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

Performance Reviews

Six lessons for writing effective performance reviews.

Reviewer, calm thyself

Throughout our coaching, Teri had been asking for help managing Ken. She experienced him as defensive and emotional. Now she had to deliver his year-end review—an event she found awkward even with the easiest of her direct reports.

Teri showed me the draft she’d written for Ken’s review. There were two sections. The first section asked the boss and the employee for a ranking (Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, etc.) on six competencies. The second section asked for written comments from the boss and employee on “Strengths” and “Areas for Development.” More

Leading Teams

A road map for getting your team moving in the same direction.

Team members out of sync

Arturo had been leading 40 risk management professionals for about a year when he asked if I would meet with him privately. I’d been coaching one of his direct reports for five months and assumed we were going to discuss the coaching. I was wrong.

“I’ve been saying I want our group to be ‘world class’ since the day I got here, but my direct reports are all over the map. And a lot of their people are still doing what they were doing when Melanie was leading the group,” he said, referring to his predecessor. “I feel like I can’t get this group moving in the same direction.” More

Facilitating Open Dialogue

Tips and techniques for the extremely difficult task of getting people to speak openly in public forums—or in private!

Resistance is the norm

Soraya leads a team of programmers who work at client sites for weeks at a time. When her vice-president asked for feedback from the clients, she had only a few anecdotes. He wanted hard data.

Soraya and her team decided to create focus groups. The goal would be to bring clients together and get them to talk openly about their experiences.

When all the major clients agreed to attend, she was delighted. Then her heart sank when she realized that no one on her team—including herself!—had a clue how to get people to talk openly with other people present, especially when there might be some negative feedback. More

Smiling—The Look of Leadership

Your smile can be a credibility builder or a credibility killer. How is your smile working for you?

Two smiles, two outcomes

Gabriella often says she has the best job in the whole company—and she’s quick to add that hers is a global company of more than twenty thousand people! She talks about lives changed because of the work she gets to do. She talks about the great performance of her team. She talks about attending international conferences with world leaders where she promotes her group’s unique innovation.

Amazingly, she never sounds like she’s bragging. Quite the contrary. She wins over virtually everyone she talks with because while she tells her story, she smiles in a way that is authentic and completely unforced. More

Leading Change

Navigating the minefield of change is fraught with danger. Here's your road map through change's treacherous terrain.

An all-hands rebellion

Marta’s coaching had been over for almost a year when she called me with a bit of panic in her voice. “I’ve got a full-blown rebellion on my hands, Tom,” she told me.

The day before, at an all-hands meeting, she had announced a re-structuring of three of her groups. She’d expected some resistance but what she got was anger and shouting. She’d lost control of the room and people had left in a fury.

“We had a communications strategy, Tom,” she said a bit defensively. “We all thought announcing the new structure in a meeting was the way to go. I don’t know what went wrong.” More

Resolving Conflict

Three actions, plus three behaviors, to help warring factions to lay down their arms and get back to work.

Two teams at war

Halfway through Jean-Claude’s coaching engagement, I was on the phone with his boss, Cary. My intention was to give him a brief update on the coaching. Much to my surprise, I heard Cary thanking me for helping Jean-Claude resolve the long-standing antagonism between the data management group that Jean-Claude led and the accounting group.

“The rift between those groups started long before Jean-Claude got here,” Cary said. “I never imagined this would be one of the outcomes of the coaching.” More

The Power of PowerPoint

EIght tips to get PowerPoint working for you instead of against you.

The mixed blessing of PowerPoint

Toward the middle of our coaching engagement, Adrienne earned the rare opportunity to present her group’s achievements to the CEO’s staff meeting. She was understandably nervous and wanted my help polishing her style.

I brought my video feedback gear to our session but we didn’t end up using it; the moment she showed me her slides I felt we had more important work to do.

PowerPoint is just a piece of software; intrinsically it is neither good nor bad. But too often it blurs, rather than clarifies, our messages and prompts behaviors we would never otherwise display. More

Intimacy in Business: Setting Boundaries

The ability to create a sense of intimacy in the workplace leads to deep and long-lasting trust. And it’s not about being personal or singing Kumbaya!

A powerful model for intimacy

Evan felt lucky to have had Trish as his mentor. “I’ve never seen anyone build relationships as fast as she can,” he told me. “She can read a room in the first minute or two and then say just the right thing to turn people into raving fans. It’s uncanny.”

Evan had been studying with a master, but now Trish was moving on to run an international division. As one of her final acts, she asked me to help Evan develop better people skills. More

Stop Giving Away Your Secrets

Transparency is great in business—except when you tip your hand and reveal thoughts and feelings that are better kept to yourself.

“Play Better Poker”

Darcie was in line to become the CFO’s heir apparent. Only one thing stood in the way of her promotion: she couldn’t contain herself when people said something she perceived as “stupid.” Her eye rolls and little snorts of derision were so well known, department members had taken to saying they’d “gotten a Darcie” whenever she—or anyone else!—blew off one of their ideas.

When she asked if I could help, I told her I thought I could. “Do you want to know the secret?” I asked. She assured me she did. More

Making Stories Soar

Stories stick with people long after facts and figures fade. The ability to tell a compelling business story is a crucial part of The Look & Sound of Leadership.

Stories soar when you follow two rules

Varena keeps more detailed information in her head on a daily basis than I can cram into my brain in a year. And she cites it with precision but without pretention. She’s also smart enough to know that all those facts don’t motivate people.

Discussing her upcoming off-site, she told me about a new initiative she was going to roll out. “I’ve got lots of business reasons why this is a good idea, but I need something more.” She stopped and smiled at me. We both knew where she was headed; we’d talked about it before. “All right already, Tom, I need a story and you know I can’t tell one.” More

Leadership and Listening

Two listening behaviors that will get different results and foster collaboration.

Unconscious hijacking

Donald had the CEO courting him for almost a year before he came on board as head of global operations. Fourteen months later, most of his initiatives had stalled and the executive team that had expected so much from him had mostly turned against him.

One comment from a group leader in Hong Kong epitomized Donald’s feedback: “When Donald was here on his ‘world-wide listening tour,’ we were the only ones doing any listening.” More

Building Rapport

Rapport is easy when styles match each other, but how do you build rapport when there's a mismatch of styles?

A grave mismatch of styles

Marlena, an experienced entertainment executive, was definitely not getting the results she wanted. She’d been put in charge of a talented group of animators, but, although she was personable and energetic, she couldn’t seem to build relationships with them. They weren’t merely avoiding her, they were going around her to her boss and complaining about her loudly.

The situation crystallized for me one day on our way to a conference room. Walking toward us was a bearded man wearing a beret and a scarf. He had the slightly awkward gait and downward gaze of the powerfully introverted. More

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

Fantastic For Any Leader. I have found these podcasts to be excellent! I have read MANY books on leadership and this is some good advice. I have found Tom’s perspective on leadership refreshing & challenging. Thanks SO much.

Mbreems
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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!

Major Jason
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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

spaflip
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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!

Cmvnau
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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

Studentandteacher
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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.

Cyralston
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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.

Suijeneris
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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.”

ImESP
Podcast subscriber

What people say about Essential Communications Podcast/Tips:

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.

_SWW_
Podcast subscriber
css.php