It’s Okay to Close Your Door!

March 25, 2015 by  
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This post was originally published in Great Coaching Tips by the Phoenix Chapter of the ICF.

Open Doors

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

It’s Okay to Close Your Door!
By Sylva Leduc, MEd, MPEC, BCC

Over the years, having an open door policy has been embraced by many leaders. Yet, when I suggest that my crazy-busy clients occasionally close their door to “have a meeting with yourself,” my request is met with utter disbelief!

The reaction usually comes from leaders who are so people-oriented that they feel guilty if they are not perpetually available.

One leader I coached was struggling with an ever increasing volume of work, i.e., a constant stream of e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and impromptu “got a minute?” drop-ins. When we first started working together, his answer to time management was to stay late and work long after everyone else had gone home.

So what was happening?

Those were the only times when he thought he could slow down and focus on what really needed to be done since he spent most of his days solving problems his direct reports could handle if given the latitude. After several coaching conversations, in which we talked about how he could pause to reflect on what was most important to accomplish, we began to see a shift.

One of his strategies was to post a 30-day calendar on his door showing both drop-in times and scheduled meetings for the week (including his own weekly 60-minute meeting for reflection and strategizing). For that meeting, instead of identifying it as “meeting with myself,” the time became his “meeting with my coach” as he shifted to self-coaching. Then he instructed his assistant to guard that time each week and not let anyone book over it.

For those meetings, he closed his door.

Guess what? It worked! Within a short period of time, he was accomplishing more, going home earlier, and he even had time to reengage in some of his favorite hobbies. As an added bonus, he was relieved to find that his team began solving problems rather than depending upon him to be the hero.

Coaching Tip: At the end of each week, close your own door and spend 30-60 minutes reviewing what was accomplished that week and then reflect on what’s most important to achieve next week.


About the Author

Sylva Leduc, MED, MPEC, BCCSylva Leduc is a sought after Leadership Strategist, executive coach, seasoned facilitator, speaker and published author. She has received the ICF’s Prism Award (twice) for her Executive Coaching. Sylva’s coaching certification is from the College of Executive Coaching, where she is also a faculty member, teaches a variety of courses and mentors new coaches.

Her company, Sage Leadership Strategies, focuses on executive coaching, 360 feedback, onboarding, developing emerging leaders, team programs, retreat facilitation and strategic planning.

Sylva is President of the ICF Phoenix Chapter for 2013.

Office: 480-515-5511

What is your body language saying about you?

November 7, 2013 by  
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[ted id=1569 width=640 height=360]TED Talk on Body Language

We received the PRISM Award – Again !

August 27, 2012 by  
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For the past three years we have partnered with LeadingAge Arizona to facilitate their Leadership Academy for emerging leaders & shining stars.

This year, all of our hard work was recognized by the Phoenix chapter of the International Coach Federation with the PRISM award.

About the ICF Phoenix PRISM Award



Molly O’Neill, President of the ICF Phoenix chapter, presents the PRISM Award to Sylva Leduc, of SAGE Leaders for the Leadership Academy at LeadingAge Arizona.






Corporate Values

July 17, 2012 by  
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What are your company’s corporate values? Read this article from the NY Times about an emerging leader who listened to employees as they defined what the company stands for.

It’s Not About Me. It’s About Our Company Values.


The Connection between Confidence & Success

July 7, 2012 by  
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Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting article about the connection between confidence and success.

The author’s premise is that less confident people are more successful. If that is true then does it mean highly confident people (who may even be arrogant) are less successful? Or, are they successful but not well liked? What do you think?

Less Confident People are More Successful

Mentor Monday: Creating Team Agreements

November 15, 2011 by  
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Do you work in an effective team?  If you want to improve/enhance your team communications and learn about ways of working together, then spend 28 minutes listening to this month’s edition of Mentor Monday with Sylva Leduc as she talks about creating working agreements for teams & meetings.

Listen/download (mp3) Creating Team Agreements


Want to receive your own invitation to attend Mentor Monday? Mentor Monday takes place the first Monday of each month and there’s no cost to attend.

For more information, visit Mentor Monday and register.



MENTOR MONDAY: How to be a Better Boss

June 28, 2011 by  
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This month for Mentor Monday, we reviewed the 2010 best-selling business book by Robert Sutton, “Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst.” Sutton’s book is based on the more than 100,000 responses he received when he asked employees what they want from their boss.

Listen to this Mentor Monday call  and save yourself a lifetime of learning. Whether you are an emerging leader or a seasoned executive, you’ll benefit with at least one takeaway.


Listen to this entire podcast in only 30 minutes.

Want to read our book review?

Sage Leaders Special Report - How to be a Better BossClick on the graphic or link,
Sage Leaders – How to be a Better Boss

If you like this type of practical learning then,
register for Mentor Monday
(click on link) and you’ll receive advance invitations to all our free calls.

Expect the Best,
Sylva Leduc
Leadership Strategist for Emerging Leaders
Managing Partner, Sage Leaders Inc.

P.S., On the call I mentioned Sutton’s survey. It’s been completed by more than 100,000 people!  Take the survey and evaluate your boss. And if you manage people complete it on yourself.

If found this information informative (or fun) and you like Mentor Monday then like us on Facebook & share with your friends.

Or, let us know what you think in the comment box below!

Sage Strategies: Are Your Presentations Powerful?

June 17, 2011 by  
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Sylva Leduc talks about assessments and how to be a better leader

Imagine this:  You’ve been asked to give a presentation.

Congratulations!  This is your chance to shine.

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t like being in the spotlight and presenting.

You may even have read somewhere that public speaking is the #1 fear of most people and it’s rated even higher than dying.

If just the thought of public speaking makes you cringe, I have good news. You can deliver confident and powerful presentations!  All it takes is preparation, practice, and a winning mindset.  How do I know?  Because the first time I ever had to present in front of a large group, I literally thought I was going to faint. Through preparation, practice and intentionally placing myself in front of opportunities to  present, I grew to enjoy speaking in front of large groups. And now, it’s one of my favorite ways to connect with people.

If you are an emerging leader being groomed for career advancement, then don’t be surprised if you are asked to make presentations more frequently.

I’d like to give you some simple tips you that can use to conquer your worries. With these tips & tactics, you’ll be ready in no time, feeling confident, and fully prepared to share your knowledge.

First, there are a few things for you to think about:

  1. If you were asked to present, it’s because you can do it—you wouldn’t have been asked otherwise.
  2. Most people don‘t really like presenting.  Some of the best, most well-known speakers and actors have confessed to this.  So, when you look at your audience, know that you’re in good company because they are probably admiring your courage and want you to be successful.
  3. The words that come out of your mouth contribute to only about 10% of what is communicated.  That leaves 90% to non-verbals.  If your body language, expression and gestures communicate confidence, you will come across as confident.

But just how do you create this confidence?

Here’s the secret: being prepared; practicing; and having identified beforehand, instant solutions for de-stressing.

One of our favorite mottos is, “If you think you can, you can.”

Here is how you’re going to prepare, stand confidently in place, and knock their socks off!

Confidence Builder #1:  Know Your Content

Identify your key messages—bullet them in order so they tell a clear story.

Jot down cues for your key messages (e.g. on index card, flashcards, paper, etc.).

Have them ready as back up (but remember to refrain from reading them word-for-word while presenting).

Enhance your messages with supporting tools, and interesting visuals—it will be a perk for your audience, and it takes the spotlight off you.

Be sure to tap into your resources—know a graphic design expert?  Ask for their advice. Oh, and be sure to read the book, “Presentation Zen” so that you make your presentation interesting and not put you audience to sleep with a boring Power Point presentation.

Confidence Builder #2:  Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice delivery of your presentation.  Do this in the mirror.  You might feel funny talking to yourself, but it works.

Or, use a Flip Video, record your presentation and review yourself.

Watch your body language.

Find your “confident look.”

Stand, straight, be sure to use smooth hand gestures, and limit unnecessary movement (e.g. rocking back and forth from one foot to the other).

Practice until the words flow like water.

When you’re ready, practice in front of a friend or two.

Ask them each for 3 things you did well and 1 thing you could improve.

Confidence Builder #3:  Create your “winning scene”

Visualize yourself delivering your presentation.

Then see your audience’s reaction.

What does that “winning scene” look like for you?

Visualize it over and over until you can see it so clearly that you know what color of socks your boss is wearing!

Confidence Builder #4:  Do it!

Identify ways to calm your nerves before you even begin: take deep breaths, or find whatever works for you (e.g. picture everyone smiling and nodding in agreement).

Squelch any negative thoughts or concerns by envision your “winning scene.”

Think positively.  Remember:  “If you think you can, you can.”

As you speak, maintain eye contact with as many people as you can—this conveys confidence and executive presence.  While we don’t want you to stare at anyone for longer than three seconds, we also don’t want your eyes darting around the audience.  You’ll look shifty!

Here’s a quick tip: If it helps, determine a shape in your mind and make eye contact around the room as though you were creating that shape with your line of vision.

Be sure to keep your pace nice and s…l…o…w.

Many of us tend to speedtalk when presenting. I know that I’ve been guilty of this when I didn’t pay attention. What might sound slow to us sounds just right to the listener.

When you are well prepared you will make your points confidently, answer questions clearly, and start to look forward to your next opportunity to be on stage!

Sylva Leduc, MEd, MPEC
The Leadership Strategist
Executive Coach

ps  Any great stories to share about a presentation you made or a one where you were in the audience? What about horror stories of the worst presentation you ever had to sit through?

The Likeability Factor

June 10, 2011 by  
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I found a great article from the Harvard Business School: Whom Would You Hire?

Are you a likeable leader?

Sylva Leduc
Sage Leaders

What is Executive Presence? (Part 1)

March 31, 2011 by  
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Has this ever happened in your company?

Someone is promoted to a leadership position. The person successfully competed against other qualified candidates, some of whom you know are just as experienced and smart. You ask yourself, “Why him?” … or, “Why her?”

Soon, through the rumor mill, you hear that it was a question of “Executive Presence.” As often happens in judging one candidate over another, the decision came down to degrees of executive presence.

So you start doing a little research on the subject. Karl Albrecht, a prolific writer and the author of  more than a dozen books, names executive presence as one of the five pillars of social intelligence:

Presence: Often referred to as “bearing,” presence incorporates a range of verbal and nonverbal patterns (one’s appearance, posture, vocal quality, subtle movements)—a whole collection of signals that others process into an evaluative impression of a person.
Karl Albrecht, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success (Pfeiffer, 2009)

Searching for Executive Presence

An Internet search on executive presence reveals definitions and advice on everything from dressing for success and patterns of speech to more fundamental issues of emotional and social intelligence.

The concept of presence raises serious questions for anyone with ambitions of career advancement. If, as Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book Blink, decisions are made intuitively, what do we need to know about “executive presence”?

As it turns out, everyone’s definition of the term seems to differ. But planning your career and determining your leadership development needs shouldn’t be left to guesswork.

I don’t know about you, but if executive presence makes a difference in getting the promotion or not getting it, I want to be sure I do everything I can to get more of it. So what is “it?”

Some conclude that executive presence has little to do with polish, poise, sophistication or even use of body language and gestures. In many cases, executives with presence are just as likely to lack these qualities.

In this day and age, executive presence comes in all shapes and sizes, including some you wouldn’t normally recognize. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that Bill Gates would command it?

Would Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder of Facebook, have stood out as a high-potential CEO? But as one of the youngest men ever to be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, he certainly has presence—albeit a “Gen Y” version of it.

If you want to be promoted to the VP level, or even to the C-suites, you must learn how to acquire or improve your level of executive presence. And if you’re already in senior management, you must recognize your current potential and help nurture executive presence in the people you want to groom for succession.

But this may be as elusive as charisma. Everyone knows when someone’s got charisma, but it’s not exactly something you can pick up in business school.

I do think you can improve your executive presence by working on your strengths. I see this all the time with clients, the executives and emerging leaders we coach. In highly competitive organizations, where the high-potential candidates are all pretty smart and savvy, there are ways to manage others’ perceptions to your advantage.

It may be hard to improve your presence, but that’s certainly one thing an executive coach can help you do.

In our work with executives we coach several aspects of executive presence. Speech and mannerisms are only the tip of the iceberg. The rest is developing social intelligence.

Later this year I am presenting at a conference where I have been asked to speak about one of my favorite topics.  Can you guess what that topic is? If executive presence came immediately to mind, you’re right!

As I prepare the materials, I’ll also include more information here, so be sure to bookmark this page. And, I’ll also be offering a special conference call in April.  If you are interested in attending this free call, then be sure to register for Mentor Monday.

Sylva Leduc

What do you think about this concept of executive presence? Can it be faked or manufactured or coached? Please leave a comment.

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