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Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the world's best Executive Coach joined Engati for a conversation on effective leadership in these tough times.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith delivers speeches and conducts coaching sessions with top-notch CEOs across the globe.
He has been ranked as the No.1 Executive Coach in the World and a Top Ten Business Thinker for many years. He is the only two-time winner of the Thinkers 50 Award for the #1 Leadership Thinker in the World.
Dr. Goldsmith is the author and editor of 41 books, including 3 New York Times bestsellers, that have sold over 2.5 million copies and have been listed bestsellers in 12 countries.
Marshall Goldsmith on Leadership
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith on leadership
What advice do you have for young individuals who have done well early in their careers and are transitioning into a leadership role?
The first issue that Marshall spoke about was the Problem of the Super Smart.
The education system is very competitive. We're all required to take test after test to prove how smart we are. That makes transitioning to a leadership role hard, because now instead of proving your own genius, you have to concentrate on helping your people give off their best.
For the great individual achiever, it might be all about ME. But, for the great leader, it’s all about THEM.
In early leadership roles, you'll still need to be both, an achiever and a leader. At the CEO level, you have to let go of individual achievement and really focus on being a leader.
Today, we're managing knowledge workers. This means that they know more about their individual function than their leader.
If you know more about marketing than your marketing person, more about finance than your finance person, and more about HR than the HR person, you don’t have a leadership problem, you've just selected the wrong staff.
You need to be comfortable with people who know more than you.
What you need to ask yourself is, "Do I really want to be a leader or do I want to be an engineer, a technician, an IT person?"
And think well, because you can’t do both at the same time.
What would you say are typical classical problems that these young achievers will face as they try and move more into a leadership role?
According to Marshall, the number one problem that successful people face is that they win too much. We want to win whether something is important or not. However trivial something may be, we still want to win.
And sometimes, we don't even realize the cost of that victory. Marshall gives us a couple of examples of such situations.
You want to go to dinner at Restaurant X. Your wife, husband, friend or partner, wants to go to dinner at restaurant Y. You argue and end up going to the restaurant that wasn't your choice. The food tastes awful and the service is terrible. You have two options
- Critique the food, point out that your partner was wrong.
- Shut up, eat the stupid food, try to enjoy it, and have a nice evening.
If you went with the first option, that would be a bad choice. Your little victory would damage the relationship.
Imagine that you've had a hard day at work, a hard day. You go home, your wife, husband or partners here and the other person says, ‘I had such a hard day today, I had such a tough day’ and you reply, ‘You had a hard day? You had a hard day? Do you have any idea what I had to put up with today?'
It isn't a competition. You don't need to try to win by proving that you are more miserable than the people you live with.
As a young leader, before you speak, stop and breathe. Before you win, ask yourself, 'What am I winning?'
The next challenge that young leaders face is Adding too much value.
If someone from our team comes up to us with a great idea that they're invested in, we generally like to edit the idea a bit, make marginal improvements. But that could be problematic.
The quality of the idea may improve by 5%. But, that team mate's excitement and commitment towards executing that idea may go down 50%. They may feel like it's not their idea anymore.
Every time you get promoted, more and more and more of your suggestions will become orders. In today's times, people need work. They're afraid and are less likely to challenge their boss.
But this can be frustrating to them. They may feel like they're not valued enough.
So as a young leader, before you speak, realize that performance is the function of the quality of the idea and commitment to making it work.
When you add too much value, that means the quality may go up a little, but your team mate's commitment may go down a lot.
Young leaders are not running companies, but they have to work with brilliant people with whom they don’t have a direct line of authority. How do they influence them outside of that?
Marshall shares some ideas that the great Peter Drucker shared with him. Here's the first one-
Our mission in life is to make a positive difference not to prove that we’re smart and not to prove that we’re right.
We get so wrapped up proving how smart we are, how right we are, we forget we’re not here in life to prove we’re smart. We are here to make a positive difference.
And here's the second-
You change what you can change and you make peace with what you cannot change.
Before you deal with any topic in life, ask yourself one question, 'Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?' If the answer is yes, you do it.
But, if the answer is no, let it go. Don’t waste your time talking about stuff, you’re not gonna change anyway.
Do you have a technique or two to share for young leaders on how they could potentially be a coach for their team members?
Sit down with your direct reports and have a one on one dialogue that focuses on six basic questions.
1) Where are WE going?
I’d say, look, here’s where I see the larger organization going, that would be you as a leader and everyone you manage and then ask a personal question, ‘where do you think we should be going?’
2) Where are YOU going?
I see, here’s where I see you and your part of the business going. Then ask a second question, ‘Where do you think we should be going?’
3) Doing well?
Here’s what I think, you and your part of the business are doing very well on the positive side. And then ask a good question, ‘what do you think you’re doing well, what are you most proud of?’ This is a very good question to ask, because sometimes as a leader, you don’t realize what other people have done. And then I say, ‘you know, I spent all weekend working on this project. We thought it would help you. I’m so happy and, the way it worked out’. You might say,’Thank you. I didn’t understand that. I didn’t appreciate it. But now, I want to recognize people for this.’
4) Suggestions for the future?
And I always suggest something called feed-forward more than feedback. You can’t change the past anyway. Rather than humiliate people by talking about all they did wrong, just say, moving forward, here are some positive ideas I have for the future for you. And then ask a personal question. ‘If you were the coach for you, what ideas might you have for yourself?’ A very good coaching question, and then they may come up with better ideas than you have.
5) How can I help?
‘You know as your manager, what can I do to help you be the best as possible?’
6) What ideas and suggestions might you have for me to work on for the future?’
Six various very simple questions. The key to making this work could be summarized in a term called mutual responsibility. If I’m managing you, I would say, you know, on a regular basis I’m going to go through these six basic questions with you to make sure that we’re aligned and everyone’s in agreement.
Being a good leader means being staying connected with your teams at all times. And that means reaching them in the platform of their choice. Explore Engati’s WhatsApp chatbot offerings today.
We hope Marshall Goldsmith's advice on leadership in bad times has been helpful to you. Check out our series of interviews with the world's leading thought leaders in Customer Experience, Marketing, Tech, and AI on Engati CX.
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