personal mastery

Executive Presence Inventory

Have you ever assessed your executive presence? Conducting an inventory of how you come across to others is eye-opening.

It's helpful to have a few colleagues that you have such a strong relationship with that you can always ask them uncomfortable “Alisa Cohn” questions. If your boss is among that group, so much the better. Here are 5 powerful questions to ask:

  1. How am I perceived as a leader by the board, key leaders and other stakeholders?

  2. Who around here has strong executive presence? Who has weak executive presence? If you put those two on a continuum, where do I fall between them?

  3. Picture me in a high-stakes meeting. What are some of the specific things I do that give me executive presence or detract from it?

  4. When I walk into a room, does anyone notice?

  5. What suggestions do you have for amping up my executive presence?

As always when you seek feedback, manage your reactions (defensiveness and disagreement are the enemies of feedback.)

I would love to hear from you about what you find out from your Executive Presence Inventory!

Determining Quick Wins

OK, you're sold on quick wins. How can you determine the quick wins in your domain? Questions you can ask yourself to get you started:

Business quick wins:

  1. Is it achievable right now with available resources?

  2. Would success lay the foundation for others to achieve a longer-term goal?

  3. Does it move towards quick, tangible performance in the business, especially visible operational and financial gains?

Process quick wins:

  1. Does it address a long-held complaint/issue/irritant?

  2. Does it contribute towards a new culture you are trying to change?

  3. Is it symbolic in a positive way?

Relationship quick wins:

  1. Does it build much-needed bridges to cross-functional teams and colleagues?

  2. Does it resolve strained relations?

  3. Does it get someone on your side?

Positive answers to these questions are a quick indication that you are headed towards a quick win.

Be a Better Delegator.

People at start-ups have to scale, but so do managers at large companies! The same mindset applies here, especially around finding the right people and delegating to them.

Here are 3 must-dos for effective delegation:

  1. Explain context. Don't tell people what to do, tell them what the outcome needs to look like and why. That way they can make good decisions in the right direction.

  2. Mid-point check-in. When you've delegated a large project, have them let you know when they will set up time with you to check-in, so you can review their progress.

  3. Debrief. At the end of a project you've delegated reserve time to review how it went and, most importantly, lessons learned. The key to increasing people's capacity - and being able to delegate more - is for them to learn as rapidly as possible. Debriefing accelerates this process.

I would love to hear what tools you use to become a better delegator!

You're bought in to scaling yourself, and you know you need to be a better delegator. Check out these common delegation mistake for you to avoid.

Creating your Leadership Manifesto

CEOs and other leaders have certain expectations for the way they want their lieutenants to act - and they should! Each member of the leadership team has two jobs: 1) the function and 2) being a leader in the company. That leadership aspect is often unstated.

Creating a "Leadership Manifesto" helps you clarify your own thinking as well as communicate to the team your expectations.

What should be in your Leadership Manifesto? Qualities and behaviors you want your entire leadership team to embody. Here are a few examples:

  • You are quick to learn new things, open to feedback, and overall have a growth mindset. You transfer that thinking to your team so that everyone is learning on the job rapidly and learning from mistakes

  • Part of your job is to inspire and buoy up everyone around you, including the CEO herself from time to time. We absolutely need brutal realism, but bubbling just below the surface is a can-do spirit and determination that we can overcome every obstacle to win. Emotions are catching; make sure you manage yours.

  • I can count on you. I know that you will take on what I ask you to or help me think through why it's not a good idea. I know that you will do new things with wise judgment and in a way that works with our culture.

How about you? What's in your Leadership Manifesto? I'd love to hear what you come up with!

Three small habits that will yield big results

Small habits are easy to implement and yield big rewards. Pick one of these habits to start this winter. I would love to hear your results!

  1. Prepare for tough moments. Think through controversial meetings in advance: who might challenge you? What might they say? What will you say in response? You actually can predict what tough things will come up if you sit down and think about it. Systematically planning for difficult interactions or tricky situations will make you brilliant when they do come up, rather than thinking of the perfect remark six hours later.

  2. Make quicker decisions. Many people get paralyzed thinking they need more data. Practice making a quick decision. Quick decision-making is a key executive skill, and research shows that it is more effective to make quick decisions and course correct as you go than to collect more and more data and put off decision-making.

  3. Work on strategic projects first. Obviously this will get you to do more strategic things more often. Accomplishing high value things also boosts dopamine, a neurotransmitter in your brain - the same one you are flooded with when you are in the early stage of love. Talk about putting you in a good mood!

Getting Out of Your Head

Getting Out of Your Head

Getting out of your head is one of the toughest challenges you face as a founder/CEO. You have to wade through your own unproductive voices and make sure you communicate clearly and regularly with your team. It's a good time of year to remind yourself of this. I hope you enjoy this encore newsletter, which was also just featured on OpenView

Managing yourself in tough situations

Managing yourself in tough situations

It happens to all of us. We screw up something and then have to fix it. Often "fixing it" means having a tough conversation. Many people don't like to do that, and they certainly don't like anticipating it. Here are three tools for you to help set yourself up for success: 1) Learning lab; 2) Label; 3) Forgive yourself. 

Surviving organizational changes

Surviving organizational changes

Reorgs happen. So do mergers, integrations, and re-assignments. Whenever you get a new set of stakeholders you have to fine-tune your influence strategy, even if you are the boss. Three tools for you: 1) Draw a map; 2) Develop a strategy; 3) Teach your people

Building your business confidence

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. 

Thinking fast on your feet

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.