Charles Pfeffer

Executive Coaching & Leadership Consulting

Insights by Charles Pfeffer

Leading with Meaning

Imagine a World Without Words. No sentences. No descriptions. No instructions. No poems. No stories. No speeches. No meanings. It is impossible to conceive of this, as we do our imagining via language, with words. What’s more, without words there would be no understanding, no progress, no innovation. There would be no tangible evidence of what thinking produces – art, music, architecture, tools, civilization, love. Without words, there would be no world, at least not for us. Language grants being, existence. To be human is to live in language, both our native language (whichever that might be) and one’s capacity… read more >

You are worthy of your own respect

The other day I had a conversation with a client who is going through a challenging time. As I was doing my morning routine, I found myself thinking about our conversation. My experience of her is that she conveys respect for other people in the way she listens and interacts. It’s in the attention she gives and the care with which she listens. It occurred to me that she also is worthy of this respect. Whenever we are stuck, our sense of being stuck is valid. It is worthy of our attention. One part of yourself is trying to be heard by another part of yourself and it’s not… read more >

Coach Bill Campbell’s Leadership Principles

Eric Schmidt and two of his colleagues from Google have written a beautiful book about their coach, Bill Campbell entitled Trillion Dollar Coach. I highly recommend the book for its combination of stories, principles and practical tips for leaders. The bottom line message that I took away is that it is not only okay to love people at work, it is an essential quality of leadership to be willing and able to do so. Here are the 31 principles that the authors derived from their own experience of Bill and from interviews with dozens of people whose lives he touched. It’s… read more >

Vulnerability and Authenticity (3 in a series of 3)

One of my CEO clients wanted his team to adopt “vulnerability” as a leadership value. I thought then, and still think, this was a wise idea. Vulnerability, in the sense of candid self-disclosure, with admissions of uncertainty and interdependency,  is a dropping of defenses. This does not come easily to buttoned-down, high-ego, type-A executives. That’s why they have trouble making authentic connections. Afraid to appear weak, they show only a part of themselves; a masked version, a pretense. They may fool some of the people some of the time, but they send two contradictory messages: I have it all together… read more >

Connection through purpose (2 in a series of 3)

In my last post, I talked about how even a CEO can feel anxious and disconnected from people in her organization. I suggested some questions to get out from under your concern for how you look and feel by connecting to your purpose. Asking questions interrupts the monologue and opens the possibility for discovering an authentic basis for connection. Who is this person (or who are these people) for me?  What is important to them? What’s important to someone else provides our most direct access to a connection. Being truly curious and interested in what’s important to another person is… read more >