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What Works

Alisa Cohn's monthly set of ideas and tools for making senior executives more successful

Archive

June 2014
Building Your Business Confidence
Having business confidence is essential to getting you to the executive ranks and making you successful once you are there. Confidence has two related but distinct aspects: feeling confident and coming across as confident. Three tools will help you get both: 1) increase your knowledge base; 2) get validation; 3) stand your ground. The second article gives you some words to use to help you stand your ground. Read on…

April 2014
Influencing Your Enemies
Enemies, rivals, antagonists. The hard truth about corporate life is that now and again you find yourself on the wrong side of someone. And yet, you still have to work with them productively. Learn to influence your enemies: 1) Communicate openly; 2) Do them favors; 3) Influence those around them. The second article gives you ideas of how to stay calm when you do the first step of communicating openly. Read on…

March 2014
Getting More Visible
You already know that your good work is critical, but not sufficient, for you to move forward. To get noticed, you need to be visible. One way to be visible is through succeeding in meetings, specifically 1) Get invited; 2) Prepare; 3) Exude confidence. The second article gives you some more visibility tips. Read on…

February 2014
What's It Take To Get Promoted?
Sometimes it seems no matter what you do you aren't getting that next promotion. Today's article focuses on what it takes to get promoted: 1) Look with fresh eyes at your organization; 2) Get deeper feedback; 3) Bridge the gaps. The second article gives you questions you can ask yourself to help look with fresh eyes at your organization. Read on…

January 2014
Small Changes Drive Big Results
The new year brings big resolutions. But, the truth is that small course corrections are your best bet to actually make progress. Today's article focuses on the framework to make a powerful small change stick: 1) Pick a high-leverage change; 2) Get specific; 3) Make it a habit. The second article gives you three habits you can start right now to power up your career. Read on…

December 2013
Thinking Fast on your Feet
Some people are naturally fast on their feet; the rest of us need to develop that skill. The best way to ensure you find the right ways to handle difficult moments and political environments is to plan. Today's article focuses on planning for three scenarios: 1) Moving forward your agenda; 2) Reacting to negative comments; 3) Giving in gracefully. Read on…

November 2013
Creating Your Vector
Your vector is the direction you create out of your entire scope of what you have to get done at work and the force you put behind it. Today's article focuses on a recipe to help you create your vector: 1) Focus 2) Document 3) Communicate. The second article gives you ideas on how to move your vector forward. Read on…

September 2013
Scale Your Leadership
Moving up in your career requires that you learn how to scale your leadership. Easy to say, hard to do. Today's article focuses on 3 tools to help you right now: 1) Shift your mindset; 2) Build the team; 3) Create more process. The second article calls out common delegation mistake for you to avoid. Read on…

August 2013
Strategic Networking
Your network is important for your career, and that's true no matter who you are or what you do. Many people are confused about how to network strategically. Today's article focuses on 3 tools to help you right now: 1) Meet new people; 2) Deepen existing relationships; 3) Repeat. The second article gives you ideas on how to add value, always. Read on…

July 2013
Influence in Meetings
Let's face it: you spend most of your working day in meetings. Today's article focuses on how you can get more of what you want out of those meetings: 1) Hold pre-meetings; 2) Create a framework; 3) Make strategic concessions. The second article gives you some ideas to structure your pre-meetings. Read on…

June 2013
Confidence
Everyone loses their nerve now and again. Today's article focuses on 3 tools to help you give off confidence right now: 1) Find a role model; 2) Use your body; 3) Create a mental video. The second article gives you some ideas for your "pre-game" routine. Read on…

March 2013
Tell us a story
Story-telling may seem trivial, but it's an important way to make sure your message gets out. Today's article focuses on 3 key stories you should learn to tell: 1) Who am I, 2) Why am I here, 3) Where are we going. The second article gives you 3 tips to help you tell better stories. Read on…

January 2013
Power
The un-pretty truth is that you need power to move up in your career. Today's article focuses on 3 ways to get more power without selling your soul: 1) Build your influence network 2) Get in the game 3) Ask. The second article gives you 4 tools to help you speak more powerfully. Read on…

December 2012
Improving your executive presence
Executive presence is one of those terms that people throw out there and then have trouble describing. We all know one thing: executive presence matters. Today's article focuses on 3 ways to get your arms around executive presence (these are well researched by Sylvia Ann Hewitt, Center for Talent Innovation): 1) Gravitas 2) Communication 3) Appearance. The second article gives you some powerful questions you can ask others so you can get a handle on your own executive presence. Read on…

November 2012
Getting out of your comfort zone
Growth only happens when you find ways to learn new skills. At the senior levels, these are mostly subtle, and rather than requiring a class, they force you to step out of your comfort zone. Even though this is a cliche, it's not so easy. Today's article focuses on 3 tools to help. Read on…

October 2012
Building Relationships to Influence Better
No matter what you're trying to get done, no matter how senior your title, you need strong and wide relationships to be influential and have the impact you want. Today's article focuses on 3 steps: 1) Determine your key stakeholders, 2) get to know them, 3) be relevant. The second article gives you some tips on what you can give your network — you have more to give than you may think. Read on…

April 2012
Strategic Conversations
Jason was angry when I saw him in mid-March. Seething really. Jason is the Senior Vice President of R&D in the largest division of a Fortune 50 pharmaceuticals company. He reports to the president of the division and has a dotted line into the worldwide head of R&D. Read on…

March 2012
The Most Strategic Habit You Can Develop
"I can't slow down," Jim said to me impatiently a few weeks ago. "I'm starting up a new organization. I'm spearheading cost transformation cross-functionally, and that's all in addition to my day job. Slowing down would be suicide!" Read on…

January 2012
How to Have a Better Fight
Sean, the CEO of a fast growing high tech start-up, emailed me to see if we could have an emergency phone call. Now there aren't that many coaching emergencies, so of course I made time for him immediately. It turns out that he and his leadership team were discussing how to implement their first formal performance appraisal process. As the time approached to fill out the forms and schedule conversations, they found themselves having an argument about the right forms to use and the process for holding the meetings. Read on…

December 2011
Quick Wins Build Traction
"Ain't nothin' like success!" Carol said to me when I walked into her office right before Christmas. Good news - finally! Carol played for me a voicemail that someone had left her that morning - one of those nice voicemails you save to make yourself feel better when you are having a bad day. Read on…

August 2011
3 Keys to Driving Change
"This is why this company is completely screwed up," my client Carl greeted me for our coaching meeting. "They don't get it. They are just completely closed to any new ideas." Read on…

March 2011
Leaders infuse energy
"Cautiously optimistic," is how Glenn, the CEO of a chemical distribution company, put it when we spoke in mid-March, referring to his forecast for the rest of the year. This first quarter will probably come in about 4% above expectations, so with that in mind he and his team are - happily for a change - re-forecasting the year. Read on…

February 2011
Success in your new role
On one of those blizzardy days back in December I met Shari in a loft in Soho. An Israeli who has lived in New York for 8 years, Shari is friendly, insightful, blunt, and very intense. She has been a rising star in healthcare technology, and she was brought in by the board to take her new role, COO of a hot healthcare technology startup. Read on…

January 2011
Getting Feedback
Last Friday I had a great conversation with one of my favorite former clients. Ryan is a brilliant engineer and leader, intense, full of passion. He brought his whole self to coaching, soaking up every bit of insight there was to get out of the process and putting it into action immediately. A highlight for him was the "360-feedback" process, where I interview his direct reports, peers, and boss to learn what he's great at and what he should get better at. Read on…

December 2010
Four S's of Strategic Thinking
Emily, senior vice president of operations, works for a large international bank. She is a down-to-earth, get things done, very funny person. A world-traveler who still maintains her Brooklyn accent, she uses her persona with real charm as she undertakes the painstaking work of, for example, re-engineering internal processes to root out and destroy every last manual form needed (she calls herself "the enemy of forms.") Read on…

August 2010
Labor Day Resolutions to Work Smarter
Labor Day is the unsung hero of "New Year's resolutions." Coming back from vacation you are (hopefully) recharged and (definitely) overwhelmed by the 763 emails that have accumulated in your inbox. You dive right back into the same routine, energized by back-to-school energy, vowing you will make better use of your time...but not really changing up your routine. Read on…

July 2010
Bouncing Back Quickly
Last week Douglas, the country head of a global pharmaceutical company, opened up our coaching session with a painful scenario. Now all my clients have ups and downs - that's normal for successful executives - but in 10 years of coaching I have learned there is nothing more painful than blowing a big presentation in front of important people. Read on…

January 2010
The Three R's of Influence
Years and years ago I worked as the Chief of Staff to the Provost of a major university. The Provost is the Chief Academic Officer - the CEO of the academic side of the house. Just before I left to go to business school we conducted a strategic planning process. I remember the Provost saying "We're going to have to get the faculty to buy-in. I can't tell them what to do." Read on…

November 2009
Reframing Helps You Lead Better
Last month I conducted a leadership program in Utah that included an overnight camping trip (fancy camping - think Backroads, not Outward Bound.) The participants all signed up voluntarily even though most of them didn't know each other before the trip. We bonded through the day, and then got to our campsite for the overnight part. Read on…