to leadership skills.  The wisdom in his article imparts a lesson:  shifting your perspective can yield unexpected insights.  Read it now.

What insights on leadership skills can you glean from your everyday life?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

September 10, 2013 / Stress / Work-Life Integration

How to Keep Up

Sandra asks: I’ve been in my new role for about six months and have been working at a frenetic pace. I have global conference calls late at night and early morning with my team and am working long hours so I don’t miss aggressive deadlines.  I’m not eating the way I used to, and not sleeping well either.  By the time the weekend comes, I’m so tired, I barely see my kids.  How can I better manage my time and still keep up?

Tawny Lees, COO, responds:

The demands of a fast-paced environment can be stressful enough without considering you’re also in a new role.  Working long hours to meet these demands ends up taking a toll, as you’re already experiencing.  Our advice is to focus on managing your energy.  Why?  Because energy is renewable, but time is not. Engaging in practices which recharge your energy will help you meet the demands of work more effectively. We love Tony Schwartz’s advice in this arena.

Everyone has four energy centers.  Here are some tips you can engage in to renew each energy center:

  1. Body/Physical Energy:  SLEEP is most important. Working while continuously sleep deprived is like driving drunk. Seriously. Make 7-8 hours a night a priority. Try to engage in some kind of regular exercise routine – short bursts of intense is best, doesn’t have be long.  Eat high-protein nutrient-dense foods on a regular cycle, not letting your blood sugar and energy crash.
  2. Emotions/Quality of Energy: Try deep breathing exercises, 5-6 second exhale in the abdominal area.  Express appreciation often.
  3. Mind/Focus of Energy:  Carve out time to get your work done without distractions – shut off/down email and phone, for example. Focus in increments, take breaks.
  4. Human Spirit/Energy of Meaning & Purpose:  Determine what you do best and enjoy most at work and figure out how to do it more often.  Create rituals that allow you to allocate time and energy to an area of your life that’s important to you, such as your kids.

Read more about this in Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, by Tony Schwartz (2007), Harvard Business Review.

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.

July 29, 2013 / Articles We Like / Recommended Reading

On: "Surprises Are the New Normal: Resilience is the New Skill"

We share this article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter because in business, as in life, change is a constant.  An unlikely competitor disrupts your market share, a new promising product fails to get traction, key talent resigns.  What makes the difference between winning and losing in those situations is how you bounce back.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Surprises are the New Normal: Resilience is the New Skill, we learn about resilience, what it is – and is not.  Elizabeth Moss Kanter offers sage thoughts for us all.

Read it.

How resilient is your organization?  What do you do as a leader to help your team move forward after a setback?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

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

Ask Mariposa: Criteria for Coach Selection


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.

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

Ask Mariposa: Team Listening Skills


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:


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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