Professional summary

Barry Zweibel started coaching and mentoring, full time, in 2000, helping executives, managers-of-managers, and emerging leaders develop the leadership competencies and disciplines they need to contribute – and achieve – at a consistently higher level with the people they work with up, down, and across the organization.

A former executive and corporate officer in the high-tech world, adjunct instructor at Northwestern University, and many a boss’ go-to person, Barry honed his leadership skills in the real world of mission-critical operations. Whether presenting in the boardroom, managing the crisis of an untimely systems outage, or casually chatting over a cup of coffee, he proved himself to be a caring, capable, professional known

Engagement overview



Some of the companies that clients have worked for …

• Farmers Insurance Group
• Monsanto
• American Mailers
• Nationwide Insurance
• AT&T
• Hill-Rom
• Chicago Mercantile Exchange
• Clera (Canada)
• Jenner&Block
• Pace Productivity (Canada)
• CRS Financial Services
• Leadership Training Room
• Sunbelt Services
• It’s Never 2 Late
• Dietrich Construction
• Auxis Management and Technology Solutions
• eMazzanti Technologies

Case Studies

Assessing and improving the “conflict competency” of sales directors, across the country, with respect to their increasing the use of constructive responses to conflict, decreasing the use of destructive responses to conflict, and better managing the “hot buttons” that trigger them into real – or perceived – interpersonal conflicts... Read more

Due to a series of layoffs and a significantly flattened hierarchy – and the “chasm of leadership continuity” created by relatively inexperienced managers now reporting directly to senior-level executives – the company’s Global Learning and Development (GLD) group, with my assistance, created a "fast-track" program whereby the need for short-term, coaching and mentoring calls could be im... Read more

Aging facilities infrastructure, insufficiently skilled operatives, deprecated preventative maintenance routines, and increased tenant customization requests had created significant building infrastructure risk and exposure for this Class-A facility. But prior requests for additional personnel and project funding were rejected as unnecessary and expensive. .. Read more

High-potential leaders were identified as needing to accelerate their growth and development so they could have a more positive and powerful impact up, down, and across their organizations sooner than their trajectory indicated they would. .. Read more

Notwithstanding the increasing recognition that Information Technology personnel needed to learn more about how business operates and the “people” side of leadership, the senior management team for the division knew they had neither the time, nor skill, to coach and mentor their direct reports – or others in their organization – as much as was needed or wanted. Based on my prior 1-on-1 wor... Read more


Your situation is not atypical for those moving from larger to smaller organizations. Therefore, let me take a slightly different approach than my colleagues have and encourage you to look at what improvements YOU can make in how you juggle priorities.

Some suggestions for upping your game:

• Accept that any frustration or productivity loss you're experiencing when shifting between priorit... Read more

From the 8/25/2015 Wall Street Journal, starting on page D1 – – "People Love Your Sarcasm, Really.".. Read more

Surya ably speaks to the 'concealed' truth of many (most?) biases. A 360°/multi-rater-type assessment – one that allows those being degraded to anonymously provide their feedback – can be particularly helpful in articulating the negative business impact of this particular bias, as well as other instances where the leader is blind to, and/or failing to take full responsibility for, his/her imp... Read more

I admit to having used such a strategy, back in the day, when I was promoted to run a department that was both negatively viewed and non-core to the business.

Although the larger culture was very "performance" focused, I asked my staff to adopt a "let's be so good that no one notices" mantra so we could work "under the radar" on some basic improvements and lessen the unwanted attention -- whic... Read more

Outsource it.

Just because you don't have the time doesn't mean that they still don't need it. And just because they say they're too busy, too, doesn't mean they still don't need it, either.

Besides, now is not the time for you to be ADDING responsibilities. Your focus is better spent on reducing your workload IN PREPARATION FOR your departure/retirement, rather than working like a dog up to... Read more

Prepare for the very real possibility that the one not promoted will leave, notwithstanding your best efforts to avoid that outcome.

If s/he does leave, you'll be that much more ready to minimize (and better handle) the disruption.

If s/he stays, you'll be that much more convinced you were right in choosing who you did to promote!

In either case, it's a case of the needs of the business... Read more

I wholeheartedly encourage you to modernize your mentor matching methodologies -- for women AND men. Gone are the days where just one mentor is enough. What your up-and-coming leaders need is an entire PORTFOLIO of mentors. (I've been coaching/mentoring, professionally, for 14 years, but it's a lesson I learned beforehand, back when I was vice president of telecommunications for a futures/option... Read more

As your boss suggests, "true merit" sooner or later DOES rise to the top -- except, of course, when it does not!

Therein lies the rub.

Unmet needs -- especially like "feeling undervalued" -- can cause terrible distraction in the workplace. Even worse, it can negatively affect the work you do as you (inadvertently, but likely) shift your attention from doing exemplary work to getting more re... Read more

I've faced similar circumstances in my own career. Great opportunities to test whether we're as good as we think we are!

What worked for me was to adopt a full-on "servant leader" approach to my older-than-me direct reports, asking them:

• Tell me how you want to be managed?
• What type of support do you want...or not want...from me?
• Do you prefer me to ask you for updates or you to pro... Read more

Kind of ironic that your cultural ambassadors are embracing the wrong (old versus new) culture, don't you think?! But that just makes the shift, when they finally do shift, all the more powerful.

To facilitate that shift, find out what they REALLY think about the new direction, listening for any of the following phrases:

✔ "It's not urgent," which suggests that your JUSTIFICATION... Read more

Maybe it's better to build some credibility with the boss-in-question by delivering some exceptional results on some of his/her major priorities, first. Then, you can try asking a question or two about his/her workday philosophy and suggest a productivity test you'd like to conduct whereby you assess what happens when your staff gets more "away time" from the office. But don't underestimate the im... Read more

Okay, try this: Pretend you're a DB Analyst, a Project Lead, or a Network Engineer, etc., for your company and ask yourself:

"What does knowing the company's current strategic direction mean for me in terms of how I should be doing my job differently than I currently am or was under the company's prior strategic direction?"

Then identify, for each job, some specific ways of doing things th... Read more

The MentorsGuild "qna" is a great place to learn -- for mentees and mentors, alike. Thank you colleagues.

To the above, I would suggest that you identify the impact of actually implementing the program, as currently envisioned, and share your findings with the leadership team, as a whole – BEFORE making any actual compensation changes. You might do this by focusing on the following groups of... Read more

The basic rule is this: Anything that someone OTHER THAN YOU can accomplish, even if you don't think they can accomplish it as quickly, elegantly, or effectively, as you: delegate it. You work on only what ONLY YOU can do.

In this way, every task or desired outcome is a learning opportunity for someone on your staff. You decide who. The concern, of course, will likely be the mistakes people ma... Read more

How can you ensure our 160 or so employees, in the stores, a small factory and various departments at HQ, embrace the new system? Here's a framework that has helped many clients of mine:

1. Give them the opportunity to not just be trained on the new system, but the permission to play with it -- off line -- so they can make mistakes, break it, learn how the system "thinks," and do more than just... Read more

"While my experience in working relationship one-on-one is excellent, it becomes really difficult to manage conflicting priorities when the size of the team pushes 4 or so members." Yes, welcome to the world of herding cats -- and IT cats are the hardest to herd!

So let me suggest that you consider the level of support you NEED from each person on your key issues by using the following continu... Read more

I'd say it's certainly easier for the coach if s/he's working with everyone -- that way synergies, subtleties, and interpersonal dynamics can be seen earlier and broached in ways that leverage both accountability and confidentiality.

What's really intriguing to me, though, is your comment that "some of us are uncomfortable in sharing a coach." Take a closer look at what that's about.

It ma... Read more

Yes, at or around 150 people, a small business approach to leadership is no longer possible -- there are just too many people to communicate with and MBWA (management by wandering around) isn't sufficiently scalable.

Role clarity and hand-off points are key. Thinking about vertical relationships as a set of overlapping circles is often helpful. What do you want the 2nd line to be responsible ... Read more

Vendors have a love/hate relationship with their competition. Back in my days of management a major telecommunications operation, I'd always try to leverage that to our best advantage by using a 60/40 model with them -- I'd give one vendor about 60% of the relevant business and another about 40%. That way, "60" could brag that they were our "major provider" but knew they had to bring their A-game ... Read more

Let me suggest that, unless your key employee is working on a time-sensitive (30-60 day) project AND has some critical expertise that no one else in the organization can even approximate, let whatever happens, happen, because delaying someone's departure is rarely as beneficial as one hopes.

Too, the unintended consequences of delaying an employee from leaving, like that, are significant:

>... Read more

It is my understanding that the primary value of internal job boards is twofold: (1) they can help increase the speed with which job-openings are filled; (2) they can help decrease employees' beliefs that positions are being filled, unfairly, based on politics rather than merit. But listing new positions, internally, for more than 2 weeks before going "public" defeats (item 1) -- especially if the... Read more

It can be very challenging when no obvious career paths exist and any promotion is a minimum of a step-and-a-half away. I know because twice I dealt with it directly – once, at a company where I supervised a clerical support operation, and, again, at another where I managed a large Operator Services (switchboard) area. In both cases this was precisely the problem (and in neither case, was HR abl... Read more


I'm going with "ask," too. Smart, busy, people spend a lot of time thinking through issues and when they then talk about them with others, they don't always provide sufficient context to know where they're coming from in what they're saying. So is your CEO delegating? Wanting to brainstorm? Looking for validation? Telling you what's already been decided? If you're not 100% sure, It's incumbent on ... Read more

Good that you're asking the question. Conducting a "post-mortem" on how the management team handled their communications during the sale is an excellent discussion to have. So, too, for considering how best to remedy the current anxiety. My suggestion: Add them to the agenda of your next management team meeting. Better yet, make them the only items on the agenda for your next management team meeti... Read more

The elephant in the room is that your company probably doesn't hold IT in much regard these days. (Nothing personal -- most companies don't hold IT in much regard these days!) So while you certainly CAN use a charge-back system to dissuade low priority requests, you might find you can actually earn greater company-wide support for your major initiatives (and staffing) by working more of those less... Read more

"If most projects had a clear ROI (as measured by $), leaders wouldn't get the big bucks they do because decisions would be easy & judgment would not be required." Kudos for that, Jim.

So, yes, a clear, compelling, ROI makes decisions easy. Your job, it seems, though, is to implore your CEO to consider a less-than-easy decision. To that end, it's often helpful to consider what your CEO "listens... Read more

Vanity aside, you might do well to think about the business impact of each title. What, for example, are the pros and cons of the two titles? What do they mean "externally" -- to customers coming to you to with their requests/complaints? (Banks have so many vice presidents, in part, because they know that their customers would much rather deal with a VP than a manager when it comes to their money.... Read more


There are two elements of what you've written that stand out to me:

Element One: You've had several colleagues inside and outside of your workplace telling you about a gossiping co-worker, and the negative effects that's having with your subordinates.

Element Two: You've also noticed that your subordinates acting more disrespectful of your authority as time goes by.

Re: Element Two – T... Read more

A good way to differentiate the "forest" from the "trees" is to think in terms of the precedence or implications of a decision or recommendation.

"Trees" (more tactical decisions/recommendations) are typically one-and-done -- good for the particular circumstance/situation, but not much more. "Forests" (more strategic decisions/recommendations) are more "one-and-some," meaning they address both th... Read more


Some excellent comments above.

A very difficult circumstance for you -- and everyone else. So the first thing to wrap your head around is that people are relying on you to help them understand how to think about what's going on. "Is it, and will it be, hugely challenging? Yes. Can you all get through it? Absolutely." They need to know that they're not alone, that the company believes in them, ... Read more

I've had a job where I had 24x7 responsibilities for mission-critical telecommunications operations. If yours is, as well, and a 2am conversation is what's needed, then a 2am conversation is what's needed. Assuming your job is not actually like this, though, my colleagues have the right idea in suggesting you manage UP.

The process of "training one's boss" is not particularly difficult, but do... Read more


So just to mix it up a bit, let me suggest that trying to earn trust is NOT what you want to do. Here's why: Read more


If it were me, I'd read those exact same books, schedule some time with the exec, and have a series of pseudo-book-club-type conversations where you discuss the parts of the books that you both agree with, the parts that you both don't, the parts where your opinions differ, and (most importantly) the parts that have particular applicability to what you call the 'business of the business.' Then you... Read more


A former client of mine was asked to prepare a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation to secure $100 million in new funding. "I could talk for HOURS on this -- how in the world do I do it in just 10 minutes?!" she asked me. "Well," I said, "every 60 seconds, just make $10,000,000 point...or a close approximation thereof."

So rather than ask how much you SHOULD personally spend on social media each da... Read more

What do I think is a good way for you to correct the situation? Get the company's financials back up to the level you thought they'd be...pronto.

How? By taking whatever you said you'd do to grow profitability in the 5-year-plan you likely prepared as part of the hiring process and rallying your company's employees to successfully implement those recommendations – plus whatever recommendation... Read more


So let me take a slightly different tack by saying that ROI is not a truly meaningful calculation for determining a coaching initiative's value. The relationship between changes in how people think, feel, believe, and behave – which is the stuff of coaching – and the changes that occur to a company's bottom line, is indirect, at best. There are just too many variables at play to assume that an... Read more


Barry uses stories and engaging examples to make important points. He quickly gets to know you and no matter what you talk about, he offers relevant guidance.

ES, Director, Operations/Financial Services

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with Barry Zweibel. Barry brings relevant business knowledge and profound insight to coaching that encourages life changing development in business and personal endeavors.

EH, Executive Vice President, Sales/Manufacturing

I have found Barry's coaching sessions to be invaluable. Barry is an extremely helpful as a sounding board, helping me work though a concrete plan to tackle particular problems I face within the office, and in building and maintaining important client relationships. He has a great knack for hearing what I am really saying even when I am not quite saying it, and for getting me to focus on what matters. He is also quite comfortable offering constructive criticism and helping me identify and discard bad ideas. On a personal level, I find Barry to be delightful. He is warm, personable and funny.

DV, Managing Director, Legal

I wanted to thank you, Barry, for everything you have done for me over the past year – your coaching has helped me find my voice and for that I will forever be grateful. Little did I know how different my life would be, for the better times 100, actually. The profound changes that I see in my demeanor and in my life are beyond description. Thank you again for being my shelter in the storm and for being a catalyst to me finding my place in the world.

MC, Vice President, Banking

Working with you has been one of the Top 5 things I've done in my entire life. Thank you for being such an overwhelmingly positive influence, Barry.

BJS, Director, Sales/Financial Services

Why hire Barry as a Coach? Because he is that exceptional blend of smart, funny and compassionate that keeps you moving forward and feeling supported all the way. He was adept at asking the right questions and listening to what was behind my words. What can Barry help you accomplish? As much as you are ready to handle. He is a rare combination of conversational leader and follower which keeps the coaching moving fast and you moving forward.

TP, Executive Director A Non-Profit

It's about learning more about ourselves so we can see what might/is keeping us from being more successful. Barry gets people to see things differently by the questions he asks and the examples he provides.

LT, President, IT/Technology

I've had 5 executive coaches. Styles were different in all cases. I describe Barry's style as "scenario based coaching." Working with Barry, you run through a future or past scenario you may have with a boss, colleague/peer, direct report, etc. You talk about the goals of the conversation, relationship, or dialogue. Then, you "walk through" how to make that goal a reality. It is very effective for learning how to adapt styles and communications to be most effective.

JS, Vice President, IT/Insurance

Barry's unique approach has given me something infinitely more valuable than just the typical 'leadership inventory/toolkit' – he's helped me find my own, authentic, leadership voice.

JF, Managing Director, Sales/Financial Services

Barry's coaching results in clarity and specific intention for me.

KM, Entrepreneur