If you’ve ever been on a ranch, you’ve probably seen a cattle panel (check out the picture above). Not something you want to run into, especially head first.  That’s what I did recently when there were several panels in the bed of my husband’s truck, at just my height.  I jumped out of my side of the truck and was headed around the back when, bam!  A sharp corner of the panel banged my forehead and jammed into my sunglasses.  I was lucky that I only ended up with a few scrapes and bruises.

Although you may assume that I’m generally clumsy (no comment), I would tell you that this happened because:

  • I was looking at the ground
  • I forgot the panel was there
  • I was in a hurry

After I had some time to reflect on my good fortune, I asked myself if there were any lessons to be learned that might apply to my work with leaders and teams, such as:

  • Are we missing a signal that we aren’t communicating effectively with someone because we aren’t looking for it?
  • Are we failing to change a non-productive behavior because we forget about the negative impact it has?
  • Have we overlooked an opportunity to create an effective team environment because we are in a hurry to get results?

I invite you to raise your head and look around at the things you may be missing that could derail your or your team.  If you need someone to help you figure out how to avoid the bumps and bruises, contact me

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



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



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.