A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Three executives—one landmine
Mitchell, a senior vice-president at a consumer products company, led a worldwide division of 1,200 people. Nine months before our coaching began, he’d rolled out a major initiative he had hoped would be a shot of adrenalin for the division. Instead, people had received it, he said, “with a big yawn.”
Ryan was a senior director at a software giant. Unlike Mitchell’s large, global audience, Ryan’s team was made up of just five engineers. In his year-end feedback, four of the five had raked him over the coals. They described him with words like, “uncaring,” “mean” and “brutal.” More
“What will people think of me?”
Rosa’s main coaching goal was to become more assertive.
Her boss, her teammates and her direct reports all wanted her to manage more boldly, share her wisdom sooner, and speak up when she saw things going awry. But Rosa was very uncomfortable asserting herself.
She was well aware that this hesitant part of herself caused her to miss opportunities. She often wished she could be more assertive, but, she said, as many coaching clients do, “This is the way I’ve always been.” More
Good news! Or is it?
Sarah saw her new situation as “good news / bad news.”
The good news was that Janet, her boss, had given a green light to a project Sarah had conceived of and proposed. The green light was a clear demonstration of Janet’s confidence in Sarah. Good news. More
Get coached or get out
Shelley had no choice about being coached. Her boss made it clear she was getting a coach and the coach was going to be me. Often that dynamic makes for a difficult beginning, but Shelley was eager; she knew she’d dug herself into a hole and was hoping I’d help her climb out.
Prashant’s coaching had gone well. The feedback I’d gathered about him at the beginning of our coaching had identified him as grumpy and argumentative. Now, six months later in a meeting with Jeannie, his boss, we were hearing nothing but good news. More
“High maintenance? Not me!”
Melissa got stuff done. No one disputed that. She had risen through the ranks by shouldering enormous amounts of work without complaint. Now, a vice-president for many years, she seemed to have stalled.
“I know they’re happy with my work,” she told me when we discussed her goals for the coaching. “They keep giving me bigger and bigger projects. I’ve been doing the work of a senior vice-president for a while now, but I can’t seem to get the title.” More
“Nice” won’t get the job done
When Gregory first called me, we knew about each other—I’d coached his boss off and on for several years—but we’d never worked together. Now he reached out to me, wondering if I could help him with a task force he was leading.
“This task force has the potential to change some of the ways our customers deal with us,” he told me. “So of course everyone’s got their eye on us, from the CEO on down. But we’re not getting anything done.” More
Creating the wrong impression
Andy was abrupt and people didn’t like it. Feedback about him included things like, “Talking to Andy is like shaking hands with a machine gun.” And, “I always brace myself before I call him. He sounds angry from ‘Hello!’”
An executive producer of movies, Andy always had at least one phone glued to his ear as he talked at people around the world. His projects were at varying stages of urgency, but none was without urgency. Urgency was a way of life with Andy. And all that urgency made him sound abrupt. More
The vocabulary of emotions
Jen coordinated large-scale events for her consumer products company. Twice a year she was responsible for putting on events for more than 5,000 attendees. The rest of the year she put on “small” events for “only” 500 or 1,000.
In her feedback report, people praised her gifts of coordination and tactical command. What they didn’t like so much was her style. There, they used words like “intolerant,” “inflexible,” and “harsh. More
Casual comments create chaos
Once again, executives were complaining about Sarah’s group.
A new line of products had been submitted to Sarah’s development group and the only thing that had come back was chaos.
During our conversation about coaching Sarah, her boss said, “I need her to get her group under control.”
When I asked him to tell me a little about her management style, he said, “Sarah’s a creative type. That’s why she’s so great at her job. And we love her. But creative types don’t always make the best managers, do they?” More
A Tale of Two Employees
Martha, a director at an entertainment company, was struggling to manage two of her direct reports. “I’m not sure why, Tom, but I’m not succeeding with either of them.”
First she told me about Don, a smart young fellow who’d started 18 months earlier.
Martha said Don consistently made errors when creating the reports that were his primary responsibility. “These aren’t little errors, Tom. He gets a major piece of data wrong at the start, then spends hours building on that flawed data. He should be able to catch that stuff by now.” More
Brilliant but blurred
Joel is Chief of Staff at a major metropolitan hospital. His feedback report revealed that, while people were very fond of him, sometimes they couldn’t follow what he was talking about. I’d experienced this myself; I’d often had to ask if he’d changed topics.
It’s not that Joel wasn’t smart. Quite the contrary. Joel was brilliant. I just couldn’t always follow his train of thought. And, it seemed, others were having the same problem.
So we discussed a tool I call frameworks. Frameworks are signposts you drop into place to tell your listeners where you’re headed. More