A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.

Smoothing Harsh Edges

Being right is great -- except when it's abrasive.

When the same word crops up over and over in someone’s feedback report, it’s arresting. The one word that cropped up repeatedly for Ahmad was “abrasive.” I understood why. Ahmad was absolute.

“That was the best training ever,” he said about a seminar he attended.
“She’s the best assistant in the whole company,” he said of his boss’s aide.
“Those meetings suck,” he said of the weekly staff meetings he sat through. “They’re all a bunch of blood suckers,” he said of a sales group. More

Speed of Thought

This communication factor separates champions from mere mortals

Brian called me early one morning as he drove to work. The day before, while he and I were working on a presentation for his company’s investors, he’d come up with an analogy for the company that he thought was powerful. Incorporating it into the presentation would mean tweaking many slides but he was enthusiastic about it.

Now, on the phone, Brian was annoyed. James, his CEO, had seemed very cool about the new analogy. Brian quoted James as having said, “I guess we could say that.” Exasperated, Brian said to me, “What the hell kind of reaction is that?” More

Negative Self-Talk

Quiet the inner voice that lies to you.

Have you seen “Groundhog Day?” This classic movie stars Bill Murray as a man who wakes up each day condemned to relive, moment by moment, the day he lived yesterday. No matter what he does to create a new experience, everyone around him behaves in their same, predictable way.

I have a “Groundhog Day” moment in my Presentation Skills Coaching course. More

Eliminating Distractions

Mastering the art of staying focused in the face of distractions.

After years and years working as a television actor, I’d beaten the odds. I was supporting my family, had bought a home and put my daughter in private school. All without ever waiting tables or parking cars!

I’d also learned to accept that working actors in Hollywood don’t act for a living, they audition. And, since most of the time they don’t get the job, in order to work even a little they need to audition a lot. The goal, of course, is to have as high a percentage of success as possible. More

Staying on Track

Stop ricochetting around as a communicator.

“I often feel unequal when I go into meetings,” Cheryl said. As Vice President of Consumer Products at a Hollywood studio, Cheryl was getting feedback that when she spoke she was hard to follow and appeared scattered in her thinking.“Tell me more about feeling unequal,” I said.

She told me about meeting with the division’s two senior executives to present a product line strategy. Suddenly she was telling me about a meeting with Wal-Mart execs in Bentonville, Arkansas. Those two meetings didn’t seem connected but I wasn’t sure. Then she was telling me about delegating a complex project to one of her direct reports and how she manages that woman. We were about seven minutes into her answer. I called a time out. More

Playback as Feedback

Overcoming the knee-jerk reaction of "I hate my voice on tape!"

Roland is a dapper Australian. In conversation his language is a seamless stream of delightful metaphors and analogies. People love listening to Roland. Except when he presents.In front of groups, Roland is plagued with “um’s.” Unable to change this annoying habit, he came to me. Even in a mock presentation with just the two of us in a conference room, sure enough, the “um’s” leapt out in full force. So we began working to change his habit.

The first goal when trying to change any habit is not to do anything differently but to try to create awareness of the habit itself. When do I do it? When don’t I do it? Is there a feeling connected to it? What do I know about it? Try to get as conscious as you can about it. More

Holding People Accountable

Four simple steps to create personal accountability

I recently attended a personal growth workshop. The morning of the first day, the leader read a list of behaviors she wanted us to commit to. One was about confidentiality, another was about respectful interactions and so on. One I particularly liked was about punctuality. It went like this: “At the end of each break I agree to have my butt in my chair by the time the music ends.” She then played the music. Most of us recognized it as the opening to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” We laughed appreciatively. More

Speaking for Yourself

The clarity, power and authenticity of "I" statements.


Karen’s mandate from her division president was to “be more executive.” A natural relationship builder, Karen originally thought being more executive meant holding people more accountable and being more efficient with time. More

Sounding Well-Spoken

Three questions to ask yourself before you open your mouth

Can you think of anything you do that is its very best the first time you do it? I’m not talking about something where you’re the receiver like reading a mystery or tasting a new food, but some act that you perform. Is there an action where your performance is at its peak the first time you do it?

For years I’ve asked this question to groups and so far I’ve never heard an answer that held water. Why? Because performance improves after you’ve done something at least once. That’s why professionals rehearse in private.

Why is this important? Here’s a story. More

Remembering Names

5 steps for improving this critical skill.

“I never remember people’s names!” I’ve heard this lament from six different people in the last month alone. If this is a struggle of yours, here are five actions that will put you on a path to success.

First, adopt the belief Dale Carnegie wrote about in the granddaddy of all self-help books, How To Win Friends and Influence People. Everyone in the world, he said, has one word that is most special to them: their name. More

Delivering Tough Feedback

Three actions to help you deliver tough feedback.

Rich, the CFO of his division, is a caring, empathic guy who excels in many ways. In the final minutes of a coaching session he happened to mention he was about to give some tough feedback to one of his direct reports. I asked if I could help. He rolled his eyes and said, “Oh, it’s a LONG story.”

The only part of his story that was really long was how long he had been putting off delivering any feedback to this woman. Four people had already left her department because of her but he was only now taking action! He was embarrassed to have let the situation get so out of control. When I asked what had stopped him from intervening sooner, he said, “She’s going to go nuclear when she hears this.” More

Getting Growth Acknowledged

Be sure your development is getting noticed -- without bragging.

I remember when I first saw John without his beard and mustache. I’d known him for seven or eight years and he’d always had facial hair. Then, suddenly, one day he didn’t. It was disorienting and I told him so. “Well, at least you noticed,” he said. “Most people have no idea what’s changed. They keep asking if I’ve lost weight!”

For months after, I was aware of making a mental adjustment each time I saw him. “Oh, right!” I’d remind myself. “He shaved.” It was a long time before the new, clean-shaven John was imprinted in my head. More

Managing Nervousness

A proven method to stop the fight with your nervousness.

Of fifteen division presidents at a worldwide entertainment conglomerate, Marla is one of only two females. She’s always been a nervous speaker but presenting at her first president’s meeting took her to new heights (or depths!) of nervousness.

Everyone swiveled towards her as she stood at the end of the long, polished conference table and began to speak. Twenty minutes or so later she finished. Gathering her papers she saw a note in her assistant’s handwriting. She was certain it hadn’t been there when she started and she wondered where it had come from. More

Sounding Executive

Four ways to achieve the right altitude for executive communication.

Bruce, the local head of IT for a worldwide organization, was giving me feedback about two managers he wanted to groom for promotion. Here’s what he said about the first manager.

“She’s great with her group. And she’s a creative thinker. But when she reports to me she goes on forever and piles on all this irrelevant information. Sometimes I get really impatient listening to her.” More

Listen without An Agenda

Four tools to change the way you listen

At 31, with her MBA under her belt, Patricia was doing well. In the male-dominated world of warehouse management, she was a team leader doing systems installations.

She also had some challenges. She was barely 5’4″ and looked like a high school cheerleader. “People always call me ‘perky’ and I hate it,” she said. “That’s why I went from Patty to Patricia but I still get treated like a little girl.” More

Leading with Your Heart

Inspire others by showing emotion.

William is President of International Finance for a worldwide financial organization. He was proud to tell me he’d been invited by his alma mater to give the keynote address at a prestigious Alumni Career Forum.

While brainstorming ideas for the speech, William said he’d like to talk about a professor who’d had a profound impact on him. As he told me about this influential man, William choked up with emotion. Being highly analytical and used to having control over his emotions, this surprised and unsettled him; he quickly changed the subject. Later in the session he mentioned this professor again, and again his throat constricted and his voice quavered. He clamped down and said, “Well, I guess I won’t be talking about that!” When I asked why not, he said, “Well, I certainly don’t want to get choked up in front of a thousand alumni.” More

Accessing Your Best Thinking

Slow yourself down so you can go faster.

Richard had been CFO at a defense contracting company for four years when I met him. He was technically gifted, maintained strong relationships and was fairly expressive and intuitive. This guy was clearly succeeding. He wanted to work with me because he felt he wasn’t a very strong presenter.

When I asked him to tell me about presenters he liked, he easily thought of three. When I asked him to identify specific behaviors that made those presenters powerful, he was amazingly articulate about what each one did to be effective. More

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