March 21, 2014 / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Habits of the Mind

We all know there are simple things we can do to have a more healthy body, like eat well, rest and exercise.  But it only dawned on me recently that there is an equivalent sort of hygiene for the mind.  Here are three powerful “habits of the mind” that I believe contribute powerfully to long-term mental and emotional strength.  They take effort, but the payoff is huge:

  • Optimism
  • Positive self-talk and self-regard
  • Forgiveness

Click here to read more!

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.

December 21, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "4 Essential Ingredients in Consumer Storytelling"

We share this article by Diane Hessan because businesses that use narrative to communicate consumer stories can create real meaning for employees and decision makers, inspiring them to action by altering perceptions and assumptions.  Storytelling is a synthesis of all sources of customer information, not just one person’s account, however inspiring, and offers insights to help businesses move in the right direction.

In the inc. article, “4 Essential Ingredients in Consumer Storytelling,” the author outlines four key ingredients for creating consumer stories that resonate:

  1. Get personal and build relationships.
  2. Plan deliberately and explore from different angles.
  3. Use human intuition to find the story that matters.
  4. Evoke emotions that inspire action.

Read more about these ingredients now.

What actions have you been inspired to take as a result of consumer narratives?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

December 20, 2013 / Articles We Like

On: "The Role of Talent in Your Customer Experience"

We share this article by Jorie Basque because it links talent management processes with the customer experience, and describes steps HR and talent management leaders can take to directly impact their company’s customer service climate.

In the CX Journey article, “The Role of Talent in Your Customer Experience”, the author outlines steps for reviewing talent selection, training, management and rewards to ensure a strong connection to the customer experience.  Read it now.

What are you doing to connect talent management processes to your company’s customer experience?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

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 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 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.




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.

June 13, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Communication Barrier Tips

Janelle asks:  I’m experiencing communication barriers with my direct reports.  On two projects, I’ve asked them to take the lead on things but they’ve dropped the ball.  What tips can you offer to help with my communication?

Tawny Lees, COO responds:

How frustrating!  When making requests, many communication barriers can occur. When you reflect on these requests, were they posed in a direct manner, i.e.: “Will you?”, or indirect, such as “Can you please…?”  Indirect requests are not straightforward enough to solicit an immediate yes/no response.  Also make sure any request is very specific – you’d be amazed at how often they aren’t! Include:

  • Who:  will do the work
  • What:  specific action and/or result needed
  • When:  time frame
  • Why:  context/purpose

Then, make sure to listen for a true response, which should indicate a yes, no, an alternative proposal or a commitment to do it at a later time.

One final tip:  direct requests might sound strange at first, so we recommend practicing them.  Successful use comes from mastering your tone of voice, which should be firm and clear to prevent communication barriers.

For more information, we suggest:

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.

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