I recently sat in on a client’s staff meeting and then provided feedback immediately afterward.  Feedback has much more impact when things are fresh in our minds.  In the nine months that we have worked together, this client has made amazing progress.  His willingness to ask for and accept feedback, and then to change his behavior accordingly, has impressed his colleagues and me.

Less Can Be More

As I told my client when I gave him his first round of 360 feedback, most people overcorrect initially.  We want to assess our progress so we ask everyone for feedback on everything.  Once my client became more familiar with the process, he chose opportunities for feedback more carefully.

Getting What You Need

Not everyone is comfortable giving honest feedback, especially to their boss.  Colleagues may be concerned about retaliation for negative comments.  Here is how can you be sure you’re getting honest feedback:

· Choose wisely – consider who will be objective as well as constructive

· Ask politely – assure your colleague that you value their input and you won’t be defensive or “kill the messenger”

· Be specific – explain what you are trying to achieve, how and when you want feedback

· Follow up – check in regularly but not so often that you become a burden

· Reciprocate – offer to give your colleague both positive and constructive feedback

· Be grateful – say thank you for all feedback, and mean it

To assess your openness to feedback contact me cheryl@csbryan.com

 

 

Most of us recognize executive presence when we see it. We also recognize when we don’t see it. When successful executives hit a career obstacle, a lack of presence may be the issue.

I am coaching a laid back Ph. D whose boss wasn’t sure he was ready for a promotion. Feedback from my interviews with his colleagues indicated that he needed to speak up more in meetings to ensure that he was making a strong impression. Although my client didn’t want to state the obvious, he agreed to try speaking up sooner with constructive observations and found that he was able to project self-confidence rather than self-promotion.

Executive presence is conveyed by:

What you say
Knowing your subject is critical. Communicating expertise through intelligent questions is very effective. Concise remarks that reflect insight have a much greater impact than a lecture.

How you say it
Use a warm tone of voice to project confidence rather than arrogance. Persuasion doesn’t necessarily require volume, but you must speak loudly enough for everyone to hear.

What you don’t say
Posture is power. Whether standing or sitting, you want to command attention and confidence. Sit slightly forward in your chair and lean in without compromising personal space. Avoid distracting habits like drumming your fingers or clicking your pen.

You can change behaviors to enhance your executive presence and help you achieve your career goals. To explore how coaching can support you contact me cheryl@csbryan.com

 

 

Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Everyone has regrets about missed opportunities – a promotion we didn’t get, a job offer that didn’t come through, a talented team member who was recruited away. If we focus too much on the door that has closed behind us, we miss opportunities that are ahead.

How to focus on the open door

1. Play to your strengths

Using the decision making approach that works best for you will ensure that you are less likely to regret a decision. If you need time to analyze the options, do so. If you process information quickly, be confident in moving forward.

2. Accept the outcome of past decisions

Consider whether you could have done anything differently but recognize that you can’t change the past. Don’t waste too much energy on what could have been.

3. Focus on the future

Decide how you will apply what you have learned and translate that into action. How will you approach a similar situation the next time it arises?

Life is too short to dwell on closed doors. If you are having difficulty focusing on new opportunities, contact me cheryl@csbryan.com

 

 

As a successful leader, you may think you have all the mentors you need.  While I encourage my clients to take advantage of internal advisors, I also recommend putting together a personal board of directors from outside your current organization.  Like external coaches, outside directors have no agenda but yours.

What is the value?

Imagine this scenario: you have a tough decision to make about the strategic direction of your business.  You have done the analysis and sought input from trusted internal colleagues, but you could really use a safe sounding board.  You call your personal board members and give them a brief overview of the issues and your conclusions.  Their suggestions give you valuable perspective because you know they are objective.

Who can help?

In order to get the most balanced viewpoint, I recommend that you consider at least two successful professionals with similar and two with different expertise and experience than your own. You want people who will give you constructive feedback and who are willing to invest time in understanding your business issues.  Objectivity is critical, so close friends may not be the best choice.

How should you ask?

Explain what you want from your directors, how often you expect to meet or talk and how long you want them to serve on your personal board. Although personal board members aren’t typically paid, consider what you can do for them. Recommending them to potential customers or passing on business leads is always appreciated.

How Often Should We Meet?

If possible, get all your directors together in person or by conference call at least once a year to review your business plan and take advantage of their collective wisdom.  I suggest talking with individual board members at least quarterly and more often as needed.  Send any relevant information in advance and be prepared with a succinct summary of the issues and your questions.

Keep Them Informed

Let your directors know what you decide to do and the results you achieved.  Be sure to thank them for their input.

I invite you to identify potential candidates for your personal board of directors and talk with them about how they can be a part of your career success.

 

 

Do you have any trouble springing forward when the time changes?  It is a challenge for most of us to adjust to that kind of change.   I see many clients struggling to respond with resilience, especially to changes over which they feel they have no control.  In a corporate culture that values mental toughness, it can be perceived as whining if we voice concerns about a reorganization or a new assignment.

I have been working with a client who was frustrated by organizational changes.  He felt ambushed since he wasn’t involved in the decisions and was struggling to get past his resentment.  This is the approach we used:

  • Don’t take it personally – take yourself out of the equation and look at it from the perspective of others.  What are the possible reasons that you weren’t consulted on the decisions?
  • Manage your response – assess your emotional reaction and then decide how to respond rationally.
  • Spring forward with resilience – create motivation for yourself by taking action.  Once you do something to move forward you will be less likely to hold on to your resistance to the change.

Contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com to explore how you can spring forward.

 

 

What are the differences between leading from your head, your gut and your heart?

What Got You Here

Many of my clients are technically oriented leaders in operations, finance, accounting and IT. They were trained to trust their intellect and have typically been rewarded for doing so. Somewhere along the career path, they were advised to “trust their gut.” It takes a great deal of confidence for an intellectual to make that leap, but it is part of progressing to the executive level. Senior executives must analyze information at a high level and make decisions that have major impact on the business and employees.

Won’t Get You There

I invite you to consider that the next evolution at the executive level is trusting your heart. You can rely on your intellect and your gut only to a point, and then you have to tap into the emotional realm. If you ignore that feeling of regret or sadness when you have to cut staff, it makes you less human. True leaders acknowledge their feelings while making the tough decisions. Trusting your heart will also enable you to know what motivates your team. More than money and title, they likely want to have a purpose, feel valued and contribute to the greater good.

How will you go beyond leading from your head and your gut to leading from your heart?