A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Behaviors create “style”
When Lawrence was passed over for promotion to vice-president, the feedback was clear: his expertise was top-notch; his executive presence was not. “He just doesn’t feel like one of our vice-presidents,” the CEO told me.
Lawrence vowed that by the end of the coaching he’d look more vice-presidential than any of the vice-presidents. With lips thinned by determination, he asked, “What do I need to do to ‘feel’ like a VP?” I answered by giving him the following homework. More
Invisibility only works in sci-fi
“Does she even know how smart she is? She really needs to start speaking up so we can get the benefit of what she knows.” That was typical of the feedback about Maureen.
When I asked her what was holding her back from contributing more, she told me she’d always been shy about speaking up. “My folks warned all of us not to be too aggressive. I think the result was that I just stopped talking altogether.” More
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
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!”
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
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
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
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
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
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