• EQ,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Personal Brand,  Success Strategy

    You were given Feedback to Improve your Executive Presence – What do you do now?

    The other day a senior leader contacted me to hire as his coach. His LinkedIn Profile was immaculate – multiple graduate degrees from top-notch schools, a strong track record of professional work in his relevant field. He was given feedback to improve his Executive Presence (EP). However, he didn’t know what that entitles. After further conversation, we found out that in meetings with senior leadership, his challenge was thinking on his feet and being clear and concise in his delivery. Here is an example from another client; let us call him Joe. Joe was doing a presentation on the next direction of their product. Towards the middle, his VP came…

  • Goats blocking the street : Image by Dennis Larsen from Pixabay
    Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Self-leadership

    Career Satisfaction: What Is In Your Way?

    “Not enough time,” “Not enough support from others,” “Lack of ideas” topped the list for my survey question: “What is in your way of a more satisfying career?”  It would have been great if somehow these external factors of time and support were resolved so you and I could flourish. But alas, as said by the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “We cannot (always) choose our external circumstances…”. In algebra, we learned that we need to work on the variable part if something is constant. Epictetus added, “…but we can always choose how we respond to them.”  Our choice to respond is the variable part! You may wonder what makes Epictetus the…

  • Career satisfaction,  Leadership,  Success Strategy,  Time Management

    Want to Take Your Career to the Next Level? Manage Your Attention Wisely

    “I don’t have the time to pause and think; my days are filled with back-to-back meetings. When someone asks me a question, I tell them what I know and go to my next meeting. I feel like I am fire-fighting”. Adrian, a senior director of a Fortune 100 company, told me this during our recent conversation. He is not alone. If you are even moderately successful, back-to-back meetings are a reality of your life. The more damaging part is that this constant demand for our attention reduces our ability to deep thinking. As a result, we end up exhausted, creating the same old results we did the last year. There…

  • Authenticity, a bird showing its colors - Image by wasi1370 from Pixabay
    Career satisfaction,  Communication,  Executive Presence,  Happiness,  Leadership,  Personal Brand,  Self-leadership

    Is “Authenticity” Backfiring On You? Here Is Why

    Theresa, a senior developer in a tech firm, said that their management encouraged them to be authentic. It prompted her to be passionately sharing some of her opinions. There was only one problem: others saw it as negativity bias, resulting in some stern feedback from his manager. Prakash, a senior Director, was frustrated with his team’s progress and didn’t hide it during the team meeting. It cost him a promotion. Jim, a business development manager, said that he felt lonely to be constantly fighting for the right thing when others were too comfortable tolerating the mediocre decisions the team was making. All three stories have one thing in common. They…

  • Applying Software Engineering Concepts in Coaching
    Leadership,  Neuroscience,  productivity,  Stress Management,  Success Strategy

    Applying Software Engineering Concepts in Professional Growth

    Last week, I talked to a client who has a Ph.D. in Computer Science and works on a cutting-edge research project for one of the topmost tech companies. He has been feeling overwhelmed with his task list that keeps growing every day and has sophisticated interdependencies. I knew that one way to reduce his “overwhelm” state was to bring him to his strengths. I asked him to describe the tasks as a data structure (software developers store data in different data structures). It made him pause and think. I noticed his energy shifted eventually to a more focused state as he started talking about whether it should be a tree…

  • Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Self-leadership,  Stress Management,  Success Strategy

    A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution

    Conflict is a common issue my clients face in their workplace. I found this talk, A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution by Diane Musho Hamilton, insightful to manage such situations.  Here are my takeaways from it. Our primitive brain sees conflict as a threat. When the stake is high, we get stressed, the Amygdala hijacks the higher brain, our body gets ready for a fight, flight, or becomes frozen. Some of the usual body signals are elevated heartbeat, stiff neck, tight jaw, etc.  In such a situation, pause the thinking brain (usually negative spiral of thoughts) and spend some time noticing the body sensation and be with it.  Some mindful breathing,…

  • Brainstorming Photo by MING Labs on Unsplash
    Communication,  EQ,  Executive Presence,  productivity

    Brainstorming? Focus On 10% Right

    As engineers and tech professionals, we are rewarded for our analytical skills in finding code defects and design issues early on. Often we keep on applying this same trait with the people we work with. When we hear an idea, we find the possible shortcomings and “defects” and point those out. With all good intentions, we assume that it will be efficient if we say it sooner, as it will save time for everyone. The downside of this approach is we are dealing with people who have emotions and egos. By shooting down someone’s idea, we hurt their feelings – they feel discouraged and unappreciated. Eventually, we lose their engagement…

  • A Resting Dog - Image by Pitsch from Pixabay
    Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  productivity,  Self-leadership,  Stress Management,  Success Strategy

    Want To Be Productive? Start With Doing Nothing (Guest post)

    “I am busy all day, trying to complete my to-do list before calling it a day. Yet, some things always remain undone, and, worse still, new things pop up. I go to bed tired, with the dissatisfaction that I couldn’t do what I set out to during the day.” These were Sami’s words as I listened to him in a quiet coffee shop. I am sure it rings a bell with many of you, especially those working at large corporates and juggling family and work. Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie “Modern Times” is all about Sami. And perhaps you, too. In this movie, the protagonist was working hard at an ever-accelerating…

  • Career satisfaction,  EQ,  Happiness,  Leadership,  Success Strategy

    Reactivity To Thoughtfulness – A Corporate Leader’s Journey

    “He doesn’t work well with others.” “He has issues dealing with bad news.” “He is a star performer, but he is lacking executive presence.”  These are some of the typical “pain points” in organizations. Leaders often spend a lot of time, energy, and money on these symptoms, throw expensive training with minimal sustainable impact. My experience says these are mostly symptoms; a coach approach can help uncover and address the underlying issues to create a long-lasting positive change. Here is the story of a mid-level manager at a large tech organization. Let’s call him Peter. Peter’s issue was poor conflict management. He had a hard time letting go. Hearing the story…

  • A cat is being pampered- Photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash
    Happiness,  Self-leadership,  Stress Management,  Work Culture

    What Gets in the Way of Guilt Free Self-Care?

    “Finish your homework before you play “ – Our parents’ well-meaning advice worked well in our early days, but as adults, it is backfiring. These days, most of our work is a continuous process and hardly is completed on a given workday. We tend to postpone all the play (self-care) until we finish the work. We mistakenly think that the completion of the work and the recognition will be enough to keep us going. But the truth is quite the opposite.  Regular play (self-care) helps us be at our optimal condition; it builds the muscles for us to face the challenges of work and other areas of life. In the…