A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Roy, a director of quality at a major hospital, wanted some help with a difficult employee. For thirty minutes Roy told me about this fellow’s explosive outbursts, his lack of punctuality at meetings, his failure to share information and a dozen other issues all of which were quite serious.
Finally I asked Roy, “If I went to this guy right now and asked him what your top three concerns are about his performance, what do you think he’d tell me?” More
Kristin, a gifted colleague, was working with me on a large project for a client. Our contact was the director of operations who had a communication style I called “pinballing”: he’d begin a sentence talking about a difficult direct report and end the sentence telling us about a process in the plant that needed refinement. Kristin and I would leave our meetings with him feeling we’d run a marathon uphill in the heat on an empty stomach.
One particular goal-setting meeting with Michael, the pinballer, was feeling especially difficult. But then Kristin did something I often coach others to do and it worked beautifully. More
Randall looked like a Marine recruiting poster. In his forties, he still had the firm body that had made him a high school football star. Close-cropped blond hair and piercing blue eyes set off his handsome face. In front of a room, he looked commanding—until he began to speak.
His voice was almost completely devoid of inflection. His words came out at a comfortable pace—and never altered. His attractive face became an unexpressive mask. His whole demeanor was lacking variety. No wonder people were having trouble listening to him. More
Dan’s feedback was harsh, especially from his direct reports. Some typical comments: “He doesn’t want to hear bad news.” “He refuses to accept reality and then gets mad at us when things go wrong.” “Dan needs to get a grip on what’s real. Wake up or get out!”
It seemed his direct reports, feeling ignored and angry, were using Dan’s feedback report to vent. I wondered how Dan would respond to this very direct, “in your face” bad news. More
Marcy was a client of mine over a year ago. Bright, funny and highly motivated, she was a delight to coach. Knowing I regularly give books to my
coaching clients, she just sent me the following email.
“Thanks again for the two books you gave me during our coaching. I’ve read Nathaniel Branden’s self-esteem book twice now. Liked it even more the second time. “My kids are getting ready for school and I’m about to sit on a couple international flights. Do you have any back-to-school recommendations for me?”
In response to her email I created a list of recommended reading with editorial comments. More
Ramesh is blessed with a blend of technical genius and emotional intelligence. He is patient and smart and insightful. He’s also conflict-averse. Repeatedly, he found himself backing away from holding Loren, one of his technology officers, accountable.
“He’s explosive and irrational,” Ramesh said to me. “And I ought to know. He’s an old friend. He’s always been this way.”
“So what would be a good outcome?” I asked.
He thought for a minute, then smiled. “I don’t suppose we could get him to change, could we?” More
Richard, head of engineering for a consumer products company, had to inform offices from Singapore to Siberia about new processes and procedures. Being fairly introverted, he felt robotic and awkward after just three presentations. The fourth time out he gave an uncomfortable performance that left his audience more glazed than a day-old donut. And he still had half the world to go! More
Keith is a division president whom I coached many years ago. Now he was calling me about Sondra, his new head of sales and marketing.
“Working with her is a roller coaster. Some days she seems fine then five minutes later she’s pouting or crying or angry. I really need her to level out and stop the drama.” More
After a team of executives concluded an exercise at a recent offsite, I asked one of the participants if I could give him some feedback. He visibly flinched. “Sure,” he squeaked unconvincingly. Then he swallowed so loudly we all laughed.
“My goodness, what are you expecting?” I asked.
“Well,” he said bravely, “nothing good.”
In fact, the feedback I had for him was nothing but good. During the exercise he’d displayed a powerful capacity to think at a high-level and summarize articulately. He’d added value every time he spoke. That was my feedback for him. More
Terri’s feedback from her peers and superiors was consistent: people wanted a stronger presence from her. They all knew how smart she was, and they knew she was ethical and hardworking. But the feedback’s message was clear: to be seen as a leader, she was going to have to develop a bigger presence.
Although not yet forty, Terri had an old school belief: if I keep my head down and my nose to the grindstone, people will notice and reward my efforts. She was not happy when I told her that that belief system got debunked back when my dad was still driving Ramblers. More
Before I began coaching Mark, I spoke with his boss, Kendra. She was clearly his fan. Besides authorizing his coaching, she’d increased his responsibilities and was positioning him for a promotion.
While talking about things she’d like Mark to do better she said, “I feel like I’m always chasing him for one particular set of reports. Every week during our one-on-one meeting, I ask about it and every week he says he’ll forward it to me. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. I’d like him to be better at that.” Then, with some frustration, she said, “Mark’s a smart guy. Wouldn’t you think after all this time he’d get the message?” More
We all need powerful mentors. Dr. Lois Frankel is one of mine. I often provide clients with her international bestseller, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. I promote this book not merely because she references me and some of my coaching tips but because her counsel is insightful and practical. And it’s not only for women—we would all benefit if we could implement her advice.
A client recently asked if I knew any consultants with a particular expertise. A woman named Jenette leapt to mind. She was a perfect match. But I didn’t refer her. Here’s why.
I’d run into Jenette a few months earlier. We sat down to chat. As always, Jenette was engaging, entertaining and articulate. She told me about some exciting changes in her business and a new project she was involved in. Then she asked what was new with me. More
For the third session in a row I was hearing all about Stephanie. Carl, whom I’d been coaching for several months, just couldn’t contain himself about her. “The only reason she didn’t forward that email to me was so I would go into the staff meeting looking like an idiot.”
“Whoa,” I said, holding up my hand like a traffic cop, “you don’t know that. That story is completely made up.”
“You don’t know her,” he shot back. “She’s always playing one-up. And not just with me. She even pulled one of these stunts with Mike.” Mike was the division head. “He called her on it in front of everyone and she tried to explain it away! She wouldn’t even own it!” More
Roger is a scientist. When he became a team leader he knew he would need to develop his people skills. After observing him with his staff, I suggested we focus on his skills as a questioner. Being a scientist, he wanted to know why. I told him he often asked questions that stifled, rather than encouraged, interaction. He found this delightfully curious so we explored how to ask questions so he’d get the results he wanted.
One of the first things I did with Roger was to ask him to just sit back and react to a question of mine. I then said, “Do you have any questions?” More
“That’s it?” Kristina asked, clearly disappointed in me. A high performer used to taking on big challenges, she was reacting to the homework assignment I’d just given her at the end of our first coaching session. She clearly thought it was too easy. “Aren’t you going to give me something to do?”
“It might not seem like it,” I said, “but this is something to do.” More