Leading with Resilience and Clarity in a Time of Crisis and Uncertainty

When to speak forthrightly about what we are sensing and
feeling?  How to say it and to whom?  How does our desire to speak with candor and, alternatively, the need for diplomacy align with our goals?  What are the consequences of speaking up or not doing so.

The tension of Candor & Diplomacy influences all of us in public settings, at work and at home.  This is especially apparent in conversations in the context of race and racism.  This tension impacts individuals from groups that are marginalized in the broader ‘white’ culture very differently from those identifying with the dominant culture.

The necessity to participate with more confidence, humility and capacity in these potentially fraught conversations is arising more frequently, especially in our workplace.

Sandra M. Martínez, Ph.D, PCC

President and Founder

Sandra M. Martínez is the President and Founder of Fénix Leadership & Development.  She is a seasoned executive coach and consulting professional with
more than 20 years of experience working with strategic leaders in the U.S. and abroad.  She assists her clients in expanding their understanding of self, growing their awareness of the impact of their behavior on others, and broadening their repertoire of leadership perspectives and strategies.  This enables them to lead more effectively in complex situations, turbulence and uncertainty.  Formerly an instructor and researcher associated with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, she also served on the faculty of the U.S. Army War College as the Transformation Chair, with a mandate to prepare national security professionals for leadership in turbulent and complex environments.  

Sandra’s work has always been grounded in recognizing the intrinsic value and potential contributions of all cultures, races, and ethnic groups to address the challenges we collectively face.  She believes that diversity and inclusion are strategic imperatives for organizations.  Thus, it is critical for organizations to create psychologically safe spaces where individuals can grow and thrive equitably. Through her experience coaching leaders of color, her support of women in the U.S. and abroad, and her own life experience, she has learned to leverage the dynamics of conversation as a pathway to the emergence of understanding, empathy, inclusion and constructive change.

Our services and programs gives you the opportunity to:


Experiential Learning

  • Experience two days of highly interactive immersion into the complexity and paradox of three critical challenges: Diversity & Inclusion, Supporting High-Achieving Women and Cultivating Innovation
  • Learn to identify the paradoxes at play in situations presenting competing demands and values

Sensing And Leveraging Leadership Paradoxes

·      Populate the Polarity Maps® of salient tensions to better ‘see’ the interrelated dynamics and broaden choices for effective action

·      Practice tools and approaches that account for the complexity and ambiguity of challenges in moving toward greater clarity and effective action


Improvising to design action

  • Through jazz improvisation, learn to act in the midst of uncertainty and change
  • Expand your network of leaders seeking to develop their capacity and grow in their awareness of their own perspectives, assumptions, and worldview

Conversations to build trust and awareness

  • Develop a deeper awareness of your own ambivalence and defense mechanism
  • Expand your capacity to communicate in difficult and complex situations


“Dr. Martinez’s thoughtful, insightful approach of blending jazz improvisation with leadership tools I can use in complex adaptive systems created a powerful environment in which to learn. My excitement and enthusiasm are heightened and I am actively noticing paradoxes and polarities in discussions I have with my team members and leaders.”

Senior Leader

National Security

“With Sandra’s support as my executive coach, I made significant progress in my leadership development and I am much more confident about my leadership capacity. This coaching experience positively impacted my day-to-day operations. I am experiencing different patterns of thinking and behavior on a daily basis, in particular I now recognize and step back from my immediate and more primitive reactions to a crisis to consider other options and the impact of different options on the outcome of dealing with a difficult situation. I examine how my behavior might be contributing to the outcome. I empathize with people who are probably not acting in their best or the team’s best interest and have a greater appreciation of where they are in their development.”

“I enjoyed the way Dr. Martinez referred to evidence-based knowledge and behavioral insights and also provided me with materials that helped me to make sense of situations we were discussing. She has an innate ability to translate the conversation in a way that pushes one to consider the whole picture, and even see points of views one had not explored beforehand. I am now committed to continue to nurture this side of my professional life, as much as I nurture the scientific and content expert side. I would work with Sandra again and highly recommend her to others, especially those who seek to be challenged to accelerate their leadership capacity.”

Senior Leader, Research and Public Health administration

“Experiencing Sandra’s coaching led to a transformational change in my leadership style. Creating an open environment for discussion, reflection and positive challenge, Sandra has taken my leadership performance to new heights and enabled me to engage with greater influence and positive outcomes across all organizational levels.”

Senior Leader

Multinational Consumer and Industrial Business

“It has been a real privilege and treat to work with Dr. Sandra Martinez. She researches, understands and shares concepts of leadership and leader development in a highly integrative and interconnected way. Her research is deep and thorough-going. Her ability to diagnose and focus in on organizational, institutional and cultural issues that affect the abilities of leaders is unusual and goes well beyond just surface problems and conditions. She is highly professional in her coaching and consulting practice and authentic and genuine in her desire to assist clients. ”        

Dr. Cathy Downes

Professor, National Defense University

Founder & Associates

Sandra M. Martínez, Ph.D

For 25 years, SANDRA M. MARTINEZ, Ph.D. has supported leaders and organizations globally, first as a researcher, then as a consultant and executive coach. Responding to a mandate of the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, she was named the Defense Transformation Chair at the US Army War College where she introduced adult stage (vertical) development to the Professional Military Education curriculum to develop the capacity of senior leaders facing complex and ambiguous environments. Also, as a certified Master Practitioner in Polarities, she works with entrepreneurs and leaders in business, government and non-profit organizations to create understanding and clarify effective action in the face of complex challenges. Early in her career, she served as an adjunct faculty member at the Wharton School. She has presented and consulted in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe and published on the subject of complexity and adult stage development. She earned a B.A. in Music at Colorado Women’s College, a master’s degree in International Management at University of New Mexico and a Ph.D. in Business Administration at New Mexico State University. She is certified as an executive coach and to score and debrief the Maturity Assessment Profile (MAP). As a pianist, she draws on her experience in both the arts and science to enrich and expand the personal mastery and capacity of leaders and organizations.

Mario Block

Mario Block is the web designer for Fénix Leadership & Development. He has a BS in Computer Science. Since the beginning of his career in 2003, he has leveraged technology to advance the development and the goals of the team and the organization. Always motivated to learn and contribute, he acquired experience in most of the CMSs (content management systems) now operational in the marketplace. He is a specialist in WordPress. Mario has 15 years of experience in computer technology as a technician, analyst, and a consultant. He has not yet met a challenge he could not resolve. He has worked as a software developer for numerous multinationals, including Globant and Avature, and has served several global firms, among them Walt Disney World, Telmex, Deloitte, Nike and Sony. For past several years, as Director of Information Security, he has been responsible for the cyber security for a regional government in Argentina. Recently he became a father. He enjoys as much time as possible with his son and family. He is an amateur athlete in many sports. His personal website is: www.marioblock.com.ar.

Jeffrey Chappell

Pianist JEFFREY CHAPPELL is a gifted, innovative teacher who is renowned for his ability to connect with every student. He has performed throughout the United States and internationally with major symphony orchestras and at venues including Carnegie Hall. He has appeared at jazz festivals such as the East Coast Jazz Festival and Key West International. Recently he was invited to inaugurate and lead the Jazz Studies Program of the Alba Music Festival in Alba, Italy. There he performed as an orchestral pianist and in chamber music and jazz concerts. A recording artist, award-winning composer, and bestselling author, he is the Director of Jazz Studies at Goucher College and is on the faculty of Levine Music. He is also the founder of Music Everybody and composes and performs as part of a jazz quartet he formed with three other musicians, Otherworld (http://www.otherworldjazz.com). He studied with Leon Fleisher, Rudolf Serkin, Eleanor Sokoloff, and Jane Allen. Jeffrey works with students of all ages and different levels of musical ability to encourage their creative expression through improvisation.

Giovonti “Gio” Vick

Giovonti “Gio” Vick has over 10 years of experience as a systems administrator supporting executives at medium and large size organizations including SAP, Apple Corporate, George Mason University and other companies and institutions. Gio currently serves as the IT Specialist II supporting C-suite executives and associate directors at the Carnegie Institute for Science. He is also a committee member of Carnegie’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board which is charged with articulating a set of principles and an actionable institutional strategy to address challenges of DEI within Carnegie and also to take a leadership role in the larger American scientific community. Gio has built specialized knowledge in Apple devices including deployment, system management, hardware and software support. As president and founder of The Holocene Project (https://www.theholoceneproject.com), Gio assists small businesses in the D.C metro area in purchasing new equipment, building their IT infrastructure, initializing device configuration, and providing remote IT support. Outside of information technology, Gio is a home automation enthusiast who takes pride in designing his home into a “giant robot.” Gio serves as a critical member of the Fenix team managing IT-supported and IT-driven projects and ensuring the security of programs and devices.

Our blog

Shaping Organizational Culture for Innovation
If your organization has survived the past few years, surely you have improvised and experimented with new ways of doing things.  You have probably reconfigured some of your processes and redesigned your teams to…
The Challenges and Discomfort of Becoming
In my coaching sessions with leaders, they sometimes describe a persistent doubt, a fear they will be exposed as a fraud, or a deep sense of discomfort when others recognize them for their skills,…
Grace & Forgiveness
Reflecting about what behaviors and dispositions set the stage for inclusive conversations, we find that one of the most complex of these is giving the benefit of the doubt to others. In other words,…

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