• Authenticity, a bird showing its colors - Image by wasi1370 from Pixabay
    Personal Brand,  Self-leadership

    Beyond “Fake it Till You Make it”: A More Authentic Approach To Building Confidence

    During the early days of my coaching career, when I said, “I am a coach,” my facial expression didn’t match it. The truth was, I didn’t feel confident about my new identity. Internally, I still saw myself as a software professional who was transitioning into coaching. And, as you can probably guess, the advice I received at the time was to “just believe it.” However, after 13 years, I’m here to tell you that I recommend a different approach. Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a woman in her mid-30s, a software development manager at a startup. Let’s call her Jessica. She struggled to talk about her strengths…

  • Career satisfaction,  Coaching,  Self-leadership,  Success Strategy

    How a Small-Group Coaching Circle Helped Mid-Level Leaders Thrive

    A recent Harvard Business Review article said,  “The benefits of small-group coaching come from powerful learning interactions among leaders who aren’t on the same team but are roughly equal in experience and position, and the process can generate leadership development impacts that exceed what’s possible in one-on-one coaching.”  Building upon this idea, last June, we launched the Tech Leads Coaching Circle for mid-level leaders and seasoned professionals in the tech industry to foster a supportive and collaborative learning environment. We were pleased to see that our initial cohort included a diverse range of professionals, including a few staff-level senior engineers, an engineering manager, a product manager, and a business leader with international experience, all bringing unique perspectives and expertise to…

  • Tearing elephant By ArtTower on Pixabay
    Executive Presence,  Leadership

    Strong Leaders Also Need Psychological Safety

    Psychological safety has become a prevalent concept, encompassing the feeling of safety individuals experience when sharing their thoughts and feelings without risking their status. While this is often attributed to individuals with less power, such as social minorities or those lower in the hierarchy of power or privilege, it also applies to those at the other end of the spectrum. Those in power, who are expected to be strong always, are afraid to show vulnerability, as it can feel unsafe. For example, during recent layoffs at a Fortune 100 company, Teresa, a senior VP, felt exhausted and disheartened by the situation. Despite this, she believed she needed to display her…

  • 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…

  • A man sitting with hands holding this head
    EQ,  Happiness,  Neuroscience,  Self-leadership,  Stress Management

    5 Strategies To Withstand Turbulent Times

    The current economic crisis and the layoffs by major companies created anxiety among workers, even those who have not been directly affected. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s HR Chief wrote about a global human energy crisis saying that about half of the employees are burnt out. In addition, UN Secretary-General warned that the next pandemic will be about a mental health crisis. While economic downturns are not uncommon, it is beyond our control. Finding a new job or growing our business is not entirely up to us. But still, when we face a setback like job loss, it may feel personal, “there must be something wrong with me; it must be my fault.”…

  • Clock, brain, bulbs
    Coaching,  EQ,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  productivity,  Success Strategy

    5 Misconceptions That Get In The Way Of Sustainable Success

    Over the years, through my coaching work with the tech leaders and executives, I helped them uncover some of their misconceptions and limiting behaviors. Even though they were already successful in their careers, they accelerated their success more sustainably when they recognized and overcame such patterns. I have summarised the five main ones here. Misconception 1: Starting with Others’ Expectations We often start with what is expected of us and then comply with those – giving our time and talent in exchange for money, status, and validation. This mindset works for jobs mainly requiring manual labor and physical presence at the worksite. However, as knowledge workers and leaders, we must…

  • 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…

  • Will Smith hits Chris Rock on Oscar Stage
    EQ,  Executive Presence,  Leadership,  Self-leadership

    What Can We Learn From Will Smith’s Oscar Debacle

    [I originally wrote this after the Oscars last year (March 2022).] Since the Oscars, my newsfeed has been flooded with the news and commentary about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage when he made a rather insensitive joke about Will’s wife, Jada. Smith later apologized to Rock. “I was out of line, and I was wrong. I am embarrassed, and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness… I am a work in progress.” While this is celebrity news, we can relate to such incidents. Maybe not every one of us gets…

  • Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Leadership,  Self-leadership

    What Simone Biles, Jacinda Ardern, and Naomi Osaka Taught Us

    Simone Biles, Jacinda Ardern, and Naomi Osaka share a common trait – they all made a courageous decision to quit, to say “no” despite the societal pressure to keep pushing forward, even when at the peak of their careers. Jacinda Ardern stated, “I no longer have enough in the tank to do the job justice,” Simon Biles said she was not in the right mental place to continue, and Naomi Osaka declined to face the press, saying it was “damaging to the mental health.” It requires a different kind of courage to say “No” and stop, especially when the prevailing culture tells us otherwise. Many people struggle to give themselves…

  • 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?”…