A free, searchable archive of Executive Coaching Tips to help you be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived.
Bruce, the local head of IT for a worldwide organization, was giving me feedback about two managers he wanted to groom for promotion. Here’s what he said about the first manager.
“She’s great with her group. And she’s a creative thinker. But when she reports to me she goes on forever and piles on all this irrelevant information. Sometimes I get really impatient listening to her.” More
At 31, with her MBA under her belt, Patricia was doing well. In the male-dominated world of warehouse management, she was a team leader doing systems installations.
She also had some challenges. She was barely 5’4″ and looked like a high school cheerleader. “People always call me ‘perky’ and I hate it,” she said. “That’s why I went from Patty to Patricia but I still get treated like a little girl.” More
William is President of International Finance for a worldwide financial organization. He was proud to tell me he’d been invited by his alma mater to give the keynote address at a prestigious Alumni Career Forum.
While brainstorming ideas for the speech, William said he’d like to talk about a professor who’d had a profound impact on him. As he told me about this influential man, William choked up with emotion. Being highly analytical and used to having control over his emotions, this surprised and unsettled him; he quickly changed the subject. Later in the session he mentioned this professor again, and again his throat constricted and his voice quavered. He clamped down and said, “Well, I guess I won’t be talking about that!” When I asked why not, he said, “Well, I certainly don’t want to get choked up in front of a thousand alumni.” More
Richard had been CFO at a defense contracting company for four years when I met him. He was technically gifted, maintained strong relationships and was fairly expressive and intuitive. This guy was clearly succeeding. He wanted to work with me because he felt he wasn’t a very strong presenter.
When I asked him to tell me about presenters he liked, he easily thought of three. When I asked him to identify specific behaviors that made those presenters powerful, he was amazingly articulate about what each one did to be effective. More
I was invited to wait for the CFO in her office. The goal of my coaching, according to the newly installed CEO, was to “warm her up.”
Just standing in her office, having not met her yet, I understood why she needed warming up. There wasn’t one personal item in the entire office. Not a picture that wasn’t from the corporate art bin, not a diploma, not even a book that wasn’t a work binder. The room was telling me that the person who worked here was well defended and unavailable. More
Michael is an industry leader. He has owned his own companies and been a Chief Officer twice. He’s now a division president at what he says is the best company he’s ever worked for. And his CEO just gave him a piece of feedback which shook him deeply.
“I’ve been leading companies for over fifteen years,” he said looking out his window. “Where has this feedback been? Has everyone known it and never told me?”
“Most likely,” I said quietly. More
- A Ph.D. scientist was given the leadership of a global research team. He’d built his career on his superior intellect and he rightly saw this assignment as a reward for his many scientific contributions. Within a year he was removed from the position because he’d damaged so many relationships with people on his team.
- A highly ethical young man worked for a humble leader. The leader’s humility appealed to the young man so much that he consciously developed the attribute in himself. Later, having achieved the position of division president, his CEO told him he didn’t inspire confidence or appear presidential.
- A rising star in a corporate communications department prided herself on her verbal acuity and ability to think on her feet. Her gifts allowed her to make presentations without preparation or rehearsal. In her performance review she was told that people experienced her as glib and intellectually lightweight.
Five Quick Tips for Creating Clarity
The Big Idea: Speak Simple.
As leaders we often feel the need to impress our listeners. We want to sound expert. Unfortunately, the impulse to impress often results in behaviors that are the opposite of The Look & Sound of Leadership™. Pay particular attention to the following tips if you: More
In the early days of the internet a theme park’s Senior Director of IT was proposing a new line of service. Getting approval was critical for him and his group. His people were horrified when he was in and out of the room in less than fifteen minutes; they were convinced he’d fumbled the ball. Their collective jaws dropped when approval came back within the hour.
How did he clinch the deal? He told a story. More
A client recently got some tough feedback from his four-year-old daughter in the form of a question. While absorbed in a report from work, his little girl asked, “Daddy, why are you angry?”
One reason I like this guy is because he’s open to feedback. He responded by asking, “Do you think I’m angry?”
“Well,” she said without hesitation, “you look angry.” More