Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Leadership Guru Marshall Goldsmith Offers His Secrets to Success

I've been fortunate in my career to talk to a lot of really smart people. People who are not only really smart, but nice. Willing to share what they know, no matter how successful they become. They're the leadership gurus, the people who we need right now more than ever to help us navigate our careers.

Recently I interviewed Marshall Goldsmith, and wanted to share some real nuggets of wisdom from a guy who is comfortable sitting down with a CEO of a Fortune 100 as he is a college student...

AB: How has your leadership coaching changed – if at all – in the last 34 years?

MG: My deepest learning in 34 years has been recognizing that it is not all about me. It’s about the clients. In fact, the person who I spent the least amount of time with improved the most. And the person I spent the most time with improved the least. So I learned a great lesson that it wasn’t about me being smart, it was about great people who work hard.

AB: Are there different pressures on executives today than when you first began coaching?

MG: Oh, yes. Much different. In the old days before the Internet and everyone had cell phones and all that, executives were much more likely to get a pass, especially from the business press, for inappropriate behavior. But today they live in a much bigger fishbowl. Everything they say is quoted. They have to be incredibly careful about everything they do and say because they are under much, much more of a microscope than they were before. They have to be incredibly sensitive in emails because that can all get subpoenaed and go to court and become public record. How many cases do we know where companies have lost billions because of stupid emails?

AB: Is such a fishbowl existence good or bad?

MG: I’m not into the “good or bad” judgment business. I’m in the “helping people get better” business and deal with what’s there. You could argue it’s good and bad. The reality is: It is what it is. The reality is that today it is very, very challenging to be an executive. Your behavior is under incredible scrutiny, and that’s part of life. And if you don’t want to pay the price, don’t take the job.

AB: Is that one of the things you tell your executives?

MG: Definitely. Every meeting is show time. People look at what you say, how you look, your tone of voice. More so today than ever before.

AB: What’s their reaction when you tell them that their every move will be watched and reviewed?

MG: I use the example of the Broadway play. I ask them: “Did they ever hear the kid (actor) complain because their foot hurts or their aunt died last week?’ No. That’s because it’s show time. I tell them the kid isn’t making a hundredth of what they’re making, and if the kid can go out there night after night and be a professional and get everything right, so can you. That’s just part of your job. I think it’s a healthy attitude to have. You’re not being a phony, you’re being professional.

Look, an executive sitting in a meeting listening to a PowerPoint slide already knows what the person is going to say, but everyone in the room is looking at the executive face, and this executive has to look like he or she cares. That’s not being a phony, .....(read the rest on Intuit's Quickbase blog here)

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