Collective Restoration and Rejuvenation: The Journey of the Monarch

Since 2018, I have been a bit fascinated with the Monarch butterfly. There was a post on our local NextDoor group in Madison, requesting support to transport a monarch butterfly to Texas that had not hatched in time for release into the wild to make the unbelievable journey to the mountains of Michoacan in central Mexico. “Misty the Monarch”, named by the primary school student who had participated in a community science project to raise butterflies to learn about their life cycle and their journey, was in peril. Butterflies should be on their way by October and yet it was the end of November and Misty was finally ready to fly. 

As readers know, every year we make the drive from Madison to Oaxaca, Mexico for winter, passing through Texas. After a bit of persuasion, my husband agreed we could fit Misty in our car to release him in Texas. The student was delighted that Misty would at least have a chance to reunite with his colony to winter in Mexico as hundreds of generations have done previously. Over the next three days, we took great care to feed and provide water with Q-tips on the outside of Misty’s screened container to keep him nourished, bringing him inside in the evenings. When we arrived in southern Texas, the conditions were perfect for his release. It was sunny, about 55 degrees and there was a good breeze. We were hopeful that he would find his way. As I opened his habitat, he slowly flapped his wings and then shot up into the sky like a rocket. 




From that day, I wanted to visit the Monarch Biosphere in Michoacan, Mexico. This was the year.  On our first day, we arrived in Sierra Chincua in the late afternoon to see the butterflies coming back to their pods as the sun started to set and the air started to cool down. The area had experienced severe weather two weeks earlier with hail and snow that killed an entire colony nearby but this colony managed to survive. My photos don’t convey the awesome natural phenomenon we witnessed. Millions of butterflies clustering together on the branches of the Oyamel fir trees to stay warm during the night. 



Over the period of 4-5 months, every day as the sun shines upon them, they awaken collectively to swarm to find water and flower nectar. It is a breathtaking experience.





Monarchs and Dia de los Muertos

The monarch’s arrival in Mexico has a strong cultural significance as it coincided with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or All Saints Day, November 2. For the people of Michoacan, it is believed that the Monarchs represent the souls of their ancestors returning to visit them. The indigenous group, Purépecha have tracked the monarchs for centuries. With climate change, the arrival of the monarchs is getting later every year. Our guide said that this year they arrived around November 10. Yet the belief of their connection between the living and the dead remains.

The Interdependence of Monarchs and Communities

As with all ecotourism, the communities that support and care for the habitats are interdependent with the ecosystem. The tension exists between protection of the habitat and the local economy turning to cultivation of avocados, cutting down the forest to plant avocado trees. As climate change and habitat destruction along the fly way continue (elimination of milkweed plants and nectar-producing flowers), less butterflies are arriving in the overwintering habitat.

This year, 2023-24 there is significant alarm regarding the drop in the overwintering population, the lowest in 10 years and the second lowest since the count began in 1993. There are many different ways to contribute to the recovery and rejuvenation of the Monarch population. Whether it is supporting a school project of growing and releasing a “Misty”, planting native habitat along the flyway, contributing financially or advocating for conservation policies. Let’s do our part to make sure future generations have their ancestors returning to visit them. 

Emotional Intelligence is the Leadership Game Changer

I have been curious about leadership development for decades. In the early 2000’s, I came across the seminal book Emotional Intelligence (EI) by Daniel Goleman which was groundbreaking in defining what makes a leader.  

Emotional and Social intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions effectively in ourselves and in others. It describes the behaviors that sustain people in challenging roles or as their careers become more demanding, and it captures the qualities that help people deal effectively with change. 

In Goleman’s earliest work, he conducted research with 188 companies and found that the qualities traditionally associated with leadership- such as intelligence and technical skills – are required for success, yet they are insufficient. The truly effective leaders have high degrees of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

When calculating the ratio of technical skills, IQ and emotional intelligence as ingredients for excellent performance, EI proved to be twice as important as the others for outstanding performance at all levels of organizations.

Since 1995, Goleman has advanced his research, refining the framework of EI qualities. These initial five qualities evolved into four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. 

Self-awareness: Recognizing and understanding your own emotions. All of the other emotional and social intelligence competencies are built upon emotional self-awareness.

Self-management: Effectively managing your own emotions. Keeps you open-minded and focused. Helps you channel your energies and contain your frustrations.

Social Awareness: Recognizing and understanding the emotions of others. Helps you tune in and stay alert to others’ feelings and perspectives, and enables you to observe – accurately – influencers, decision makers, relationships and networks.

Relationship Management: Applying emotional understanding in your dealings with others. Enables you to bring out the best in others. Helps you deliver much more than you possibly can on your own.

Within each domain are 12 EI competencies which are learnable capabilities that foster outstanding performance as a leader.

Our self-perception or intention may not align with how others perceive our actions. The ability to close the gap between self-perception and reputation lies in the EI competencies. To excel, leaders need to develop the entire suite of EI competencies. Some competencies may be more naturally present than others. All competencies can be learned and measured.

An initial step to develop EI competencies is to complete a comprehensive 360-degree assessment which collects your self-rating and the views of others that know you well. The different rater groups should be your manager, the people you lead, peers, customers/clients and others you work closely with. The more raters included, the better perspective you will gain. Receiving results of a 360-degree assessment is the first step to map your journey in developing EI competencies. Coaching is the most effective method for supporting your development as you practice new behaviors and develop new perspectives.

I recently became certified in the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI 360) developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis in partnership with Korn Ferry. The assessment measures the 12 different competencies through reviewing 68 specific behaviors. I am excited to have a tool to support the learning I have gained about EI over the last 20 years. I can now support leaders in their journey from knowledge to measurement to development of behaviors.

If you are feeling like it is time to “up your game” as a leader, consider the ESCI 360 and coaching support to move to the next level as a leader. Not sure where to start? Let’s connect to explore your options.  

Tips for At-Home Mini-Sabbaticals

If you have been reading my blog over the past year, you may remember the post “The Fruits of Mini-Sabbaticals” that I wrote in November 2022 to share my approach to the 4 Rs (rest, rejuvenation, reflection, resetting).

I was all set to head to Hawaii last month and I had to cancel the trip. Instead of giving up on the idea of a mini-sabbatical, I redesigned the week to capture the same intention at home. There are certain activities that I incorporate in my annual mini-sabbatical and I wanted to maintain as many of those as possible. I thought I would share my approach to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve much of the same outcome without the expense and effort of traveling.

    1. REMOVE yourself from your daily work routine. That means set the “out of office” reply, stating that you are on a personal retreat/mini-sabbatical. Keep the computer off unless you are using it for something creative, but definitely no email, and leave your office setting.
    2. REST. That means no alarm clock, get up when your body tells you, stay in bed if that feels right, take a nap.
    3. REJUVENATE. What brings you energy? Incorporate that into your mini-sabbatical routine. For me that is going to the gym during non-busy hours, hiking, doing yoga, scheduling a spa day/massage, and visiting the local botanical garden conservatory. 
    4. REFLECTION. Each year, I decide what I want to focus on during this break, whether it is reading a book, designing a new program or deepening my learning of a subject. I also use this time for extended journal writing.
    5. RESETTING. I have used the “End of Year Reset Worksheet” process
      from to look back on the year and look forward to the next year with intention. I also do the initial year-end financial review and preliminary budgeting and business planning for the next year.

Although I wasn’t able to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean, I came away from my At-Home Mini-Sabbatical feeling refreshed, focused and energized to finish up 2023 with clarity and optimism to move into 2024!

Creating a Championship Team with the Enneagram

This time of year comes with many emotions. As we transition into autumn, the days are shorter, the weather starts to cool down which may slow down your energy AND it is playoff baseball time which for baseball fans is an exciting time of year!

I have been a baseball fan my whole life and started playing the game at age 9. As I watched both final games of the 2023 League series (Houston Astros v. Texas Rangers) and (Philadelphia Phillies v. Arizona Diamondbacks) I saw the teams that were “supposed” to win – including last year’s World Champion- fade away and the teams that both had lost more than 100 games just two years ago, do what was seemingly impossible.

So what contributed to the exciting outcome of the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks going to the World Series?  Well many things of course, but in the context of looking at team development and team dynamics, I see the same components that make teams great in the workplace.

Moving from good to great team performance

In my work as a leadership coach, I have supported teams to identify the “why” is our team stuck and the “how can we be better performing?” Recently, I was introduced to a framework and a process that can unlock the pathways to team greatness. Ginger Lapid-Bogda,PhD an organizational development consultant and coach, uses the Enneagram framework to support teams moving toward greatness. She developed a concept called the  “3As”:  alignment, attunement and acceleration.

Credit: The Enneagram in Business

Teams that are able to access the collective wisdom of their three Centers of Intelligence (Head Center, Heart Center and Body Center) move to peak performance. Teams have all three centers just like people. So the key question for teams is “Are we accessing and using the wisdom of all three Centers of Intelligence?”

Team Alignment (the collective head center): Aligned teams have a shared understanding of team vision, goals and the team member interdependence to achieve those goals. They know where the team is headed and why each individual team member’s contribution matters to achieving those goals.

Team Attunement (the collective heart center): Attuned teams feel deeply connected to other team members’ needs and feelings. There is passion for the work because each team member sees their contribution to the whole and that energy (from the heart) propels the team forward.

Team Acceleration (the collective body center): Accelerating teams move forward together in a unified direction because they are aligned with passion and energy because they are attuned.

Unaligned or Unattuned teams DO NOT Accelerate.

Teams that are aligned but not attuned may be productive but over time they run the risk of burnout. Teams that are attuned but not aligned enjoy being together but collectively productivity may be low as the task focus is unclear.

Where do you start with team alignment and attunement?

The first step is to determine the team’s dominant Center of Intelligence. I support teams by conducting the Enneagram self-assessment with each team member. Through this assessment, each team member will identify whether their behaviors are driven by the Head Center, Heart Center or Body Center.

With the understanding of each team member’s natural inclination, you can determine the team’s collective dominant Center of Intelligence. If your team is over-expressed in the head center, you have clarity on alignment but not enough connection or attunement so there is risk of burnout. That will point your team to doing more work in building relationships and cohesion.  If your team is over-expressed in the heart center, you will enjoy collaboration but you won’t have enough clarity on team purpose, goals and deliverables. That will point your team to doing more work in clarifying team purpose, goals and individual tasks. Finally, if your team is over-expressed in the Body Center, you will need to work on both relationship building and clarifying team purpose, goals and deliverables.

Let’s Get Back to Baseball!

How does this connect us back to the playoffs and the two teams who are playing in the World Series?  As I listened to the post-game interviews for the Arizona Diamondbacks, many comments referenced the energy in the clubhouse, the connection between team members (attunement), they also stated that everyone knew what their role was and the little things that mattered (alignment) to move toward the ultimate goal of winning the World Series (acceleration). Time will tell which team has developed the right balance of the “3As” to move to peak performance.

Check out my blog series below on the Enneagram, or get in touch if you want to explore how you can move your team toward peak performance or talk about baseball.

Blog Series

Creating a Championship Team with the Enneagram

The Enneagram: Nine Points of View and Core Motivation

The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation

The Enneagram and Neuroscience: Growing New Neural Pathways


Next Level Board Leadership: What does it take?

I was recently contacted by a local organization to explore supporting them with an executive transition. The leader had given the board more than 9 months notice of retirement and the board was ready to get going on the hiring process.

As I chatted with the board leaders, it became clear there were other challenges that the board was avoiding because they wanted to focus on something that was less contentious and forward-looking.   

I have a few standard questions that I ask to gauge the health of the organization, the health of the board and the relationship between the board chair and executive director.

      1. How large is the board? Are there term limits?
      2. How would you describe the relationship between the board chair and executive director? How often do they meet?
      3. What have the revenue/expense trends been over the last 3 years?
      4. How large of a reserve does the organization have?
      5. When was the last strategic planning process?

The answers to these questions determine how healthy an organization is and I strongly believe this: Your organization is only as healthy as your board and that STARTS with the relationship between your Board Chair and Executive Director. Joan Garry has written many great blog posts related to board health and this post on board chair-executive director relationship came to mind as I sat through this meeting. The answers to the above questions were the following:

1. How large is the board? Are there term limits?

We have a handful of board members but we are recruiting more. We don’t have term limits. WARNING: Without a robust process for board recruitment and transition, the organization is at risk of a governance crisis with the board shrinking and stalling out.

2. How would you describe the relationship between the board chair and executive director? How often do they meet?

Well, we really respect the executive director, they do a great job. The board chair doesn’t have regular meetings with the executive director. If they need the chair, they call her. WARNING: As I stated above, the most important relationship in a nonprofit is that of the chief executive and board chair. They share leadership of the organization. If there isn’t regular communication, the organization is at risk of going adrift.

3. What have the revenue/expense trends been over the last 3 years?

Well, we have a very large reserve so the board has approved a deficit budget the last few years but we have told the executive director they really need to develop a balanced budget for the next year. WARNING: There are times when it is strategic to approve a deficit budget. In this situation, there was no strategic investment being funded, it was just an unwillingness of the executive director to cut expenses, or increase revenue to compensate for programs that were not fully funded. This was coupled with an unwillingness of the board to fulfill their fiduciary obligation of being stewards of the organization assets and require a balanced budget.  As we all know from our own personal financial stewardship… this strategy doesn’t end well.

4. What have the revenue/expense trends been over the last 3 years?

Related to the answer to the previous question,…we still have a pretty decent reserve but if we continue our deficit budgets as we have, we won’t have any reserves in three years. WARNING: I think the concern about this is pretty clear.

5. When was the last strategic planning process?
Hmmm, let’s see.. I can’t recall the last time we did strategy development. We have an operational plan every year that explains the calendar of activities for all the programs. WARNING: The board is on auto-pilot.  One of the primary functions of a nonprofit board is to establish the organizational identity (mission, vision, purpose) and the strategic direction in response to the community needs it is supporting.

After this very enlightening conversation, I suggested the board might consider focusing on a few other things before conducting a search for a new executive director. They were not interested in focusing on anything but hiring a new executive director.  I wished them well in the transition.

If you are interested in how to build a high impact board, please consider attending the upcoming training on Next Level Board Leadership on October 25, 2023.

For more information on nonprofit governance, check out one of these blog posts:

What Sombrero are You Wearing?

Every great nonprofit begins with a great board

What’s Governance Got to Do With It?

The Enneagram: Nine Points of View and Core Motivation

The Enneagram framework refers to nine points of view, also known as Types, or styles that reference a different perspective of the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world, others and themselves. It reveals more than a personality profile, as it goes into the often unconscious core motivations that lie deep within our personality, and helps us to understand why we are the way we are. While each of us have all nine motivations within us, one of these nine is more dominant and serves as the main driver for how we show up in the world.

Typing, Not Stereotyping

For the Enneagram to have value, it is essential that you identify your core Type/style. This is the starting point to explore and open up the possibility for change and transformation. There is a danger in using a “type-based” system in that it can be easy to stereotype people. Stereotyping implies that one fact about someone leads to making assumptions about many other characteristics. Stereotyping limits our openness and perspective. A person cannot be oversimplified and reduced to their type alone. The Enneagram should be used to inspire compassion for self and others. Deepening our understanding of the perspectives, motivations and behaviors of other Types/styles improves our curiosity, empathy and communication and reduces the likelihood to judge and dismiss other people’s approaches, points of view and styles.

Motivations, not behavior

One of the key differentiators of the Enneagram framework is that it explores deep-seated core motivations, not only the outwardly observable behaviors. Using the iceberg model, behaviors are visible and above the waterline, but they are driven by the deep, unconscious motivations.

Individuals from different Types/styles may display similar surface behaviors while having very different core motivations. For example, two people may both demonstrate the behavior of being unstructured and late to meetings. However, with further exploration, one person might demonstrate this behavior because of the core motivation of an Enneagram Two style, saying yes to too many things, becoming overloaded because they are driven by the desire to be liked and needed. While the other person might demonstrate this same behavior because of the core motivation of an Enneagram Seven style, driven by the desire to keep things interesting and not experience the pain of a boring meeting.



If you have ever wondered WHY someone does what they do, the Enneagram offers a pathway for exploring the core motivations of each Type/style. These insights can strengthen your understanding of tensions and possibilities that exist in relationships, teams, and organizations.

Check out my blog series below on the Enneagram, or get in touch for coaching on how to begin the journey of moving toward your full potential.

Blog Series

Creating a Championship Team with the Enneagram

The Enneagram: Nine Points of View and Core Motivation

The Enneagram: Connecting Ancient Wisdom to Global Transformation

The Enneagram and Neuroscience: Growing New Neural Pathways