Sales tips, leadership communication skills insight and more from Steve Giglio, sales training professional for more than 25 years.

Coach More, Delegate Less

It is often the case that a new leader wants to have a fast start with their organization. In their zeal to accomplish this and make a splash, they over-delegate and under coach.

To succeed as a new leader, I recommend the opposite.

Coach, Don’t Manage

It’s better to over coach/shape your direct reports and their direct reports versus delegating tasks in the hope that each exec perfectly accomplishes their mission. But coaching is not the same as managing or micro-managing. The latter can be overbearing and puts people on the defensive while the former creates a partnership atmosphere where you aid their efforts, not command them.

Coaches Create a Bond

It is during this early time when you will begin creating the bond between you and your directs. They need to see how you lead, get a sense of your vision, and see how you will be there to work side-by-side with them when needed. A coach does this…a delegator does not.

What is mission-critical is that you put your imprint as a coach on your directs by selflessly shaping their actions and being more concerned about what they learn in this process versus the perfect outcome of the process. Bear in mind that it is your directs’ journey they will value and remember long after the tasks are completed.

Do you remember the last time you were a new leader of a team? How did it go? Could this post have helped you avoid some issues early on? Answer below in the comments. 



Nobody’s Listening

You may be the most senior person in the room. You may be the boss. Heck, you may even own the company! But that doesn’t mean they are listening to you. Don’t let that happen to you.

It can if you’re not careful and mindful of these SIX Behaviors to Hold People’s Attention and Lead Successfully:

#1: Avoid Dominating Conversations/Meetings

By definition, you’re the leader of the meeting since they report to you. Do not take advantage of it. Domination comes in many forms. You can:

  • Over-communicate about an issue.
  • Become too professorial by lecturing
  • Jump to a conclusion (invariably the one you decided on just before the meeting)

Every one of these behaviors shuts people down and worse, does not affirm them. That’s when they start tuning you out.

#2: Lose the Swagger

Everyone knows you run the show, don’t push it. You get a “hall-pass” on just about everything, take advantage of none of them. Instead, let someone else’s swagger present itself. Others will notice that you don’t always have to be the center of attention.

#3: Be Forebearant

Definition: Patient restraint, keeping oneself in check when provoked. 

It’s easy to be provoked. Your day is busier than everyone else’s (or at least, that’s what you think!). When you’re in a meeting, “be there”/“be present”, with no distractions. Just because you’re ahead of everyone’s thinking doesn’t give you the right to leapfrog/hijack the conversation. Give their ideas a chance to live so that you don’t send them on a goose chase after what you think is the only solution: yours.

#4: Guard Your Time

Avoid spending time vetting an issue others should be vetting. You do not have the luxury anymore to wax poetically about “what ifs” or alternative realities.  Every time you do, you diminish your responsibility as a leader of people. The return on this behavior will be increasingly minimal so, keep it in check.

#5: Stay On Message/Be Concise & Clear

Mastering the organization of informative or persuasive communication is mission-critical for you, your image, and legacy. If you don’t know how to do this, get coaching on it. Boards are notorious for their sensitivity towards this skill. They want and deserve to be motivated. A great Board member of a Fortune 100 company once said to me, “What I most want to say to my CEO is ‘Great, what do you need from me?'”

#6: Give Credit to a POV

Please find and do this. Your job is to grow others. It’s to foster an environment where people feel they can contribute without fear of public critique, or worse you one-upping them. Listeners know when someone should be acknowledged for their smart contribution, don’t do it and you risk being labeled a know-it-all or unappreciative. You just lost your audience’s attention, perhaps forever.

Are they listening to you? If you don’t know, give me and call and we will find out together!



Making a Difference in Our Next Normal World

First and foremost I trust you all are safe, your families are healthy, and you’re remaining optimistic with the uncertain world we’re in.

If there is anything that should be clear at this point is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. All of us are collectively trying to normalize in a world we’ve never been in before. Do your best to remember this as you stay connected to loved ones and clients. What’s coming next, no one can be sure. People say it will be the “new normal.” But after events such as 9/11, the California wildfires, Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Sandy, etc….it’s more like what’s coming is the “next normal.” Your clients need you more than ever.

Use Your Heart to Get Into Their Heads

You are likely facing a great challenge. Not only has your business been disrupted, but your clients’ have also. Nothing is normal right now. The tendency, perhaps in the first few weeks, was to triage your business and help employees navigate a virtual work environment. But that period is over.

Now is the time to empathize with your clients’ situations based on your in-depth knowledge of their operation and their industry. Keep in the forefront of your mind, even though you’re not face-to-face with a client, your warmth factor REMAINS. Through all your communication, whether it’s video conferencing, telephone, e-mail, etc., it’s important that you affirm everyone you speak with by understanding their struggle. This is paramount. Note that I’m not saying fix it; I’m saying get it/catch it as though you are your client’s crash-cushion. Be there to allow them to sound off about it and be an empathetic partner. You’ll be remembered for this.

Set Up the Next Normal

Post-sheltering, it’s the people who showed patient empathy that others will contact to help them move their business forward. Put yourself in that position whenever possible. Now is the time to solidify market share by being interested, not interesting. Here’s a tip…let your clients talk, you’re not going anywhere, right? So you may as well let them fully express themselves. Now is the time to ask probing questions and get deeper into their issues. Everyone is affected by the shutdown. What you need to find out are the not-so-obvious impacts it is having and where you can help…now and in the new normal. Take time to listen to your clients, ask the right questions, get them talking. You will both benefit from the exchanges.

Care…Really Care

Recently, I told a client that he should initiate meetings as though he worked for Hallmark. Some key internal questions: “What would be top of mind for my client right now? What would she want me to ask her first? What could I ask that really gets to the heart of the matter?”

Plan a warm opening salutation; for example: “Amanda, how are you and your family? How’s your son with all this confusion and his college enrollment challenges you mentioned last time we spoke?” Remember, many people now are desperate and skeptical, even your clients (and mine!). And they have more on their mind than just business right now. What neutralizes these feelings is dialogue and periodically playing back what you just heard, as an invitation for your client to add more to what they just said. It shows that you are listening and engages them in a “real” conversation that breaks down normal barriers. Get in there with them, “stay in the pain” as I’ve said many times before, and help them through it. This is a great cleansing process you’ll facilitate for your client. It also gives you the intel you will need to understand their struggles. Now is not the time to judge someone; it’s the time to empathize with them.

Once your day ends, reflect on your conversations and ask yourself if you made a difference in someone’s life. If you did, sleep well. If not, don’t fret. Tomorrow is a new day and there will be many opportunities to help.

I wish you a healthy and a safe journey through all of this. – Steve

Acknowledging Employees Is More Than Just “Atta-boys”

On the shoulders of a recent blog post focused on caring about your employees, to really develop people you must pinpoint positive behavior and let your direct reports know you saw, respected and valued their exact behavior in that moment. Eliminate “atta-boys” from your repertoire…and replace them with heartfelt, genuine acknowledgement. Read more

Seven Coaching Mistakes to Avoid…Always!

As leaders, a large part of our responsibility and actualization is to grow our respective teams and contribute to their success. We are their coaches. However, as I’ve worked with leaders, developing them into strong coaches, I’ve observed several mistakes that leaders make while developing their teams. Here they are, and my advice on what to do about them:

No Clear Feedback

“Give it to me straight Doc…” was a famous phrase old gunslingers used in “B” Westerns once they got shot. They wanted the truth about their condition. Start behaving like the doctor. Don’t go easy on a direct report when their behavior doesn’t merit it. You serve your direct better by being honest with them so they know where they stand.

No Clear Expectations Set

It’s important to lay out what a direct’s expectations are. You’ll both feel better about it. They’ll have a road map to follow and you’ll have a scorecard to follow.

Giving Hall Passes

Stop giving “hall passes.” Don’t enable behavior that is sabotaging a direct’s development. Let them know right away when something they did does not support the company’s goals or their own growth.

No Consequences

Every time you allow inappropriate behavior to continue you set a precedent for the agreement of the behavior and send the wrong message to the rest of your team. There needs to be consequences to these actions or, they will just continue.

No Accountability

Hold your direct’s accountable for their behavior. They’ll respect you for it and you will have made a positive difference in their development. Let them know that you expect everyone not only to “own” their mistakes but, develop a plan for compensating for them so that no long-term damage is done to the client relationship. They have to “own” the outcome too!

Treating Them Like an “A” Player

When you are developing a “B” Player, don’t mislead them to thinking they are an “A” Player as a way of giving them support. It’s not respectful and it sends the wrong message to your star players, who really are at the top of their game.

Not Communicating Like They Are a Client

Treat your team like you treat a client. Listen to them, understand what’s important to them, then take them to school with what’s best for them.

Try these and let me know.

What People Need Now: Connection

Whether it’s your family, friends, colleagues, or clients…people need connection right now. Sequestering, quarantining, telecommuting, working from home…whatever you want to call, it’s essentially isolation. As a leader, it’s up to you to maintain a connection so that people understand that you are here for them, you understand their plight, and you are going to help them through this.

Here is a video I recorded from my own sequestering as I adjust to working remotely. My wife (and adhoc videographer) is in the same boat. And both of us wish you a safe and healthy passage through this time.

“This too shall pass.”

Top 5 Videoconferencing Pitfalls to Avoid

More than ever, even beyond the days after 9/11, we need to come together. We must care for one another even though we can’t be in the same room together. We’re social animals who need to communicate. Being present via videoconferencing has its challenges, but you must persevere. I know it because like you, I’m living it and teaching through this medium.

Don’t let these five pitfalls keep you away from colleagues or clients in a time when we need to be present, empathetic, and relational.

Putting Your Agenda Ahead of Your Colleagues

Years ago a coach of mine taught me to be interested, then interesting. You honor others by being present to them, understanding their issues, challenges, and worries. Nothing can take the place of realizing another person’s plight. Especially in these times, it’s important that you connect on a human level, not just a professional one that has a specific agenda. Ask them how they are? How their family is? Do they have loved ones abroad? Listening to people eases their pain by you understanding it. Believe me, they can’t hear what you want to convey UNLESS you understand and acknowledge them first.

Thinking That Your Physical Appearance Doesn’t Matter

I’ve heard people proudly say, “I did that videoconference in my PJs!” That’s nothing about which one should boast. What it says that you are taking a far too casual approach. Stop taking it easy with your physical comportment. Dress as though you are in the room with others, not a movie night at home. Dressing the part illustrates you care about yourself, your meeting participants and the subject that’s being discussed. Ask yourself…would I walk into my boss’s office dressed like this?


With so many people working at home now because of the Coronavirus, many will fall into the trap of “multitasking” during videoconferencing and teleconferencing. No one can see you texting, or answering an email on your phone, or catching up on Words with Friends. Stop it! Stop texting, reading from your phone, reading ANYTHING. The only thing you should be reading is the other people in the meeting and what’s important to them. In other words, stay alert. Keep contributing.

Losing Your Optimism

When you aren’t directly connected with your co-workers, supervisors, and clients, it’s easy to feel isolated and lose some of the positivity that is critical in creating good professional relationships. However, optimism is a funny thing. Once you become comfortable with it, it stays with you. It’s also an important way to manage our survival-minds. Your optimism is contagious. It also invites people to contribute to an issue where they otherwise may not from the somberness of the meeting’s climate. I’ll also note that connected to optimism is laughter. Be ready to laugh. Contribute something that is anecdotally amusing. Lighten the mood, especially in these times. Serious issues are being handled but that doesn’t mean we can have a good, old-fashioned laugh every so often!

Technological Incompetence

However you have to, make sure your videoconferencing system works. And since people are working from home now instead of the office, you must implement videoconferencing. It is not acceptable to only communicate via phone when you can be seen as well as heard. This makes a difference! Once you are seen, you’ll actually brighten a person’s day along with your own. Remember, it’s about staying connected through this time in our world. Be the bridge for people and keep others connected through your efforts.

Finally, make a list of people who you care about. Make a list of people who have contributed to your success in life, then, CALL THEM. You’ll feel great and so will they. This affects your physical and mental health. It also keeps the world connected.

As John Lennon said in Come Together, “one and one makes three.” That’s what the world needs now.

The 10 Worst Probing Questions

Every time I work with an executive or a sales team, I stress the importance of probing questions. They are open-ended questions that get you to a deeper level of understanding of your client’s business. They also give you a subtle opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework by asking well-researched questions. Feedback I get from business leaders is they wish more people would take the time to ask these types of questions since they lead to far more productive questions.

I’ve already written a blog post about probing questions (click on that link to read it!). But, there are good ones and bad ones. The latter is my focus right now since I’ve heard so many of them lately! So, here are the worst ones:

  1. How’s business? You should know this already. At the very least, you should understand industry trends and market conditions affecting your client’s business. You may not know the particulars of their business, but you should be able to have an intelligent conversation about the industry.
  2. What are your goals for this year? If you’ve done your due diligence, including talking to lower-level executives and studying the industry, you should have a pretty good idea about their goals. And don’t most company’s goals boil down to a) grow the business, b) increase sales, and c) reduce expenses? You need to get to why they haven’t achieved those goals yet.
  3. Who is your competition? Now you’re just being lazy. Google the business and the industry. Check out LinkedIn. Find news articles and quotes from company executives. The internet has made all of that information readily available so, find it!
  4. What makes your product good? Again, a basic homework chore. If possible, try the product. Seek out reviews of the company and its service. Study how they present their product or service on their web site and social media. You can easily determine what THEY think their advantage is, whether that’s accurate or not.
  5. Has your product been successful in the past? First, this is a close question easily answer with “yes” or “no.” Second, you need to know this ahead of time. It’s history…look it up! If you can’t find out on your own, find people connected to the industry and ask their opinion. You can use what they say as part of your presentation later on, again demonstrating your tenacity in researching this client.
  6. Who is your customer? “Everybody. Next question!” It is critical that you know who their customer is so that when you are presenting your recommendations, you know you are touching key points that address key needs of their customers. Social media postings are a great source of information and tone regarding how a company interacts with its customers. Use it to find out who they are targeting.
  7. Is there anyone else in the company I need to see? Translated: I want to know if there is someone more important than you I should have met with! There is almost always someone else to see. But you need this first contact to help shepherd you through the process. Better to ask “Who else would be appropriate for me to meet to determine their opinion as we move forward together?”
  8. Would you like this information that I prepared for you? If you didn’t think they needed it, why did you prepare it? Likely, you believed that it was useful so, give it to them. The only time not to is if, in the course of your discussion, you determine that some of the information is off the mark and now doesn’t make your points strongly. In that case, offer to edit the information you prepared and get it to them quickly.
  9. Do you have a sense of the problems your company faces this year? Some might think this a good question. I don’t. Of course they know the problems they are facing…it’s what keeps them up at night! But, if you probe about long-term issues and immediate problems, now you have an opportunity to solve the latter quickly and partner on the former over the long haul.
  10. What do you see as the next step? If they were honest with you, they might say, “Well…probably we will all say goodbye here and then I will walk out to about 100 new problems that have come up since we’ve been talking. It’s unlikely I’ll remember this meeting at the end of the day.” YOU need to know the next steps and strongly present them, letting them know you will be managing the follow up and driving this to a conclusion. Most clients appreciate someone who can take the proverbial ball and run with it.

Avoid these questions and you’ll be a step ahead of your competition (who are likely asking some or all of them!).

Which of these are you going to eliminate from your next client encounter? Let me know by replying below. – SG

Videoconferencing: How to Embrace This Mostly Hated Technology

Colleague #1: Hey, did you hear we’ve got a mandatory videoconference tomorrow?

Colleague #2: Oh No, I’d rather have a root canal!

We’ve all been there. 

Sometimes easier is also harder. Videoconferencing fits the bill. While on the surface, “meeting” with people via video technology rather than having them gather in one place seems far easier. But as you likely know, videoconferencing is rife with its own challenges. I was reminded of this recently as I hosted a training session with people from various parts of the world.

The business development training session I was delivering was important, valuable, and challenging just by the nature of the content. Adding video conferencing upped the challenge quotient! Not having everyone in the same room to play off one another reduced the spontaneity of debate. I had to be wary that the presentation didn’t become unidirectional with me doing all the talking. I also had to understand that videoconferencing requires the leader, in this case me, to be hyper-alert to people losing interest. I’m sure you’ve seen people blankly stare into their screens with the enthusiasm of a mortician. Worse, a distracted one. You run the risk of coming across like the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day, “Bueller?, Bueller?, Bueller…?” 

Why People Hate Videoconferencing

So many reasons, so little time! As often as videoconferencing is used in today’s connected world, you might think people have accepted it as a normal way of doing business. In my experience, they have not. Why? Here are few excuses people use:

  • I’ve got deadlines to meet, I don’t have time for this
  • I don’t have anything to add to this meeting
  • I don’t care what the outcome is
  • This is “so” not urgent
  • The people in the meeting are the wrong people
  • Can’t this just be put into an email?

But the real reason people hate videoconferencing? Ineffectiveness of the conference leader! People tend to run videoconferences as they would an in-person meeting. And that is a big mistake.

The Key to a Successful Videoconference

As insinuated above, the key is YOU. As the leader, it’s up to you to make the videoconference compelling, interesting, and useful. If you’ve led a session, you know how much pressure this can put on you. However, in the end, whether the meeting is successful and worth the participants’ time falls directly on your shoulders. That’s a heavy load to carry. 

Let’s face it…in-person meetings are better. People are more connected. Distractions are left outside the meeting room. You can more easily interpret body language. You can see if John is checking his texts rather than paying attention! In short, you can read the audience and adjust your presentation on the fly so that you keep their attention. So much harder to do with a videoconference, right?

We can’t ignore, however, that videoconferencing is here to stay. They are far less costly than in-person meetings when you factor in travel expenses and lack of productivity/availability while traveling. Given that, you can host video meetings with far more regularity than in-person meetings. Can you imagine flying everyone in for a weekly check-in? Of course not. So, they do have a place in our current business operations. Let’s just work together to make them better, ok?

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Videoconferencing

Based on my experience with video conferencing sessions lately, I’m glad to offer you some key tips that will make your next session more impactful.

  • Call on People: How do you make sure people are alert, paying attention and engaged in a video conference (or any meeting, really)? Call on them! Establish up front while delivering your agenda that you intend to call on people to determine if what you are saying is resonating, if there are any questions, if there is anything needing further explanation, etc. As you might imagine, this will help make sure that people stay focused, ignore distractions, and are ready on a moment’s notice to answer a question. Fear of “looking bad” in this case is a great motivator!
  • Present an Agenda: I’ve stressed this many times on this blog…you HAVE to have an agenda to run an effective meeting. Get consensus on it up front. Stick to it. If someone tries to take the meeting in a different direction, table it! You can address that issue in another meeting or offline. 
  • Summarize every agenda point: Make sure people understand each agenda item and the goal that discussion around each point should target
  • Know your audience: Make sure you know why each agenda item and point is important to your audience. If you can’t define this, that’s a good indication that what you are presenting is not going to “land” with them.
  • Draw people out to fully frame an issue: On a videoconference, people will tend to “hide out” and not participate. It’s your job to get them to vocalize their thoughts for the benefit of all. Get participants involved so that it is “their” meeting, not just yours. Listen to how they react to what you are saying so you can understand their perspective. Define next steps: 
  • Listen to participants as though you are wrong. It fosters better participation.
  • Operationalize what needs to happen next: Make sure people understand their responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines
  • Master the technology: So important! You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law, right (I wrote a book about it!). You must understand how your videoconferencing technology works. Work with your IT team to determine the potential pitfalls so you can solve issues before they happen. If the technology doesn’t work, nobody is going to blame Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. They will blame you! 

You Can Be an Effective Videoconference Leader 

Videoconferencing is only increasing. Embrace it, don’t run from it. See yourself as part of the meeting’s solution and stay on the playing field of the meeting. Do not sideline yourself.

Doing these actions shows your desire to make a genuine difference with the topic at hand and the people in the meeting. When the business day completes, you will be more fulfilled by having played and participated. Our hectic, heavily politicized, uber-connected world needs you and me to do this!

Have a videoconferencing nightmare to share? Post in the comments below or shoot me an email! – SG




Self-Assessment of Your Professional Transformation

Recently, I’ve written about needing to evolve in business so that you remain relevant and engaged. Through my evolution, I noted that I was listening as if I was right all the time. A shift to listening like I am wrong and without a preconceived response has made a big difference! These transformative moments (hopefully you’ve had a few of your own) can be difficult to sustain, especially when you’ve changed but nobody seems to care. So, how do you keep your evolution or transformation (or whatever you have been calling it) moving forward?

For me, it helps if I do a professional self-assessment. I ask myself a few key questions which will help me determine how I’m doing, if I’m still on track, or if I’ve let myself slip back into the familiar-yet-unsustainable. So, here I present some of the questions I ask so that you can assess yourself, along with my answers. We are in this together!

Self-Assessment for Professional Evolution

Have I set goals?
I’ve set my goals and review them daily in the morning.

Are the goals attainable?
Yes, and they are not pie-in-the-sky goals. They are attainable this year.

Have I created an Action Plan to realize and achieve these goals?
I’ve created a weekly activity sheet that lays out who I need to call and what I need to impart to them.

Can I measure it?
Yes, it’s a scorecard that I keep track with.

What is one habit I can stop?
Hesitation, thinking that my phone call, email message or meeting won’t make a difference to whomever I’m contacting.

What is one habit I need to get into?
Relishing getting the “no” or “not right now” response. Every “no” brings me closer to a “yes”

Do I have a committed listener who I check in with?
Yes, I have to dear friends and business colleagues who support me as I do them.

Share Your Answers

Ok, I’ve shared my assessment. Let’s take a look at yours. As you can see, it doesn’t need to be in-depth…just a quick check-in. Copy and paste the questions above into an email. Remove my answers and fill in your own. Send it to me at: In other words, I’ll be your committed listener!