Entries by Simon Vetter

5 “Executive Presence” Skills to Advance Your Career

Written by Maya Hu-Chan   One of my clients (we’ll call her Nancy) missed out on an important promotion recently. She sought feedback from the interview panel and was told the same thing several times. She had, they said, a “lack of executive presence.” This is tough feedback to deal with because executive presence is such an abstract and subjective concept. However, as tricky as it is to define, let’s face it — we all know when we are in the room with someone who has executive presence…and also when we’re with someone who doesn’t. There’s a certain quality in some leaders — those who can (seemingly) effortlessly command a room — that is as magnetic as the Pied Piper. […]

How to master cross cultural communication: know when “yes” means “no”

Written by Maya Hu-Chan A trick question, right? I am afraid not. This is a real issue for global business leaders and, every day, there are communication breakdowns occurring across the world as different cultural norms conspire to confuse and confound even the most sensible and experienced global leaders. Here’s a great example. A client rang me recently, very distressed. He is a senior global executive, based in Singapore and working for a US-based American boss. They have always enjoyed a great professional relationship with mutual respect and appreciation. I asked him what had happened. “My boss told me I was stupid,” he said. He went on to describe how humiliated and upset he felt and how he did not […]

Overcoming the Challenge of Leading Virtual Teams

Written by Maya Hu-Chan The secret to building an effective virtual team? With more and more companies working seamlessly across cultures and time zones I am often asked by clients what the secret is to building an effective virtual team. The answer is simple: fresh bagels. OK, it’s really building trust, but we’ll get to the bagels in a minute. The challenge of course is that it is much tougher to build trust when your team is split across time zones and continents than it is when you’re able to have a friendly chat across the water cooler every day. Get together So perhaps a second step needs to be added to help trust develop: getting together. I appreciate that […]

Why Leaders Need to “Stop Fighting the Fires” in Their Companies

Dedicated and over-worked Most leaders are guilty of working too hard at one point or another in their career. Often classified as passionate and driven people, leaders frequently dedicate their entire life to their work. Although this dedication can result in success it can also result in overwhelm, stress and a unhappiness. A great example of overworking and over exertion comes from Darcy, an manager that just got promoted to lead a team of 120 people in operations. Darcy worked 70 to 80 hours a week, came to work early, left late, worked on weekends and didn’t take vacations. She was extremely successful but exhausted. When I met her I knew something needed to change. After talking with her colleagues on her team I learned that […]

The Essence of Strategy

Business keeps moving faster…you better make time for strategy There is a fundamental distinction between strategy and operational effectiveness. Strategy is about making unique choices. Operational effectiveness is about things that are part of your daily routine. A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique. Strategy 101 is about choices. Avoid the natural tendency to be all things to all people. The essence of strategy is that you must set limits. What are you trying to accomplish? The company without a strategy is willing to try anything.

Three Techniques to Develop a Positive Attitude

Experience is the best teacher. Unfortunately, having an experience does not guarantee learning from it. From my personal experience, people with a positive attitude tend to have a strong learning mindset: they show curiosity, ask a lot of questions, seek and learn from new challenging experiences, are inquisitive and interested about others, and are willing to take risks. A simple way to develop a more positive attitude is to foster a learning mindset, the ability to learn from experience. Yet many people either take it for granted or ignore it outright. The biggest barrier to learning from experience is many of us live our lives on “automatic pilot” making little or no efforts to learn from experiences. We run from […]

How to Turn a Good Leadership Team into a Great One

  The enemy of becoming great is being good. That is the reason we have many good companies, not great ones, good schools, not a great ones, and good management teams, not great ones. Most organizations, institutions, teams, and individuals have become comfortable with being good. That’s where they stay. Consequently, there is no urgency, drive, and motivation put into extra efforts to become great. When the CEO of a construction company called me to provide leadership development, the company went through a lot of change. They had transferred complete ownership of the company twice in the previous year and experienced a high turnover in personnel. The executive team consisted of nine individuals with very driven, ambitious, A-type personalities. Their […]

Unleash the Power of a Compelling Vision

Vision One of the most popular buzzwords in business.  It has been discussed in management literature, offices, and boardrooms around the world. Yet I think it remains one of the most misinterpreted and underused concepts in business. Here’s an example of the word “vision” that has become so common: At a recent meeting with Stan, the VP of sales in a large software company, I asked, “What’s the vision for your company?” He gave me a blank look, reached into his drawer, and pulled out a 3×5 card. He started reciting the words printed on that card. His voice was dry and monotone, as if he was reading a legal document.  His face revealed no enthusiasm whatsoever. I couldn’t blame […]

Questions Every Professional Should Answer for Clarity

In the field of effectiveness, Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker.” The toughest job of a knowledge worker is to define his or her “work.” Knowledge work can be described as one whose main asset is knowledge. For example, what is the “work” of a manager, financial analyst, quality control specialist, software engineer, or executive coach? Answering that in a clear, concise sentence is hard. Clarity is needed. To gain clarity, we have to go to a higher place. It’s just like mountain climbing – the higher we go, the further we can see. We want to put things in a different context, generate unrealized ideas, or change perspective how we see things. Good, relevant questions can do that. […]

What is Your Plan for 2015?

I am amazed at how many professionals start the New Year without established personal or career goals. Many people have New Year’s resolutions, yet they avoid setting clear intentions for their personal/career life and when they do they avoid writing them out. Seven years ago, I started a personal planning exercise for my life and career. At the beginning of every year, I sit down for a couple of hours and write down what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. Throughout the year I track my progress towards my goals and make adjustments. Over the years, I have not only made progress in my personal goal achievements, I have also developed better, more realistic goal setting and […]

Maximize your coaching experience to create lasting, positive change

  Two months ago, I hired a coach, Gerry Rose, to help me make positive changes. Over the last three years, my business has been good. Now I want it to be great. I want to strengthen my brand and boost my revenue while having fun. Like any other business, the leadership development and coaching business has become increasingly competitive. Everyday more and more coaches enter our field; former executives, psychologists, personal fitness trainers, etc. are hanging out their shingles and open coaching practices. I’d better stand out, differentiate myself, attract, and sign up more clients. One of my core principle as an executive coach is to “apply what I teach”. Therefore, I better have a coach myself! I believe […]

How to Get More Done Without Stress

  How often do you say, “I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do”? When you focus primarily on better results, there is a tendency to compromise the quality of life. There is a powerful answer to that dilemma: the idea that there is a lovely balance between focusing on results and being relaxed.   In karate, the power of a hit comes from speed, not muscle power; a tense muscle is a slow muscle. This means your ability to generate results is directly proportionate to your ability to relax. You can’t get things done faster until you learn to slow down, take a step back, and get a different perspective on how you […]