• Two men are talking in a business setting
    Communication,  EQ,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Success Strategy

    How to Approach Difficult Conversations When It’s Uncomfortable

    Are you dreading a challenging conversation, particularly in a work setting? Do you fear that it might not go as planned? You’re certainly not alone; many of us share this apprehension. Based on the experiences of my clients, here are some common reasons for avoiding difficult conversations: Consider the skill of difficult conversation as a learning process akin to learning how to play the piano. Just as a beginner can’t effortlessly play an entire song, you may not handle difficult conversations smoothly initially. However, with preparation and discipline, you can gradually navigate these conversations, even if the experience isn’t always seamless. As you continue to prepare and apply your learning…

  • Conflict at work
    Communication,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Personal Brand

    Intimidating to Inspiring: How A Tech Leader Solved The Approachability Problem

    Vlad (not his real name), a seasoned tech leader, received feedback that some team members found him intimidating – hindering them from seeking his guidance. His management urged him to work on his approachability. Vlad cared deeply about product and design quality and was passionate about solving complex problems. However, he didn’t particularly enjoy attending meetings and providing feedback, which was expected of him as a senior technical person on the team. So during those meetings, he appeared reluctantly and often conveyed his feedback quite abruptly, leaving others perplexed and frustrated. Anyone with average empathy would understand that how you communicate is as important, if not more, than the actual…

  • Coaching,  Communication,  EQ,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Stress Management

    Direct Communication Doesn’t Have To Be Hurtful

    Stuart, a mid-level leader at a corporate, came to me as he wanted to be more approachable. “I am very direct, but people take it negatively.” I want to influence without causing animosity. Megan, a director at a non-profit, had difficulty giving corrective feedback; she worried the recipient might get hurt, so she used a long-winded way that often got lost in translation. Stuart and Megan had limiting beliefs that direct and kind can’t happen simultaneously; you have to choose one or the other. But Brene Brown taught us, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind”. Brene Brown The purpose of direct communication is to convey the message as clearly as…

  • Two people talking
    Coaching,  Communication,  Leadership,  Neuroscience

    Do You Dread Giving Feedback? There Is A Better Way.

    Giving feedback is a regular part of a manager’s job responsibility, but most are uncomfortable. David Rock and his colleagues from the NeuroLeadership Institute wrote in this article, “Typical feedback conversations are about as pleasant as a root canal. Managers dread them because it’s often unclear what feedback the employee wants or needs. Employees dread them because even light criticism can feel like an assault on their status and credibility.” David Rock, The Neuroleadership Institute People want feedback. A feedback loop is what makes organisms survive on this earth. In a podcast, Oprah Winfrey mentioned that all her guests, including Beyonce and President Obama, asked her, “How did I do?”…

  • Smiley face on a sidewalk
    Communication,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Neuroscience,  Self-leadership

    A Smile is a Leadership Tool

    I recently had a coaching session with a tech leader who expressed a strong desire to enhance his approachability. While he was committed to delivering high-quality products, he was aware that his intense focus on quality sometimes came across as inflexible and intimidating. As a coach, I work with various personalities, and my approach is to identify the strengths of each individual. So I was not surprised that he appeared stiff in our call, and I had to avoid being influenced by it. But as the call progressed, I noticed a positive shift in his demeanor. He seemed more relaxed and even had a smile on his face. I shared…

  • Super hero employee
    Coaching,  Communication,  Executive Presence,  Leadership

    From High Achiever to a Leader: It’s a Mindset Shift

    Stephan was a VP of a Fortune 200 company. He was one of the top performers and indispensable for high stake projects. As a result, he was stretched thin; and had no downtime. He tried to delegate to his team, but unfortunately, he had to jump in when things got tough. It was unsustainable and unscalable for him and the organization. That is when he looked for a coach. I summarized his learning journey in the sections below. Start with Selfcare On our first meeting, I noticed that Stephan looked sleep deprived. However, he also candidly admitted that he had so much to do and so few resources that working…

  • Two men are talking in a business setting
    Career satisfaction,  Coaching,  Communication,  Executive Presence

    A Tale Of A Coaching Session

    In corporate, coaching means helping someone do their job by giving them advice. Some examples are “have you considered XYZ?” and “If I were you, I would do it this way.” But professional coaching is about helping someone maximize their potential by creating awareness and developing an implementation plan according to their choice. I will describe one coaching session here to shed light on it. I got this new coaching project; I met the client for our first session last week. A woman in her mid-30s, a manager at a Biotech company, showed up on my Zoom screen. Let me call her Kate. We spent 10-ish minutes getting to know…

  • Coaching,  Communication,  Leadership,  Work Culture

    Remote and Hybrid Work Is Here To Stay: How Are You Catching Up?

    Even five years ago, calling into a meeting was not very encouraged. But this Covid19 pandemic suddenly turned the culture upside down. Nowadays, organizations are having difficulty bringing people back to physical offices. Two years of forced remote work taught us that we don’t have to be in one physical place to be productive. Historically, pandemics changed societies. In 1347, the Black Death’s most significant socioeconomic legacy was its role in ending feudalism. In 1819, the Spanish Flu revolutionized public health, spawning the new fields of epidemiology and virology. In addition, it led several Western European countries to adopt universal healthcare systems that are still in operation. Remote and Hybrid…

  • Children, foster greater understanding
    Communication,  EQ,  Happiness,  Leadership,  Self-leadership

    Conversations To Foster Greater Understanding

    Recently this post by an organizational psychologist at Wharton, Adam Grant, went viral on LinkedIn. He said: The clearest sign of intellectual chemistry isn’t agreeing with someone. It’s enjoying your disagreements with them. Harmony is the pleasing arrangement of different tones, voices, or instruments, not the combination of identical sounds. Creative tension makes beautiful music. I commented there, which became most popular on that post (80+ likes and 20 comments). I would add, keeping the intention of understanding as the purpose, and not so much of agreement or disagreement. That way, it becomes less subjective. For example:  instead of “I disagree,” one can say, “Can you give me an example where…

  • Children fighting
    Communication,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Personal Brand,  Self-leadership

    From Jerk to Genuine: How These High Performers Built Trust With Their Teams

    Result and efficiency-driven high-performing individuals often have a blindspot when relating to others. It can create unintended harm to team morale and trust. Others tolerate such “jerk” behavior as subject matter expertise, and “get things done” competencies are valued more. It is not that they don’t get any feedback to correct their behavior, but rather the opposite. They don’t get timely and precise feedback. People want to understand the feedback before they can act on it. And when they do, they commit to it and eventually become more impactful.  “I have been receiving this feedback for so many years. However, this is the first time I can understand it.” This…