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Authentic Coaching & The Power of Executive Presence

Episode #1010: Explore the impact of executive presence, the importance of authenticity when speaking, and how retreats build vital relationships with clients in our conversation with Mikki Williams, a business owner, executive coach, master chair with Vistage International, recipient of Vistage's Lifetime Achievement Award and Speaker of the Year Award, a National Speakers Association speakers Hall of Fame recipient, and a TEDx speaker.

About Mikki Williams

Mikki Williams is a business owner, executive coach, master chair with Vistage International, recipient of Vistage's Lifetime Achievement Award and Speaker of the Year Award, a National Speakers Association Speakers Hall of Fame recipient, a TEDx speaker, and the operator of her coaching and speaking school. Mikki Williams is an accomplished speaker and teacher that embraces the power of executive presence. She encourages her clients to learn to speak well and embrace good storytelling. In her speaking school, she charges executives to be vulnerable when speaking to large groups, while staying genuine to themselves. Mikki’s largest driver is to leave behind a legacy. She seeks to impact the lives of her clients and community by teaching them to speak well, work through their fears and issues, and stay genuine in their business practices.

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Key highlights

Mikki’s journey to executive coaching

Timestamp 01:35

Mikki’s journey to executive coaching included time in dance, fitness, and the service industry. She states that she is very “goal-oriented” and has continued to pursue new industries as she finds avenues that inspire and motivate her to greatness. Mikki’s expertise as a coach and speaker comes from her ample career experience. She started with life coaching and was then introduced to Vistage. Mikki identifies Vistage as the turning point in her career. From these experiences, her passion for executive presence developed into her own “niche.” Today she teaches some of the most influential speakers through her speaking school.

The importance of executive presence

Timestamp 06:20

Mikki firmly believes in the importance of having an effective executive presence. She explains that many of her executives can talk, but they don’t know how to effectively speak well. Mikki teaches her clients how to be articulate, genuine, and captivating as they take the platform of leadership. Mikki shares some tips that she gives clients on how to present themselves in virtual meetings. She recommends standing and presenting yourself well in how you dress. She is an advocate of using body language and tone to your advantage when presenting to an audience.

Understanding yourself to help your clients

Timestamp 10:04

By further understanding her DISC personality, Mikki has challenged the way she communicates with clients to better serve them. By understanding her communication tendencies further, she has taken initiative to listen to clients intentionally and learn new ways to communicate more effectively with them.

Coach before friend

Timestamp 12:15

When asked about her best day ever as a coach, Mikki shares a time when her client expressed their frustration with her. Mikki took this as a compliment, because her clients frustration was from pushing them to be their absolute best. Severin and Mikki elaborate on the idea that they are hired to be coaches first, who overtime become friends. There are times in coaching where a client may not enjoy the direction given, but Mikki embraces this so that clients can embrace their own potential.

Relationships with clients as a source of questions

Timestamp 13:40

Mikki uses her intuition when talking with clients to gain insight to their struggles and setbacks. She uses this insight to ask personalized and integral questions during each session. Mikki gives an example of how she impacted a client’s life by understanding more about her situation to the point where she became a Vistage Chair several years later. This client came back to Mikki and said, “You really changed my life by what you asked that day…”

Being the curious coach

Timestamp 19:03

Mikki embraces an attitude of “not knowing” in her coaching sessions. She believes that it is important for coaches to listen to their clients before assuming or offering their advice. Mikki believes this is the marking difference between consulting and coaching.

Flexibility as a coach and top 10 priorities

Timestamp 22:37

Mikki creates coaching sessions that are structured for the maximum impact on her clients. Before each meeting, she has her executive fill out a form which includes their top 10 priorities to address during their meeting. This allows Mikki to effectively use her time with her clients and ensures that each issue is addressed over time. Her clients are allowed to change these top 10 lists throughout their experience with her. This flexibility is also supported by her refusal to use long-term contracts. She states that this is the best form of coaching for her busy clients. Her clients sign five coaching sessions at a time. These coaching sessions can be within the same week or several months apart from each other. This gives her clients the ability to address the discussed topics in their own practices between meetings.

Being a difference-maker

Timestamp 27:47

Mikki shares her life-changing experience as a widow and how she embraced the changes that came her way. She has developed resilience through her life experiences which has made her a natural coach. Mikki meets clients where they are and encourages them to push forward. When asked about what advice she would give to a client who experienced a loss, she recommends understanding the five stages of grief and meditating through things that you enjoy.

Speaking school

Timestamp 33:27

Mikki’s speaking school has developed and changed throughout her career as an executive coach. She explains the structure of her school and how she has created new programs to meet further needs of her clients. Mikki has a passion for teaching others how to speak effectively and this passion has driven her to create new programs for her clients throughout her career. Mikki’s recent addition is “Mikki and Friends.” This program introduces her audience to speaking and executive coaching experts from all walks of life. Mikki also speaks on how important rituals are for her retreats. She credits former Vistage Chair member Karlsen on her application of rituals. In her retreats she always begins with fourteen rituals. Mikki claims that these rituals have bonded her clients together and been the source of her repeat clients.

Authenticity as strength

Timestamp 43:46

When Mikki is coaching people in how to speak well, she encourages her clients to embrace their authentic personality. She discourages the use of an alternate personality when presenting information and encourages clients to be genuine and vulnerable about their life. This authentic speech style captivates audiences and encourages further dialogue between members. Mikki believes that this type of presentation is essential to an effective executive presence.

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