A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Teresa led a global team that the senior leaders at headquarters rarely saw. When another round of lay-offs was announced she feared her team would be decimated. But Teresa fought valiantly for her team. She did pretty well, too: her team only lost two members.
But when I saw her she was anything but happy. The team’s next conference call was two days away and she was dreading it. More
The two qualities all compelling speakers share
During a recent presentation skills training, the participants received a lesson I couldn’t have scripted. A young business development executive presented with a highly energized style. He spoke at a high rate of words per minute, used broad, animated gestures and leaned towards us while speaking.
After we watched his video and I gave him feedback, the next presenter, a senior technology guru, got up. He spoke in a professional manner while leisurely strolling back and forth, punctuating his words with small rhythmic gestures. More
Bad behavior went unmanaged for a good reason
Managing Ted was a nightmare for Bryan. Every day seemed to bring another complaint about Ted’s inappropriate behavior. Even people two and three levels above Bryan were complaining. His inability to rein Ted in was making Bryan look ineffectual as a leader.
The problem was that Ted was exceptionally gifted. And everyone knew it. More
Katarina had a meteoric rise through the executive ranks of Hollywood. She was a division president at one of the major studios before her fortieth birthday. Originally she’d engaged me to help her conquer her life-long fear of public speaking. Being smart and motivated, she mastered her nervousness in fairly short order. Then our work turned to fine-tuning her executive presence. A wonderful opportunity presented itself. She was to present an industry-wide initiative at an international conference in Europe with masses of press and industry-watchers in attendance. “Now that I’m not so worried about my nerves, I want to be sure I come off the way I want to come off,” she told me. Without knowing it, Katarina had hit on a core exercise I use to help people be perceived in the workplace the way they want to be perceived. More
Are your answers too long for your listeners?
As head of pediatrics for a major metropolitan hospital, Robert believed fiercely in being precise with his language. “People have to know exactly what I mean. And I have to say exactly what I mean. There is no margin for error here.”
But feedback from people in the hospital was clear: they couldn’t stay focused on what Robert was saying because of his habit of answering simple questions with endless expositions. His boss said to me, “I dread asking him a question because half an hour later he’s still talking and I don’t have a clue what he’s telling me.” More
Laurie appeared to have a golden life. She was heir to a family fortune going back three generations and was graced with an excess of brilliance and beauty. Her unassuming, down-to-earth air gave no clue to all the privileges she had or to the fact that she was running the family’s philanthropic foundation.
My first exposure to Laurie had been on the phone when she called to inquire about coaching. I asked what she was looking for and she’d replied, “I know that people like me—and I like them!—but I just get the wobbles when I’m in front of folks. And I’m in front of folks all the time these days. It’s not doing me or my foundation any good.” More
Roland made no bones about the fact that he hated our coaching. He introduced me to people on his staff as his torturer, his devil, The Grand Pest, and Annoyer Extraordinaire. But he never canceled an appointment or showed up one minute late. Like an accident survivor committed to painful physical therapy, Roland endured me like a dose of foul medicine.
Roland’s attitude didn’t surprise me. A rising superstar in his organization, he wasn’t used to feeling incompetent, but the work we were doing together was making him feel just that. However I also noticed that Roland often left our workouts exhilarated. More
On a recent conference call, a division president and vice-president were considering whether coaching would help a senior employee named Martin who repeatedly mangled his internal and external relationships. Because Martin had significant revenue generating responsibilities, they were heavily invested in his success.
For twenty minutes the executives related the various strategies they’d used to try to improve Martin’s performance. After each anecdote they’d add a comment like, “But he just doesn’t get it” or “He’s heard this a thousand times” or “It doesn’t seem to matter what we do, he never changes.” More
Fanula loved her role as second-in-command to the division president. As the public face of her boss’s policies, Fanula got to put her innate Irish love of language and her gift with people on full display.
She told me her goal for our coaching was to buff up her public speaking skills. When I asked what she thought was wrong she shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong. In fact I’m just fine, but ‘fine’ isn’t good enough for my position. I want to be terrific.” More
Arianna and I had been working together for four months when a terrific opportunity opened up: her company was creating a cross-functional team to develop three new products that would carry it into the next decade. We both felt she deserved to be on the team, but would the selection committee think she was ready for such a high-profile role?
Arianna’s lack of visibility was the major obstacle we were working to overcome in her coaching. This new opportunity would test everything she and I had been working on. More
Myra is chief operating officer at a firm that creates massive art installations. She was hired to bring order to what had been a freewheeling artistic organization that repeatedly ran over budget and behind schedule.
During our first coaching session Myra asked if I could help her with Tim, the CFO. “Every time I tell him an idea,” Myra said, “he ends up yelling that I’m ruining the company’s spirit and he storms out. The next day, he acts like nothing happened and says my idea’s great.” More
Todd, Chief Information Officer at an international food distributor, had coaching goals that were absolutely clear. His boss, Richard, the CEO, said plainly, “Get him to talk shorter. He’s driving me nuts. If he can’t stop overtalking he’s going to have to find some place else to work!”
I knew Richard was exaggerating only a little. Being concise is a critically important skill—and extremely difficult to accomplish. As proof, I need only look at my clients’ coaching goals over the past fifteen years: the need to be more concise is one of the top five. And these aren’t the goals of budding young professionals; these are goals of extremely successful senior leaders in virtually every industry. They just can’t stop talking. What’s going on? More
About three months into our coaching engagement, David transferred divisions. His boss, Joanna, had initiated his coaching because she often felt he was overly cautious. David’s expertise was unique and she’d wanted him to apply it more independently and assertively.
Now his new boss, Jay, was coming down hard on him, repeatedly reining him in. Jay’s messages were “Check with me” and “Include the group” and “Don’t be a rogue.” More
Vickie’s boss was eager to promote her. But because she performed poorly in front of senior leaders, her boss knew the review committee wouldn’t approve her promotion.
I witnessed her self-defeating behavior first hand one day as we walked from her office to a conference room. A pleasant-looking fellow came around a corner and stopped to say hello. As Vickie performed the introductions, her bright, engaging self began fading: her chin lowered, her shoulders rounded and her eyes dropped to the ground, flicking to our faces only briefly. If I’d ever questioned whether Vickie’s issue was real, I had my answer. More
Stan didn’t intend to be intimidating. But I didn’t know that when I received a call from his secretary asking me for an hour-long meeting. As the senior sales executive for a worldwide technology firm he led an organization of several hundred people. I’d coached a score of his senior staffers and all but one talked about him as unapproachable and intimidating.
Walking into his office the morning of the meeting, I felt myself strapping on my heaviest mental armor. Stan greeted me not warmly but with the strained cordiality of the severely introverted. As we talked, my impression of him transformed from The-Great-and-Powerful-Stan to a rather awkward middle-aged guy whom my parents might have called a nebbish. More
Marilyn, heir apparent to the division director, told me she went to the break room earlier that day to get a drink. A few people stood together chatting. She skirted them and got out as fast as she could so they wouldn’t engage her. Then with a sigh of disgust she said, “If I’m going to be division director I’ve got to learn to chat. But, uh! I hate it!”
Having coached dozens of highly analytical experts who felt incompetent at chatting, I assured her it’s a learned skill—and not all that hard to learn! More
James’s expertise was so unique, so prized, that Larry, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, personally recruited him. James came on board as a star. Less than two years later, Larry had lost almost all confidence in James.
“Every time he talks,” Larry said to me, “he stammers and hems and haws to the point where I’m not sure he knows anything at all any more. He’s either got to start showing up like the executive we’re paying him to be or get out of the way so someone else can do the job.” More