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

Leadership and Self-Deception

Our self-limiting behaviors are often invisible to ourselves but stand in bold relief to others.

Hiding in plain sight

“This isn’t rocket science!” is not a phrase you can use around Yolanda. The holder of two masters degrees and a PhD, she is a rocket scientist. Her upbringing in Puerto Rico was, she says, “old-fashioned.” She learned to respect her elders and to be humble about her accomplishments. Those values were great preparation for her years in the Air Force; the hierarchy and structure suited her well. More

Answering Essay Questions

Avoid a long-winded ramble with this three-step model

Essay questions are a trap

In the Executive Coaching Tip “Sorting & Labeling,” you read about Joseph. Like many technical experts, he struggles to give clear, concise summaries of complex information. The Sorting & Labeling tool is helping him.

At the beginning of a recent coaching session, I asked him, “How’s it going with the execs during your weekly update?”

Seven minutes into his long, rambling answer, I finally held up my hand in surrender. He looked startled—he’d been deep in his own thoughts—then looked a little sheepish. “Oh. I did it again, didn’t I?” More

“I Hate Politics!”

Hating politics puts you out of the game thats being played around you.

“I hate politics!”

I was hired to groom Danielle for a promotion. Less than a week after our first coaching session, the head of her division, who had been a fixture for a dozen years, announced he was leaving for another opportunity. Overnight, every senior leader in the division, including Danielle, was thrown into a major game of musical chairs. Some people would zoom upward while others would stay where they were.

Danielle felt this was the perfect opportunity for her to snag her promotion. I agreed it well might be. I began to ask Danielle about the details of her relationships with each of the most senior players in the division. After a bit, Danielle’s shoulders slumped and she muttered, “Ugh! I hate politics.” More


A crucial skill even if you're in your job for life -- which you're not!

Dig your well before you’re thirsty

Years ago, when the economy was still expanding, I coached a woman named Stephanie. She’d worked for the same company since graduating college and, by the time I met her, was in line to become a director. She was concerned that, having worked at only that one company, she wasn’t as worldly as her peers.

Feeling her concern might have merit, I gave her a rule of thumb: you should spend five percent of your work hours every month looking for your next job—even if you never take another job! Why? When you network skillfully, you A) broaden your professional horizons, B) become able to realistically assess the position you have, and C) build networks that make you a more valuable employee. More

Sorting and Labeling

The communication tool that will set you above the rest

Communicating without making connections

Joseph is overseeing the development of a multi-billion dollar piece of hardware. As project manager, he’s responsible for keeping this seven-year enterprise on schedule and on budget.

Every week he delivers a status report to the division executives. And he’s driving them crazy.

Joseph has a deep knowledge of the hardware and understands how all the different elements interconnect. But he’s stumbling badly with the executives because he’s not making those connections clear to them. More

I Talk Too Fast!

What happens in our brains when someone talks "too fast"

You can’t talk too fast

At the beginning of my Presentation Skills Coaching course, I ask participants to identify two presentation behaviors: one they think they do well and one they think they do poorly. On the “needs improvement” side, people frequently list: “I talk too fast.”

My contention is that it’s not physically possible to talk faster than our brains can compute. Here are some statistics that support my point. More

Positive Opposites

Dichotomies are great learning tools -- when they're positive!

A very public failure

Ellie felt like she’d been shot between the eyes.

For six grueling weeks she’d prepped a presentation she would make to the senior execs. She’d painstakingly built a deck of forty-two slides.

During the presentation, the execs began to challenge her at slide four. By slide six they were clearly angry with her. At slide eight they pulled her plug and kicked her out of the room. More

Choosing Persistence

Two stories to fuel persistence during hard times

Fears and frustrations

Last fall, in the middle of our coaching engagement, Gavon got laid off. I told him I’d be happy to re-engage with him any time it would be helpful. A few weeks ago he got back in touch. He was still unemployed.

“I’ve been on a bunch of interviews,” he told me. “What’s freaking me out is the anxiety I’m having. I wasn’t anxious before, but since I’m not landing any jobs, I’m beginning to stress about whether I’m as good at interviewing as I think I am. More

A Difficult Conversation

Discussing touchy, even explosive, situations

An inquiry via email

In response to last month’s Executive Coaching Tip, I got the following email from a guy named Guy:

My boss constantly corrects me and undermines me in meetings. It’s not that she says I’m wrong, exactly, but she makes it clear we have different styles and that my style is worse than hers. How do I approach her about this?

Guy’s situation feels like many others I’ve coached, so my five-step recommendation to him is this month’s Coaching Tip. I wrote: More

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Hold yourself accountable for what comes out of your mouth.

Trust erodes by over-promising

At the end of our second session, Sharon told me she’d have her assistant call me to schedule our next appointment. When I hadn’t heard from anyone a week later, I called the assistant myself and we set up the next coaching session.

Personally, I experienced Sharon as a kind person who was eager to please others. But as her coach I was concerned that her desire to please had taken her into dangerous waters: she was eroding trust by agreeing to more than she could deliver. Her feedback had reflected that. One person summed it up with two words and an exclamation point: “Stop over-promising!” More

Focus in the Face of Distractions

Results are important and so is how they're achieved

Distractions affect performance
Marc’s frustration was understandable. He’d been trying to get support for a project since long before our coaching began. In fact, he’d asked for the coaching to learn influencing skills, hoping that would help him generate traction for the project.

The truth was he’d actually moved the ball quite far down the field already: two people had been assigned to the project and a cross-functional team had begun to lay the foundation for the work that would come. But he wasn’t across the goal line yet and he was getting impatient attending endless meetings to drum up support. What worried him wasn’t just that he was feeling impatient, but that he was acting impatiently in those meetings. Worrying about his impatience had become a distraction. More

Elevator Speeches

Create crisp executive summaries that last no longer than an elevator ride

Weston was disgusted with himself. “Man, did I miss a great opportunity,” he said in the first minutes of our coaching session. “I ran into Brad, the division president, on my way to the parking lot on Monday. For a change he actually had a minute to chat. So first we were talking about our weekends. But then he asked me about the Chandler project and I started babbling like a junior intern. I sure didn’t sound like the project lead! It was horrible.”

Weston knew he’d had an opportunity to give the president an “elevator speech” (a crisp executive summary that lasts no longer than an elevator ride) but because he was unprepared his comments were anything but crisp. More

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My favorite podcast ever! The Look & Sound of Leadership is amazing.

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Keep Coming Back. I use these coaching tips for my sales and marketing team. I re-listen to these multiple times and still pick up new things the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time through. Very well done.”

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Powerful Material in easy to digest segments. Best biz/leadership podcast on the net thus far.”

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Amazing podcast! Thank you Tom for providing such a WONDERFUL podcast. It is short, well communicated (of course!) and has helped me IMMENSELY in work and personal life.

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A wealth of knowledge. In preparation for a big promotion I started listening to various podcasts on leadership. This one stood out as the best. It gives clear, easy to understand advice with tools I could apply immediately! I love this podcast!

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Immensely useful! Tom Henschel’s stories and advice helped me become a much better manager… I listen to each as it comes out and still go back to many of the earlier podcasts as well.

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Outstanding executive coaching … for FREE. I greatly appreciate his bottom line up front approach. Some competitors take 30 – 40 minutes to get to the point. Keep up the great work!

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Short, Simple and Powerful. Easily some of the best coaching available on the internet. I’ve seen a real improvement in my ability to lead and manage as a result of incorporating these tips into my regular communication.

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