An agile and adaptable way of seeing the world is a must for executives in business today, including how to have difficult conversations, according to the author of a new book on leadership.

The Agile-Minded Executive - hi res“As an executive, you must lubricate your brain with mental challenges that will grow your mindset and make it more agile,” says “The Executive’s Neurocoach,” Karla Robertson, author of the new book “The Agile-Minded Executive: Drive Better Results by Shifting How You Think” (Indie Books International, 2015).

“The Agile-Minded Executive” shows that becoming a better thinker lies in the mindful internal shifts we make to synthesize what our emotions and logic—our whole brain—provide us.

“The complex challenges agile-thinking executives face in this volatile world require them to adapt their minds to the shifting landscape, develop a more nimble approach to assessing the situation, and rapidly craft solutions,” says Robertson. “This book points executives in the right direction to do so. Building a more nimble mind will enable you to more fluidly access valuable input from what the various regions of your brain have in store for you.”

Robertson integrates her coaching approach with the insights from neuroscience as well as the inquiry and observation of coaching methodology. She works with C-level executives, other senior leaders, and their teams in organizations across diverse industries and geographies facilitating retreats, providing one-on-one coaching and team development coaching.

One mental challenge for leaders that can benefit from agile thinking is how to have difficult conversations with those who report to them.

“Sometimes, leaders think they put the right team together and yet some individuals just didn’t end up in the right seat,” says Robertson. “Or they were the right fit for the road they were on but since they had to take some detours and had to make some changes while en route, what they need from them now diverges from their original scope of duties. It isn’t doing them, the employee or the initiative any good to prolong the agony.”

Have the conversation as soon as possible, advises Robertson. Here are her four Cs of having a successful conversation that she discusses in her book:

  1. Be Candid: Don’t be vague or ambiguous. You must define the undesired behavior or work output and the impact it’s having.
  2. Be Clear: Give specifics about your expectations going forward and consequences for not meeting those expectations. Be clear about the What and the Why. Engage them in figuring out the How.
  3. Be Compassionate: Remember to use “the velvet hammer.” You must make a point without leaving a bruise or being disrespectful or demeaning. That will just trigger threat responses in the person that are over the top. Not productive. Doesn’t show good character on your part either. Affirm what they do well and challenge them to build on that. Let them know you believe they can turn it around and that it’s up to them to make that happen.
  4. Be Collaborative: Engage the person to create ways they will shift their behavior and hold themselves accountable. Don’t do all the heavy lifting of the thinking here. They need to take the wheel of their own destiny and accountability to turn their performance around. Ask how you can support them in their efforts without taking over responsibility for them. You own your actions. They own theirs.

As a keynote speaker, Robertson delivers relevant and thought-provoking talks that challenge how people think and encourage them to develop mental agility and nimbleness in themselves and their teams. She believes this is the foundation that must be developed now to effectively prepare our minds to deal with the increasing velocity and uncertainty of change and enable us to adapt and flow to create the best outcomes.

After 20 plus years in the corporate arena, Robertson started her own company, Shifting Gears Business Coaching & Consulting, in 1999. She hosted her own Internet-based talk show, “The Exceleration Zone,” in 2004 and has been quoted in The New York Times, MSNBC Online, and other Internet and national print publications. Prior to that, Robertson was a sales executive and the leading sales producer for companies in the mortgage banking and healthcare industries.


About Karla Robertson

To book Karla Robertson as a speaker, please contact her at or call her at 732-492-8114