March 22, 2022

196: Improve Performance by Improving Executive Functioning with Michael Delman

How we go about our work can make or break our productivity and effectiveness. The ability to meet deadlines, stay calm under pressure, develop a project plan and focus on a task without checking email every five minutes are all part of the skillset known as executive functioning. While this part of our brain develops throughout childhood, many of us still struggle with executive functioning as adults. Luckily, like any skill, we can develop them.

Today’s guest is Michael Delman. Michael is the CEO of Beyond BookSmart and WorkSmart Coaching. Author, Executive Function Coach, and School Founder, his career has been centered for three decades on helping people become more effective.

Michael and I talk about the four groups of executive functioning skills, how these show up in the workplace, what you can do to better perform in your role and how to better engage with your team using executive functioning strategies.

Members of the Modern Manager community get $100 off their executive functioning coaching membership or a staff training engagement. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community at the Sprout level or above.

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Read the related blog article: Learn The Art Of Self-Management


Website for kids:

Website for adults:


Book: You’re Kid’s Gonna Be Okay: Building the Executive Function Skills Your Child Needs in the Age of Attention

Key Takeaways:

  • Executive functioning skills are habits for self-management. They can be broken down into four categories, known as COPS. Calm, Organize, Plan and Prioritize, Start and Stay focused.
  • The prefrontal cortex doesn’t function well under stress. Prepare adequately to reduce stress buildup. Use breathing techniques to calm down your emotions. Use cognitive thinking tricks like having perspective to see the big picture, to take the pressure off.
  • Organization includes the elements of STOP; Space, Time, Objects, and People.
  • Consider how to set up your environment to help you be most effective. Allot yourself enough time to accomplish projects. Have all objects you need at your disposal and put away distracting objects. Know who you can go to when stuck; whether a colleague or a website.
  • Prioritize by deciding on the most important thing you need to get done that day. Consider what is blocking your organization or team’s success.
  • Communicate all decisions, expectations, and roles clearly to all team members. Put it in writing in a central location so everyone can refer to it.
  • When overwhelmed or procrastinating, break down large tasks into smaller ones. Set a timer for 5 minutes and start a task.
  • When talking with a colleague about improving their executive functioning skills, normalize their difficulties by expressing that it’s common.

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